AFRL senior scientist to receive prestigious materials science and engineering achievement award

  • Published
  • By Marisa Alia-Novobilski
  • Air Force Research Laboratory

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- A senior scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate will receive the prestigious 2018 ASM International Albert Sauver Achievement Award in fall, 2018.

Dr. Sheldon “Lee” Semiatin, the Air Force Senior Scientist for Materials Processing and Processing Science, will be recognized for significant contributions to materials research and development that have led to the establishment of the discipline of Processing Science, impacting the worldwide research endeavor.

“I am honored to be recognized, but what makes this award so meaningful to me is that it also recognizes the influence and impact of AFRL and our research enterprise in general,” said Semiatin. “This is good for the Air Force and shows the worldwide influence of our efforts.”

Semiatin began his research career more than 40 years ago, following studies in mechanics, metallurgy and materials science, receiving his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University and both his master’s and doctoral degrees from Carnegie-Mellon University. He spent the first 14 years of his career at Batelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, developing innovative technical solutions for materials-processing problems for a wide range of government and industrial clients.

At the same time Semiatin was developing his material processing expertise, he also spent time as an adjunct professor at The Ohio State University where he mentored a number of masters and doctoral students working in the area of advanced materials and processes. He continues to work with students today, advising and mentoring students at The Ohio State University, Wright State University and the University of Dayton.

“I’ve always believed in the importance of developing people. It’s important to help them to understand their strengths and weaknesses so you can fully utilize the strengths and minimize weaknesses,” he said.

In 1991, Semiatin accepted a position as a Research Leader in Metals Processing at the Air Force Materials Laboratory, the predecessor to today’s Materials and Manufacturing Directorate. In this capacity, he and his team explored the mechanical response, microstructure evolution and workability of diverse materials such as titanium alloys, superalloys, intermetallic alloys and steels during thermomechanical and solidification processing. He applied this research to develop and help commercialize processing knowledge and process-modelling techniques, working extensively with the Air Force’s industrial supply base to help them improve the affordability and durability of Air Force components.  

In 1996, Semiatin was appointed as the Air Force Senior Scientist in Materials Processing and Processing Science, the position he still holds today. He serves as the Air Force authority on processing issues and techniques for conventional and advanced materials for today’s and future Air Force platforms. Semiatin works extensively with industry leaders as well as with Air Force Program Offices, providing expertise on diverse processing problems.

His unique perspectives and experience incorporate a physics-based approach to material processing issues, using science to solve engineering problems across a wide spectrum of applications.

“I’ve spent my career helping to lay the foundations for metals processing science,” said Semiatin. “Metals processing has traditionally been viewed as a blacksmithing endeavor but has now turned into something with a sound scientific foundation that we have transitioned into the industrial environment.”

Though Semiatin’s work has led to more than 400 journal and conference publications, a number of books, nine patents and countless awards over the years, what is of greater importance to him is that he has the opportunity to show others, particularly young scientists and engineers, that a career in research at a Department of Defense laboratory can be motivating and fulfilling, both personally and professionally.

“Our people are presented with so many opportunities. However, I believe that it is still possible to have a huge impact for the Air Force if one retains a focus on formulating, conducting, leading and transitioning basic and applied research,” he said.

Semiatin also believes in the importance of maintaining a long-term view of research issues, as it takes time for breakthroughs in science to occur.

“Experience and depth in a career help you to home in on a solution to a problem much more quickly, especially as you get older,” he said. “In my experience, a number of things in research that we say are ‘revolutionary’ are actually ‘evolutionary’ changes viewed in hindsight. The Sauveur Award is a wonderful recognition of work over many years to develop and implement a methodology to make new and better products for the Air Force.”

Semiatin will receive the 2018 ASM International Albert Sauvuer Achievement Award at a ceremony in Columbus, Ohio, during the Annual ASM Materials Science and Technology Conference. The award citation will read, “For seminal research and development that has established the discipline of Processing Science and spurred related work in academia, industry and government laboratories worldwide.”