Virtual Congressional Visits Day 2021 recap

The Material Advantage Student Program’s Virtual Congressional Visits Day (CVD) was held on April 20 – 22, 2021. The CVD is an annual event that gives students an opportunity to visit Washington to educate Congressional decision makers about the importance of funding for basic science, engineering and technology. While we were not able to physically be in D.C. this year, we were able to move forward by offering a virtual program.

The virtual CVD experience began with a welcome event on April 20, featuring talks by:

  • Dr. Alex Martin, 2019-2020 TMS/MRS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow
  • Matthew Hourihan, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • Dr. Megan Malara, 2020-2021 TMS/MRS Congressional Science & Engineering Fellow

After the talks concluded, the students were provided with a chance to go into break out rooms to further organize their teams and to do some role-play in advance of their appointments in the following days.

This year’s student attendees worked hard to schedule congressional visits with legislators and staffers for April 21 and 22. Despite their hard work, it proved to be a difficult task to schedule congressional visits due to many factors outside of attendees’ control.

As they have done in the past, the Washington D.C. Chapter of ASM International along with the Washington DC/Maryland/Northern Virginia Section of The American Ceramic Society (ACerS) co-hosted an online networking event on the evening of April 22 which gave the virtual CVD attendees an opportunity to network with local professionals in the DC area. Additionally, the Washington D.C. Chapter of ASM arranged for a speaker from DARPA who presented a talk on Advances in Personal Protection (PPE) Strategies and Technologies.

The Material Advantage virtual CVD event was attended this year by a total of 27 students and faculty from the following universities:

Boise State University
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
Iowa State University
Michigan Technological University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Purdue University
San Jose State University
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
University of Maryland, College Park
University of Michigan
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Continued thanks to Dr. David Bahr, head and professor of materials engineering at Purdue University, and Dr. Iver Anderson, senior metallurgist at Ames Laboratory and adjunct professor in the Materials Science and Engineering department at Iowa State University, for conducting the training on how to visit with legislators and for their assistance over the years in helping to coordinate CVD. Dr. Bahr and Dr. Anderson both serve on the Material Advantage Committee, an advisory committee that provides recommendations and feedback about the program to the four partnering organization’s leadership.

An additional thank you to Dr. Stephen Kampe, chair and professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Technological University for helping to co-host the CVD welcome event this year.

If you are a student and did not get a chance to participate this year, make sure that you plan to register for the 2022 event, which we hope to hold in-person in Washington D.C.! Or if you are a professor/faculty advisor, make sure to plan on gathering a group together from your university. Visit the Material Advantage website for future updates: It is an opportunity that you won’t want to miss!