Graduate Member Spotlight
Materials Science and Engineering
Expected Graduation Date: 2020
University of Pittsburgh
Erica currently serve as a SWE Counselor for the University of Pittsburgh, continuing a long legacy of involvement in Pitt SWE. Past roles include Corporate Relations Chair and Vice President. She is most proud of her work as Vice President (with then President Dhanu Thiyagaragen) to increase the number of officers, members, and events. They were able to strengthen the section by encouraging a sense of community and making sure that the work was spread out among all of the officers so that they could get a lot done without overwhelming anyone. During her time as Vice President, she attended WE14 in Los Angeles. She still reflects on what an amazing experience it was and a particular session presentation about giving and receiving criticism.
In her current role, she works to strengthen the relationship between the undergraduate and graduate women in engineering. She is proud of the strength of the Pitt SWE collegiate section and has found that she is most useful when she steps back and lets the current leadership know that she is there for anything they need.
A self-described chronic leader, Erica is a past President and current Secretary of the University of Pittsburgh Engineering Graduate Student Organization, current President of the Oakland Toastmasters Club, current Area 34 Director for District 13 of Toastmasters International, and President-Elect of the Microscopy Society of America Student Council.
Erica’s achievements have been recognized nationally, as she was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) Honorable Mention in 2016 and a National Defense Science & Engineering Graduate Fellowship (NDSEG) in 2017. Her research has been the recipient of numerous awards, including 1st place at a 2017 WE Local Graduate Poster Contest (SWE), 3rd place at the 2018 Microscopy & Microanalysis Physical Sciences Poster Contest (Microscopy Society of America), and 1st and 3rd place at the Young Member’s Night Graduate Poster Contest (American Society for Microbiology) in 2016 and 2018, respectively. In 2017 she received multiple travel grants and scholarships from the Pitt MEMS Department, the Pitt Graduate and Professional Student Government, and The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. In 2018 she was the recipient of the Josephine and John McCloskey Memorial Grant, a University of Pittsburgh scholarship for study abroad.
Thesis Title: Additive Manufacturing of Magnetocaloric Ni-Mn-Based Alloys
Magnetocaloric materials change temperature in an applied or removed magnetic field. This effect is reversible and so can be used in a heat pump. One of the primary applications goals of these materials is to create more efficient commercial refrigerators. This is not an impossible goal, and some initial prototypes have already been introduced. However, efficient production and optimized materials are areas that still require improvement. Erica’s research focuses on using additive manufacturing (3D printing) as an effective production method so that design is not limited to machining capabilities. Furthermore she uses a material that is less expensive and does not pose the potential health concerns that the current materials in use do.
Erica absolutely loves microscopy, and her future career will likely include significant microscope use! Besides that, she also enjoys being a leader, problem solver, and teacher. She is aiming for a career in facilities management, where she can do all of the above!
Outside of lab, Erica enjoys gardening, photography, biking, running, and bread-making.
Fun Fact about Erica: Erica did research for 5 weeks in Spain over the summer, though she couldn’t speak any Spanish!