Jiwon Kim receives Sykes Prize

Jiwon Kim

When senior Jiwon Kim returned home to South Korea when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she was able to complete her senior project by working jointly with both Professor John Lewandowski and Professor Eun Soo Park at Seoul National University in Seoul, South Korea. Kim’s project, “Development of a new thermodynamic approach for the phase stability analysis of a maraging steel,” earned her the Wesley P. Sykes prize, which is awarded annually to a materials science and engineering student with the “most outstanding research and thesis.”

 Kim, who previously researched with Park’s group as part of a summer internship, worked with Park’s research group to develop a new calculation approach for phase stability analysis of an alloy based on the second law of thermodynamics. Their main goal is to develop a new composition of maraging steel. The group had to find a range of compositions that resulted in body centered cubic phase at room temperature after annealing. They used thermo-calc software to compute the Gibbs free energies of each phase in each composition. The relative Gibbs free energy values are then computed by subtracting from each other, indicating the alloy’s relative tendency for body centered cubic phase transformation. The variants of maraging steels that Kim examined to create complex concentrated alloys have been mentored by both Park and Lewandowski through weekly progress reports.

 One of the things Kim appreciated most during her research was using what she learned in class in her research. “The initial approach we had was to manually input each composition into Thermo-calc for the calculation of the Gibbs free energy and recording the results each time, but I have decided to use Matlab to generate over 30,000 compositions for 5 compositional systems and mass-calculating the Gibbs free energy values by writing a code that automatically inputs the values,” she said.  “If I hadn't taken computer programming in CWRU, I wouldn't have been able to think of doing something like this.”

Kim’s interest in materials science and engineering began when she took EMSE 110: Transitioning Ideas to Reality as a freshman at CWRU. “I realized the wide variety of applications of materials, from dental implants to metal alloys,” she said. “Materials Science is the major that covers topics that chemical engineers and mechanical engineers learn, so I thought it is the best field of engineering that has a strong base in science.” Her main interest is metallurgy, but she is also interested in semiconducting materials. She hopes to pursue a Master of Science at Seoul National University.

 During her time at CWRU, she researched metal matrix composites with Lewandowski and Associate Professor Matthew Willard. She credited both faculty members for not only guiding her through research sessions, but for encouraging her to speak about the high-temperature powder forging of Al-SiC MMCs at the 2018 Materials Science and Technology Conference. The aforementioned conference was her first public speaking experience.

 "I've always wanted to become someone who makes people's lives better or easier,” said Kim. “I think there is a lot I can do to accomplish this as a materials engineer. For example, if the new maraging steel composition we are designing successfully shows superior mechanical properties, it may be used as a stronger and more lightweight alternative for aerospace and automotive applications and enhance people's safety convenience in transportation.”