Milad Rezvani Rad wins GSA Research Assistant Award

PhD student finds aesthetic and professional rewards in RA position

Robyn Braun - 23 March 2019

Milad Rezvani Rad, a fourth year PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, has been awarded The Graduate Students' Association Graduate Student Research Assistant Award. The award recognizes graduate students who have demonstrative innovation, versatility and value in their RA positions at the U of A.

Milad works as a Research Assistant for Dr. André McDonald, who is one of Milad's two supervisors, and who nominated him for the award. Milad is co-supervised by Professor Christian Moreau of Concordia University in Montréal, Québec, through the Green Surface Engineering for Advanced Manufacturing NSERC Strategic Network. In Professor McDonald's lab, Milad works on projects to develop multi-layered thermal-sprayed coating systems. Specifically, Milad investigates thermal-sprayed coatings that can act as heating systems and mitigate the negative effects of cold weather and ice accumulation in steel pipes and pipelines. Milad characterizes and analyzes the microstructure and electrical and mechanical performances of various thermal-sprayed coatings.

While one may not expect to find beauty in an engineering lab, it is exactly this that Milad likes best about his work.

"The best part of my RA is when I take high-magnification images of the coatings using a scanning electron microscope. The patterns are beautiful," he says.

Milad also finds these patterns useful in thinking about the characteristics of the materials he's analyzing.

"It's interesting to see how the patterns of the coatings' microstructures relate to their performance and their functionality."

Perhaps not surprisingly for a science looking at microstructures, there are many factors that Milad must consider when thinking about the functionality of his materials.

"Even the parameters that seem negligible can have a noticeable effect on the functionality and their resulting performance."

Through his RA position, Milad has acquired more than just technical skills. He has had the chance to collaborate with industrial partners and to build his professional network. Milad has presented his research at international thermal spray meetings and has participated in the NSERC Green Surface Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Strategic Network. With such experience behind him, Milad also mentors the younger students in his lab.

"My RA position contributes significantly to my professional development. I have so many opportunities to participate in decision making and to develop leadership skills."

The GSA RA award is not Milad's first award. He has also received the U of A's Doctoral Recruitment Scholarship, the Gilpin Memorial Scholarship and the International Thermal Spray Association's Graduate Scholarship.