Dialogue with Emerging Engineers
Rachael Stewart, Colorado School of Mines
Ó Springer Science?Business Media, LLC and ASM International 2017
Rachael Stewart is a graduate student at the Colorado
School of Mines in the Advanced Steel Processing and
Products Research Center, Department of Metallurgical
and Materials Engineering.
Describe your experiences with metallography
and microstructure in your undergraduate and/
or graduate studies
The best polishing advice I ever got was from an under-
graduate classmate: ‘‘Basically you want all the lines going
the same way.’’
Between my undergrad and graduate studies, I worked in
Oil and Gas, doing failure analysis and inspection, among other
things. I learned in situ metallography. I learned to work clean
in dirty environments, often wearing layers of PPE. Pulling
replicas really made me appreciate the metallography lab.
In graduate school, I was delighted to have access to an
auto-polisher. It really cut down on polishing time, especially
with the amount of samples I needed to prepare. The new
challenge here was looking at microstructures of advanced
high strength steels. These were very new to me-mixed
microstructures, and very ﬁne microstructures. I’m still
learning to be comfortable interpreting these microstructures.
What do you ﬁnd most interesting about the ﬁeld
of materials science and engineering?
It answers the question ‘‘Why?’’
Why do materials behave the way they do? Or why
don’t they behave in a way that ﬁts a useful application?
We are always looking for the connections between
structure, properties, processing, and performance.
“People should know about the
materials technology that affects their
lives, and the amount of work needed
to develop the technology – the years
of research that went into the glass in
mobile phones and thin film coatings
on prescription glasses, the
engineering that goes into automotive
steels, and the hundreds of problems
that have to be solved, the thousands
of hours of work that represents.”
– Rachael Stewart
Metallogr. Microstruct. Anal. (2017) 6:623–624