As is customary, MetSoc has a changing of the guard to share. We’d like to introduce you to Edouard Asselin, Professor at the University of British Columbia and latest MetSoc President. He is a familiar face to many, and we’re glad to support him on his latest journey with our Society. Read below to discover his bold plans for the future.
Written by Justin Mulfati, Sensov Marketing
Congratulations on being named the new MetSoc President. Your predecessor Elvi Dalgaard said that the nomination allowed her to “give back” to the community that gave her so much. What does this role mean to you?
I agree with Elvi, this is an opportunity for me to serve the community that has supported my professional development. It is also a community within which I have made many friends. I am happy and proud to be one of its temporary stewards.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your relationship to the Society over the years.
I first attended COM as a graduate student in 2003. I had never attended a conference prior to this, and I remember well the feeling of excitement that I had about learning what others in my field were studying. When I started as an Assistant Professor at UBC in 2007, I was asked to stand-in for a colleague at a MetSoc Board meeting. Over the next 2 years I served as Materials Performance Section Chair, then as Student Services Chair from 2010 to 2016. In 2014, I was asked to co-Chair the Hydrometallurgy conference. In 2016, I was asked to take the role of 3rd Vice-President, which brings me to where I am today. I have had a relatively long relationship with MetSoc, and I have learned a lot both professionally and personally through these various experiences. I have worked with great people at all levels of the organization. I am very grateful for, and humbled by, the opportunities that MetSoc has allowed me.
Describe your vision for the Society – what actions do you plan on taking that will improve or maintain the standard of excellence MetSoc is known for?</h3
MetSoc is only as strong as its membership, which serves as its volunteer base. Strong volunteers result in excellent conferences. The Society needs to continue to attract dedicated members at all ages and levels of experience. However, time and again, I have seen that long-term and active membership most often starts with students. To maintain our standard of excellence, student members need to be encouraged to get involved. This starts with supporting our student Chapters, our scholarships and our COM travel funding programs: over the last 20 years these incentives have increased substantially in number, scope and funding level. Our outreach is further extended via the Emerging Professionals program, which helps new graduates and employees get involved and supports their activities within MetSoc during their early career years.
That being said, the most important actions that I will take include strengthening student outreach and the Emerging Professionals (EP) program. I will work with the Student Services Chair and the new Membership Services Chair to these ends. Specifically, we will institute new student challenges to increase involvement and rationalize the student award application process. For the EP program, we will ensure that EPs get immediately involved in the Society’s business. In addition to these steps, MetSoc is also rolling out a new strategic plan, which will rejuvenate our vision and ensure that MetSoc is focused on maintaining or improving member experiences.
You’re a scholar at heart, would you agree? How do you think we can enhance the role of academia in the overall landscape of metallurgy and related fields?
My job certainly entails scholarship – I am definitely curious about the chemistries that I study and I enjoy discovering new phenomena. Academia is already well represented within MetSoc. In fact, one of the great things about COM is the generally rigorous nature of the scientific work that is presented from both academia and industry. In fact, I would argue that the latter is what has been most important in making our programming different from other similar conferences. In terms of the role of academia in the overall landscape of metallurgy and related fields, this can only be supported, or enhanced, through consistent government and industry research funding. Importantly, though, academic research is not usually effective when it occurs in a vacuum, so I think industry and government need to maintain their own internal research capacity. The interactions between government, industry and academic research professionals are key to innovation and key to COM’s success. Historically, these interactions have been relatively strong in Canada, though there is always room for improvement.
Name something about yourself that most people aren’t aware of.
I’m actually a mechanical engineer. After obtaining my bachelors and working a few summers as a mechanical engineer, I decided that metallurgy was much more interesting! That change in focus is what led me to grad school. I’m very happy I made that decision.