MGI Workforce Testimonials

TMS asked for testimonials from scientists and engineers in 2021, as a reflection of the first decade of progress and impact of the Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) that was first announced in 2011.

What Are the Successes of the MGI? What Should Be Addressed in the Next 10 Years?

Mark Carroll, TMS Member

As an [original equipment manufacturer (OEM)] supplier of automotive engine components, the value in MGI investment is not necessarily realized through improving advanced materials properties to perform in the most extreme applications. It is realized by optimizing materials deployment based on validation of existing systems that are subjected to, and meet the needs of, an extraordinarily wide range of potential combustion-cycle environments. Qualification protocols that are compelling to the customer and facilitate the adaptation of “new” materials into existing architectures are accelerated by the MGI approach, and engineering teams that recognize the infrastructure that has been established through MGI efforts can leverage beneficial collaborations and existing performance- and response-based data sets.

It is unlikely that key stakeholders in corporate leadership have any sort of detailed awareness of MGI, its origins, or even its general areas of focus. They are certainly cognizant, however, of increased sales and margins, resulting from exceeding customer performance requirements and efficiency targets through the cost-effective introduction of components with appropriate materials selection strategies and optimized processing approaches.

Dana Frankel, TMS Member

As a graduate student working in a research group at Northwestern University, I was immersed in the discipline of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) and its application to the accelerated design of materials, so the announcement of the MGI in 2011 came as an affirmation that I had chosen to dedicate my studies to a field that was of high priority to the U.S. government’s vision for technology advancement.

I was able to expand my training in these methodologies as part of the Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD), a NIST-funded research consortium launched in 2014 and led by Northwestern University. The CHiMaD center was established with the aim to bring together academic researchers and industry collaborators toward the primary objective of the MGI: developing the next generation of computational tools, databases, and experimental techniques to enable the accelerated design of novel materials and their integration into industry. In 2015, I joined QuesTek Innovations, which had just the previous year achieved the principal MGI goal of taking a new material from design to market in less than 10 years; in fact, using a computational design approach, QuesTek was able to bring their new high-performance Ferrium M54 steel from design to full aerospace qualification in only seven years. The credibility that the MGI has brought to QuesTek’s technology has directly contributed to the nearly 10x growth in QuesTek’s business over the past decade as funding from industry and across federal agencies has increased with the growing recognition of the value that ICME-based methodologies bring to the accelerated design and optimization of novel, high-performance materials.

In the past decade, the Materials Genome Initiative has been extremely effective in aligning the materials science community across sectors, disciplines, and subfields to acknowledge and invest in the power of ICME and the idea that materials can indeed be designed to achieve targeted performance, further accelerating the deployment of new products through the practice of engineering concurrency. Key priorities for the MGI moving forward should include: 1) continued and expanded investment in the Materials Genome itself by fostering the new experimental protocols needed to rapidly and affordably measure the fundamental data supporting rapid CALPHAD database expansion; 2) commitment to training a broad and diverse workforce in ICME-based methodologies at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels; and 2) backing for studies to apply and adapt accelerated qualification techniques across difference industries to accelerate deployment of new material across a broad range of applications.