Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Zach Harris Awarded Inaugural Alcoa Graduate Fellowship

The 2014 recipient of the Alcoa Graduate Student Fellowship was Zach Harris. The three year award offers full tuition and a living stipend. As part of a growing partnership between Alcoa, Inc. and U.Va's Department of Material Science, the award will focus on supporting advances in metallurgical research.

Zach Harris recently joined the department as a PhD candidate under Professor Jimmy Burns. He will chiefly be investigating Monel K-500. This nickel-base alloy is frequently used for submarine fasteners, pump shafts, and oil well drill collars due to its exceptional corrosion resistance in marine environments, high strength, toughness and ductility. However, Monel K-500 is prone to hydrogen-assisted intergranular cracking.  The strength of Monel K-500 is predominately influenced by γ’ precipitates; the characteristics of these strengthening precipitates are manipulated via heat treatment of the material. This influence of different heat treatments on the hydrogen-assisted cracking behavior will be the foundation for his research.  Specifically, the hydrogen-assisted crack growth kinetics will be quantified with advanced monitoring techniques developed here at UVa.  These data will then be correlated with high fidelity characterization (e.g. EBSD, SEM, TEM) of the crack wake damage structure to understand how changing the character of the γ’ precipitates influences the hydrogen-assisted cracking behavior.

According to Zach, he and his wife are enjoying settling into the Charlottesville area and have found the adjustment from the west to east coast an easy one.