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Robert E. Schafrik, Ph.D., NAE: Materials for a Non-Steady State World

Monday, October 2, 2017, 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM
Woolf Hall 413

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Since antiquity, human society has greatly benefited from advancements in materials, and anticipation for continued improvements are a cornerstone of societal progress in the modern world. Expectations for successful introduction of new products continue to rise non-linearly--implementation of the appropriate material solution is often the key to success. This presents great challenges to the materials community; the top challenges include:  increasing the speed of development to at least twice as fast; achieving high reliability of the end product; exceeding expectations in product performance; and offering an attractive value proposition for the end user and the manufacturer. Computational modeling has been a major tool in allowing more rapid material development. But modeling alone is not sufficient to achieve the desired end result.  Three key elements are necessary: i) forward-looking materials strategy, ii) creative management of materials development, and iii) cultivation of high performance development teams. Even though several examples are presented of accelerated materials development for critical aero engine applications, many challenges remain to make such an approach common versus exceptional. The overreaching perspective should be that of an enterprise solution to accelerated development, not exclusively a materials solution.

Robert E. Schafrik, Ph.D., P.E.Robert E. Schafrik, Ph.D., NAE was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2013 for more than 40 years of innovation in materials for gas turbine engines.

He retired as general manager of the Materials and Process Engineering Department at GE Aviation in 2014 after more than 16 years in the position. During his tenure he and his team reduced the development time for several new materials, including low rhenium turbine blade alloy, R65 (a high-temperature cast-and-wrought disk alloy), and titanium aluminide turbine blade alloy, and greatly expanded the use of composite applications in engines. He was hired in 1997 as a senior staff department engineer.

From 1991-97, he staffed the National Research Council’s National Materials Advisory Board (NMAB) and Board on Manufacturing and Engineering Design (BMAED), following three years as vice president of research and development at Technology Assessment and Transfer, Inc.

Schafrik spent 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1988. He served as chief of the Long-Term Planning Division with the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO) at the Pentagon and, before that, as chief of the Air Superiority Division for the Headquarters Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) at Andrews Air Force Base.

He chaired the NRC National Materials and Manufacturing Board and the External Advisory Committee for the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Ohio State University, and was a member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

Schafrik earned his B.S. degree in metallurgy from Case Western Reserve University, an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, a second M.S. in information systems from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering from Ohio State University.

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