The Material Advantage UNT chapter, a student organization for those studying materials science and engineering, received the 2020-2021 Most Outstanding Chapter Award, a national recognition awarded by Material Advantage.

“Our materials science program is one of few that offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the state of Texas, so having the Material Advantage student chapter – and a really active one – offers a great opportunity for our students to connect with those from other chapters and programs nationwide. We are really proud of the achievements of what the UNT MA chapter has made so far,” said Jincheng Du, Department of Materials Science and Engineering professor and faculty adviser to the Material Advantage UNT chapter.

The Material Advantage UNT chapter was established in 2009 and has since gone on to organize a number of student activities, including three materials summer camps sponsored by ASM International. The summer camps were designed to promote educating K-12 students about materials science and STEM. Since then, the student organization’

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s creativity, hard work, dedication, and determination has only flourished. Notably, a team representing the MA UNT chapter won the 2017 TMS Materials Bowl, a national materials-themed knowledge and trivia competition, among steep competition from universities nationwide.

This past year, the group, now with 61 members in its chapter, focused on membership growth and outreach, launched a creative and popular social media campaign, and created a new mentorship program. They also coordinated virtual lab tours throughout the pandemic to offer students the chance to learn more about materials science, connect with faculty, and gain insight into how they could get involved in research at the college.

“It was very critical, especially during a pandemic when you didn’t have an opportunity to go to these sorts of events to find new ways to engage our members,” said Stacey Nguyen, vice president of the organization. “We also developed a points system that helped reward our members for participating in virtual events and webinars either put on by us or by national societies.”

The social media campaign, Material Monday, spotlighted a new material each week, ranging from bubble wrap to diamonds to skateboards. It not only helped with membership growth, but also allowed the chapter to help educate the general public about the field of materials science.

“Material Monday was our way of advertising materials around the house and breaking it down so our followers would better understand the everyday items around you,” said Gerardo Gamboa, president of the student chapter.

The mentorship program matched upper and lower classmen with one another to foster a deeper connection to the program, university, and field of materials science. Mentors and mentees met weekly to discuss their personal and professional goals and their progress along the way. It also provided students the opportunity to network, gain leadership skills and make new friends.

Five representatives from the Material Advantage UNT chapter leadership team accepted the award Oct. 19 at the 2021 MS&T national conference.