National Nuclear Security Administration

Materials Science: the science of everything

July 24, 2015

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Y-12 Senior Metallurgist Steven Dekanich and NASA Materials Science Branch Chief Steve McDanels teamed up to lead a weeklong materials science camp that took at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The camp, which has been held since 2004, was jointly sponsored by Consolidated Nuclear Services (CNS), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the University of Tennessee and the Knoxville chapter of American Society of Metals (ASM).


The 2015 Tennessee camp coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first American spacewalk. The 20 Tennessee students, who participated in the 2015 ASM International Materials Camp talked via Skype with two NASA astronauts who have spacewalked a dozen times during their careers. Students listened to astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Jeffrey Williams describe their experiences living and working aboard the International Space Station. The astronauts then answered questions related to experiments the teens performed on debris from the space shuttle Columbia.

Throughout the week, students used state-of-the-art equipment to perform failure analyses on materials from the Columbia. On Friday, the students presented the results of their failure analyses to professional judges and their family members. The winning team received iPhone cases printed from a three-dimensional printer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and they will be guests at a future ASM meeting.

WUOT’s Brandon Hollingsworth interviewed Steve Dekanich of Y-12 and Steve McDanels, Chief of NASA Materials Science Branch at Kennedy Space Center about the camp and the importance of materials science. You can listen to the interview on WUOT’s website and read more about the camp at Y-12’s website.