ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - 16

Solving these investigations is pivotal to avoiding what went
wrong, and for the continued safe operation of the materials
through preventative measures.
" YOU'RE TRYING TO PREVENT
A CATASTROPHE; you're trying to
prevent something that's avoidable
if the right material is used, "
McPherson explains.
She points to vehicle bodies to illustrate the need to answer
these queries in the real world.
" In the summertime if you're sideswiped, that car is going to
compress. It's going to absorb some of that energy. In the
cold of winter, that material needs to be built to also meet
that impact, so it doesn't just shatter and fracture and break
into a million pieces. So that's the types of material testing
that material technologists would do. "
The testing is compounded by a need to exercise caution on
the part of decision makers. In Honkala's case, for instance,
he was always being brought novel, seemingly promising
ideas meant to improve the bridges' performance.
During his time as a bridge inspector, Honkala saw all kinds
of new solutions proposed to advance the field. These included
adding coatings to the rebar, such as stainless steel
or epoxy, or tying puck-shaped objects around rebar, to act
as a " sacrificial animal " in his words.
Another idea implemented in places was to hook up electrical
wiring around rebar. The wiring would have a current run
through it to act as a corrosion protection system. A fascinating
prospect, but one Honkala said ultimately wasn't
worth the money spent from a lifecycle perspective.
This finding was common; Honkala says that often, money
was spent on things that didn't line up with their intended
purpose.
" I've developed a bit of skepticism over the years that makes
sure that I know who that message is coming from before I
invest, " Honkala reflects. " If somebody's got an active corrosion
protection system that's going to cost a million dollars
on a bridge, and there's a claim that it's going to extend
the life of the bridge by 40 years or whatever, [I need to]
make sure that I'm getting that information from a university
laboratory, not from the company that's selling that. "
The need to maintain that attention to detail is made clear
when looking at what happens in its absence. Take the Apollo
13 moon mission. The issue there was caused when exposed
wires inside the oxygen tank caught fire and caused the
tank's explosion. Luckily everyone made it out. The price was
steeper in other incidents, like the Deepwater Horizon oil well
spill, which cost 11 lives and massive environmental damage.
Among other oversights was defective cement at the bottom
of the well which failed to contain oil and gas in the well bore.
Despite how vital materials testing is to our safety, the massive
scope of the field means that some might fail to understand
the nature of the work. Tiedemann herself had little
idea until she began her schooling.
" I wish that it was better known and better understood in the
industry, " says Tiedemann, " because the main thing that I
think people need to know about this program is just, it's so
diverse. You come out of school, with some understanding
in all these different types of materials. And that can take
you to any industry, any industry at all, as long as there's a
material involved that you can get into. "
Triolaire has had similar experiences with new students at
times, in which they don't know what to expect of the program.
" Sometimes people sign up for materials because they
might think it's like materials handling, so like warehousetype
work where you run a forklift or something like that ...
One time we had a student, [and] she thought it was like
textile stuff, " he recalls with a laugh.
The intrigue or misunderstanding around materials engineering
technologists doesn't diminish from their daily role
in public safety.
" ASET ALWAYS HAS THE
STATEMENT: 'We're here to
protect the public,' and materials
engineering technologists do
that, " McPherson says. " They
are protecting the public. "
From bridges to boats, from cars to coffee cups, from pipes
to planes. Wherever there's a material, there's a technology
professional keeping a close eye on preventing its failure -
or figuring out why it failed in the first place.
" It's in every aspect of everything that we touch, " McPherson
says.
16 | SPRING 2024 | TECHNOLOGY ALBERTA
https://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/15/science/earth/15spill.html

ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024

Contents
ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - Cover1
ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - A1
ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - A2
ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - Contents
ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - 5
ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - 6
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ASET Technology Alberta Spring 2024 - Cover2
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