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Lieutenant Michelle Haggett of the U.S. Navy won the Surface Navy Association Award for Academic Excellence in Surface Warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School in March 2014. Lt. Haggett won this award based upon her research in stress corrosion cracking as a part of the Technical Corrosion Collaboration (TCC) research program, sponsored by the DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office.

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Young Researchers Credit their Career Advancement to DoD’s Technical Corrosion Collaboration

As the Technical Corrosion Collaboration (TCC) enters its seventh academic year under the aegis of the DoD Corrosion Policy and Oversight Office, at least five young scholars and professionals from Ohio State University, University of Akron, and University of Virginia (UVA) credit their academic success and subsequent career advancement to the mentoring and subsidies they received through the TCC.

"When we fund research projects at new universities and institutions who become part of the TCC, we expect them to collaborate to further the technology innovations we need to maintain and sustain DoD aircraft, ground vehicles, and facilities," said Rich Hays, deputy director of the DoD Corrosion Office. Counting this year’s winning proposals, 16 TCC- member institutions comprising eight public universities, four military academies, two military graduate schools, and two research institutes have demonstrated a commitment to this goal.

Besides encouraging technology innovation, the TCC is also committed to producing educated and experienced graduates who will join the corrosion control community of experts within DoD and its network of industry and academic supporters. Five creative engineers and scientists have recently landed jobs within DoD laboratories or military contractors. In doing so, they are furthering TCC's mission to ensure that young DoD and industry researchers can make a difference by introducing new products and processes to combat corrosion.

Christine Sanders is a research chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Key West, Florida.
Sarah Galyon Dorman works as a support contractor for the Air Force Academy’s Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension.

Christine Sanders, who earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Ohio State in 2012, believes her ability to secure her current position as a Research Chemist at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Key West, Florida, can be traced directly to the five years of graduate study and mentoring she received at Ohio State. "My coming to NRL stems 100 percent from my involvement in the TCC," she said, and added: "Had it not been for the research opportunities I received through the TCC, I would not have worked in corrosion at all."

Among Sanders' many avenues of research, she was the first to elucidate the key role of silver sulfate (Ag2SO4) in the corrosion of silver, while correlating the corrosion of metals with multiple environments, Sanders’ graduate research also allowed her to collaborate across disciplines with students from other TCC-member institutions, including polymer specialists at the University of Southern Mississippi and materials science students at UVA and the University of Hawaii.

One of TCC's strategic goals is to help graduate students who work on TCC projects to land jobs within the Department of Defense. At NRL, Key West, Sanders is allowed to channel her academic zeal for scientific research with NRL’s goal of working on naval aircraft technology. "Here at NRL, we’re not just doing basic research, we’re developing a product that will actually go into the Fleet," Sanders said. Sanders’ research, collaboration and success at NRL is the ideal model for the TCC in the eyes of Hays, LMI Senior Consultant Christopher Scurlock, and others who administer the TCC from Washington D.C.

Since Sarah Galyon Dorman earned her Master of Science degree from the University of Virginia in 2006, she has embarked on a career journey that has connected her to various support contractors who fulfill TCC-funded investigations into the causes of corrosion fatigue and other types of mechanical damage on Air Force aircraft. Over the past three years, she has worked for SAF Engineering (SAFE), a support contractor for the U.S. Air Force Academy's Center for Aircraft Structural Life Extension, or CAStLE.

"On the whole, most of my work now is for the TCC," Dorman said. In one SAFE project, Galyon Dorman is leading an effort to determine the effect of chromate primers on small-scale corrosion fatigue damage in a legacy aircraft aluminum alloy. Because her current work is headquartered at CAStLE at the Air Force Academy’s Engineering Mechanics department, Galyon Dorman attends annual meetings where TCC member institutions convene. She also remains involved in TCC through her supervision of cadet research projects.

Last year Austin Smith started working on several TCC-supported projects under Professor Homero Castaneda-Lopez in the college of engineering at the University of Akron (UA). Smith used his research into coating damage measurement and evolution to develop a master’s thesis topic related to the preservation of aircraft. His research examined zinc and aluminum copper materials, often used in military airplanes, to investigate the impact of pH levels, coating thickness, and coating applications on corrosion rates.

Austin Smith is a Ph.D. student at University of Akron.
Nicole Tailleart is a research scientist at the Navy Research Laboratory’s Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering.

Smith's research under Castaneda-Lopez allowed him to land a summer 2014 internship with Wright Patterson Air Force Base (AFB) in the Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, where he assisted with projects related to military aircraft, corrosion research, and fatigue laboratory experiments. "At Wright Patterson AFB, the part of the electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) project I was involved in had to do with developing a standard operating procedure and best practices guideline for the use of EIS on coated substrates," Smith said. "The coatings group at the Coatings Technology Integration Office (CTIO) will utilize EIS as a supplemental quality control tool for testing coatings' barrier properties and uniformity to ensure compliance with military standards."

Smith further explained his work on a source code for modeling diffusion alongside the EIS modeling project during his internship at Wright Patterson. "My involvement had to do with developing a standard operating procedure and best practices guideline for the teardown and visual analysis of coated assemblies to simulate C-5 aircraft. Between the CTIO and the Air Force Research Lab, non-destructive investigation techniques will be used to ensure compliance with military standards for future aircraft as well as for cutting costs and increasing time in the air." Smith believes that his ability to leverage his graduate research into a fruitful internship at Wright Patterson will help him with new experiments as a doctoral student at UA, and with future planning in the workforce.

Merrill Tayler’s doctoral-level construction of predictive models of coating scribe creep rates, using fractional factorial design and R software, took place in UVA’s Center for Electrochemical Science and Engineering in the Materials Science department, with the support of TCC funding. "If it wasn’t for the TCC, I don’t know where I’d be right now," Tayler said, adding that he is still involved in the TCC program through his collaboration with Professor John Scully, his advisor, as he works to publish his Ph.D.-level research findings in CORROSION journal.

Since earning his Ph.D. from UVA, Tayler has landed a position within Northrop Grumman, which will send him out to fulfill three one-year rotations to ensure that he gains experience in areas outside his educational area of expertise. His first assignment will take him to Northrop Grumman’s office in Huntsville, Alabama. Tayler sees a strong working relationship between TCC researchers and his new company.

"My involvement in TCC has afforded me the understanding and knowledge that corrosion engineering is extremely important to the design of qualified products," Tayler said. "This graduate training is definitely something that I take with me in my new job and in the projects I’ll be involved in."

In order to earn her Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, Nicole Tailleart investigated an innovative, tunable semi-amorphous alloy and its potential for providing a strong barrier, sacrificial anode, and inhibitors to aluminum substrates by way of a thermal spray coating. "The scientific significance of this work is that it considers and elucidates metallurgical, physical, and geometric factors that either govern or do not affect the corrosion performance of such coatings," she explained.

Toward the end of her doctoral research under UVA Professor Scully, Tailleart benefitted from TCC funding provided by the DoD Corrosion Office. Since earning her degree, Nicole has worked as an electrochemical engineer at SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) in support of the Naval Research Laboratory’s (NRL) Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering. She continued working for the Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering as a post-doctoral researcher, where she conducted several types of research, including an investigation into interstitially hardened stainless steels and their use in naval applications. In May 2014 she rejoined NRL's Center for Corrosion Science and Engineering as a government employee and a principal investigator for the Center's interstitial hardening project.

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