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Materials Science Students Win ASM Undergraduate Design Competition

Improved Blast-Resistant Steel Design Wins Students First Place

A group of Northwestern University undergraduates has won first prize in the ASM Materials Education Foundation’s 2012 Undergraduate Design Competition for their project, “TRIP-150 Blast Protection Alloy,” in which they created a computational design for an improved blast-resistant steel.

The alloy, which the students named TRIP-150, is designed to improve on existing blast-resistant materials by utilizing transformation-induced plasticity (TRIP), a phenomenon in which a material exhibits increased plasticity during a phase change.

Compared to typical high-strength steels, TRIP steels can be designed to exhibit high strength, ductility, shear resistance, and toughness. However, current blast-resistant steels utilizing this process, such as TRIP-120, become brittle during tempering, a trait that severely limits its blast-resistant properties.

With TRIP-150, the Northwestern students designed a very strong TRIP steel that does not become brittle. They accomplished this by controlling processing conditions and through the use of warm working, or the deformation of metals at high temperatures.

The project was completed under the guidance of Greg Olson, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and recent alum Zack Feinberg (PhD ’12), as part of the students’ Materials Design class (MATSCI 390).

The top prize comes with an award of $2,000. The students will receive their award on October 8 at the ASM Leadership Awards Luncheon at the Materials Science & Technology 2012 Conference and Exhibition in Pittsburgh. The award also designates $500 in travel funding to the conference and $500 to the department for support of future design teams.

Team members included Ruilong Ma, Wisaruth Maethasith, Ben Richardson, Eric Schwenker, and Zhibo Zhao.

The ASM Undergraduate Design Competition judges design-focused projects performed by undergraduate engineering students.