George J. Ferko V

A collection of posts from the adventures and day to day activities of George Joseph Ferko V.

Why We Will Find A Way

Because no obstacle is too big with persistence and the willingness to commit everything you have.

This week reports have been released showing the performance of the new offices around the country and my office has fallen drastically short of where we want to be.  I think for most people they might look at what we have done in Philadelphia and say that I should be proud of how far we have come, that few others could have done better, that we are on the right track, and that we are doing the right things.

New DM Journal 1st Summer Campaign Standings

Vector Marketing national new district office rankings for the summer campaign.

Thank you for the congratulations, but the greatest congratulations will come in the form of measurable success.  We are not the number one office, we are not the number one new office, and we aren’t even beating the offices whose managers expected to get beaten by our office.  What we have done so far is just the very beginning.

What we have done so far is a failure, but it is the best kind of failure.  It is the kind of failure that you work endlessly and tirelessly to have.  It is the kind of failure that puts your back up against a wall and makes you create great new ideas that otherwise would never be thought of.  It is the kind of failure that shows you where things need to be changed and enlightens you about the way your world works.  It’s the kind of failure that separates your friends from your adversaries and draws you closer to the people that really believe in you and your vision.  There is really only one better feeling than knowing you have given you all and failed and that better feeling is knowing you have given you all and succeeded.  We are at a precipice and there is know doubt in my mind about whether we are about to fall off of that cliff or climb up it.  We will climb.

Why? That’s a question I ask myself everyday.  Why are we still fighting?  The answer is, because that is what we do.  Steve Touré is a new member of my team who just officially hit his first promotion, which we give new team members at $1000 in career sales.  In Steve’s first ten demos he sold one trimmer (if you aren’t in the knife slinging business that equates to $56 in sales after three days of training, coming in at 7am everyday, and going out using the bus to get to 10 different in person appointments). $56 equates to $5.60 earned for the sales representative.  Now don’t get me wrong, we pay our sales folks when they don’t sell as well, but it doesn’t feel good to get paid for not succeeding.  I asked Steve why he kept going…

Steve said, “At my school they taught us to be warriors and warriors don’t quit.  They just keep fighting and going forward.” Steve Touré is the Valedictorian of the 2014 graduating class of the Boys Latin Philadelphia Charter School.


The Rittenhouse Square team at the Summer Elevation Conference (picture left to right, Joziah Green, Ibrahim Ridley, Joey Olivo, George Ferko, Antonella Filipuzzi-Barcelona, Steve Touré, Diana Smith, Khari Goosby, Sherice Burton, Krianna Pablo)

I don’t think Steve’s goal is to be the best in the nation, although he is just as capable as anyone I have ever met in our company.  I don’t think mentally he is there quite yet.  I don’t think he wants to be the best and accomplish the impossible or do things with our company that nobody has ever done before, but the principle of persistence is the same no matter what your goal is.  We will find a way because we can, because we won’t allow others to dictate what can and can’t be accomplished, because we choose to find a way to succeed and to live passionately no matter what has happened and no matter what happens in the future, and because finding a way is what we do.  Persistence means one thing.  You don’t stop.

You don’t stop.

Why are we worried about describing what we do?

Being in the recruiting business makes you think really deeply about how you describe what you do, what your company does, and what the open positions you have entail.  I can’t help but feel like most of the people I interact with seem to embellish their roles, lack transparency, and fear that others will think less of them because of what they do and what their company does.  I think that the only problem these sort of people have is their own lack of confidence in their ability to have the big impact they have always wanted to have on the world and starting to have that impact in the role they are currently in.  I think this problem is rampant through all industries and for all entry-level people.  Entry-level folks fail to realize their own value and potential and they don’t yet share the power of the vision of their companies.

About 2 years ago I was in MacGrady’s, one of my favorite spots in Bethlehem, PA, to grab a beer and I was talking to a young lady who should have graduated from Lehigh the same year that I did.  I asked her what she had been up to and she told me, “I work in the minerals industry.”  She gave me this nearly unsolicited description of her professional position that she had decided was an impressive way to describe where she was working.  I was intrigued by the vagueness and her apparent lack of confidence in what she was doing so I followed up with, “That’s awesome! Where are your offices?”  Since I know a little bit about the bigger businesses that exist in the Lehigh Valley her answer of, “Our headquarters are off of Schoenersville Road,” was enough to let me know that she works at FLSmidth and I responded with, “Oh, you guys sell cement plants?” and she looked broken by my response.

There was really no need for her to be unhappy with what her company does.  FLSmidth is an amazing company that provides cement plants that help build the world’s infrastructure and improve our global economy and I’m sure their executives realize the importance of their company in the future of the world, but why was this one young lady so ashamed of their company’s primary business that she didn’t want to refer to it directly?

For a while I’ve been experimenting to find out the right way to describe what I do and I’ve been thinking about what makes a job impressive or desirable or both.  A couple weeks ago a young lady asked me where I work and I said, “Rittenhouse Square-how about you?”  She had this immediate look of being impressed, which is always funnier than the really confused look I get when I just say, “I sell knives.”

Lion Crushing a Serpent - Antoine Louis Barye

This sculpture can be found in Rittenhouse Square and is called Lion Crushing a Serpent by Antoine Louis Barye

The next day I used her reaction to change my recruiting and advertising strategy and started writing things like:

 Student Summer Positions…

…in Rittenhouse Square

into my advertising materials.  The day after that I designed a coat of arms to better reflect the prestige of the location.  Regardless of how this impacts recruiting I think that it’s interesting that someone can assume that they will be satisfied by their work just because of location or that a young lady at a bar can assume that what I do is important simply by me giving her an approximate address.  The truth is that the value of a person’s position doesn’t come from where they are located or what their company sells or how their products impact the world.  A person’s position becomes valuable when they are passionate about what they do and passion is gained when a person has a firm vision of their impact on their circle of influence.  You can have the impact that you want to and be the person you want to be no matter what company you’re in.  It doesn’t matter whether you manufacture and sell pressure gauges or kitchen knives or financial services you control the impact you have on those around you.  What can you change today in your own position to make yourself more passionate about what you do?

Finding Your Passion

Bottom line up front: “…you know you have found your passion when you can’t sleep through the night because you wake up thinking about what you will do to tomorrow.”

A few weeks ago I woke up in the morning like I normally do and went about my morning routine of making a smoothie, eating breakfast, showering, dressing, and searching for inspiring things to listen to while I go about my process.  My search for inspiration always includes a quick browse of my twitter feed, my flipboard subscriptions, and normally and lastly I look to facebook, but on this morning I found a video that had been posted by an old fraternity brother of mine Eric Schiech.

He posted a link to Urban Outlaw which is basically an interview of a man named Magnus Walker and something about the video immediately drew me in.

Screen Shot 2014-04-05 at 12.14.11 AM

After a couple of minutes of watching the video I realized I needed to head to my office so I continued to watch the video intermittently at red lights as I drove.  The thing is that I was completely captivated by what the man was saying.  His interview and his way of talking and mostly his vision and his passion distracted me from everything else around me.  So much so that I forgot that I needed to get gas before I went into the office and I ran out of gas on the side of the highway after passing several gas stations.

2014-03-09 17.25.48

As I waited for my roadside assistance to arrive and give me the gas I needed to get to a gas station I watched the rest of the video and was struck with the most profound thought.  Magnus said, “Obsessive behavior, my wife will tell you all about that.  You know I don’t sleep all the way through and a lot of time I am trying to mentally… I go through it in my mind, you know what… how am I going to make this work tomorrow? What’s going to be the better way to get that fender to fit, or to install those seats, or to get that bolt out with the head sheared off? Whatever it may be it’s dummy run in my mind. I got to make the next one better.  You know it’s sort of like when you hear about bands and they’ve done their best album, you know they’ve got to up that with the next album.  So for me that’s what drives me to make the next car better than the one that came before it.” -Magnus Walker, Urban Outlaw

I remembered that you know you have found your passion when you can’t sleep through the night because you wake up thinking about what you will do to tomorrow and you can’t sleep because the your mind reels with different scenarios and opportunities you may be about to encounter.

Immediately I knew that I was in the right place and that my recent sleep deprived nights and the similar nights that I knew were to come were all a great thing.  I realized or maybe I just remembered that stress and obsession were just a sign that I am doing what I was meant to do and more importantly, what I want to do.

I don’t know what happened to Magnus.  Maybe his ventures and his company and his brand have since failed and I don’t care to know what has become of him.  What I do know is that he reminded me that we are at our best when we are obsessed and completely involved in what we are doing and I am forever grateful for that reminder.

Work until you’ve found something that you care about so much that you wake up dreaming about your passion.



Mad River – Redeeming Qualities

For months I’ve been living in Manayunk and my least favorite place to go has been Mad River until yesterday.  I always get sucked into going there somehow even though I’ve repeatedly explained to my friends how against it I am.  They’ll wait until I’ve been properly lubricated and then Kyle will say something like, “Come on man,” or “I’ll pay your cover,” or “I’ll buy shots,” or “That’s where all the whores are,” or some combination of those things.  Even though none of these prospective reasons to go appeal to me in any serious fashion for some reason this approach works extremely well and I end up going to Mad River at least once a week.

There are plenty of reasons for me not to go there and a quick look at the reviews for the bar will give you most of the necessary information.  Your average Joe would say the bar is too expensive, too dirty, too trashy, too young, the cover is too much for the quality of venue, the guys are too douchey, immature, aggressive… whatever.  None of these things would make me take a bar out of my rotation of places to visit.  My biggest reason for not going there is that the music is so loud that other people can’t here me talk and since good company and quality conversation are two of my favorite things this is a big hit.  Secondly, the bar is definitely a dancing bar and I am not a dancer.  Years of accelerated growth has brought me to a commanding height of 6’5″ and a dancing ability of a person suffering from some form of palsy.  The combination of these two things means that most of the time I’m at Mad River I’m thinking about my exit strategy, but I have discovered that this bar has one huge redeeming quality.  Football games.

I had never taken notice before because I had never been there for football before, but for the final Eagles game of the season James, Kyle, and I ventured from the standing-room-only Pitchers Pub to the spacious and accommodating Mad River.  We walked in at half-time and dance music was playing and I feared the worst.  I asked at least three bouncers if they music would be turned off during the game and they all told me it would be turned off and the game audio would be on, but from my past experiences at this place I was a little skeptical.  I was wrong to be.  Mad River is all about football when there is an NFL game on and it might be the best place to watch in Manayunk.  For the biggest game of the season it wasn’t too crowded.  It’s not that there weren’t a ton of people there, it’s just that Mad River is huge and can accommodate an unreasonable number of drunk people dancing or the perfect number of sports fans.  Everyone that was there came to watch the game and high-fives were being dished out liberally after big plays and touchdowns.  There was a great special on huge beer towers.  Every booth has it’s own TV and the back of the bar is lined with the standard coating of flat-screens that has become commonplace at any bar where sports fans gather.  The game audio is played loud enough that everyone can hear whats going on.  And the apps were surprisingly tasty.  I had some fried pickle chips, which I’ve never had before, that kicked butt in the cajun remoulade that accompanied them.

I realize that none of these things are huge game changers, but all I’m saying is I was more comfortable watching the game there then I have been anywhere else in Manayunk.  The only disappointing part was that as soon as the Saints kicked their final field goal and the game ended the dance music began blast and it seemed like ten minutes went by before the usual myriad of undesirables began to pour in.

Given that this was a Saturday game it might have been ok to stick around, but the fireball shots were flying, dancing was beginning to take the crowd over, I started to remember the Mad River I have grown to dislike, and I remembered that I had a ton of work to do the next day so I beelined out of the front door without saying goodbye and collapsed in my bed.

I’m always going to prefer bars where I can talk, but I have to admit that my mind is changed about Mad River and considering that it is only a two or three minute walk from my house I will definitely be back for any sporting even that they support.

Shorty’s Bar – A Disappointment Even For $2 Drinks


After being at a leadership development conference for two days I decided to meet up with my friend James and indulge in some of the locally available libations at Shorty’s Bar. Shorty’s is a subterranean college town dive bar populated by the students of Kutztown University and I had a great time visiting there until they cut me off for no apparent reason which for all intents and purposes is worse than being kicked out.

We arrived around 9:30PM before the usual crowd started to pile in and began consuming “$2 U-CALL-IT” LIT’s—made by pouring an unmarked mystery liquid out of a plastic bottle into a plastic ice filled 12oz cup until the cup is a third full, filling the rest of the way up with cola, adding a splash of sour mix—which weren’t very good or strong, but were only two dollars so we drank more than a few.  It took some effort, but by the time drunk college girls started to arrive we had strapped on a good buzz.  We introduced ourselves to a group of former girls’s basketball playing Kutztown Alumni and suggested they join us on our LIT adventure and they did and James decided it would be easier to order our drinks in bulk quantity and pour them all into pitchers for convenience and sharing purposes.  He is an innovator.  Like most geniuses of our time his advancement on the drinking process was not well received and the barman cut him off after a few pitchers and some shots.

Two of the basketball ladies were interested in us and made for some entertaining company, but the sweaty college dance floor has lost it’s appeal to me over the last six years so I decided to to explore the rear bar and look for some more entertainment.

The rear bar was run by impatient men in security shirts instead of bar tenders, but they helped me decide on a pitcher of kamikaze shots and security stopped by to remind us that James wasn’t allowed to drink any more.  About ten minutes later five security guards surrounded us and handed James his bill, which was surprisingly small for the number of drinks we had.  At this point they let me know that I also was no longer allowed to drink which I guess was just because I was sitting with James and we were the only two men at the table since I had been drinking at a very casual pace.


The security men stared James down and made serious faces while he signed his bill and I’m not sure what their intentions were other than to make things uncomfortable and if that was there intention they must have left unfulfilled because high spirits as lifted as ours are not easily brought down.  Then they let us know that we could stay as long as we pleased, but we could not drink which is a kiss of death not just for that bar, but also for that town.  As far as I can tell there are only two bars in Kutztown and Shorty’s has the advantage of having a large floor plan and seems to draw the most female presence which makes it practically the only place to go in Kutztown and I’m sure that fact is more than partly responsible for the poor attitude and experience provided by the staff.  The only two people that seemed welcoming were the bouncer who was dressed down that checked our ID’s (the head bouncer?) and the girl walking around with shots.  

We exchanged numbers with some of the girls we had been talking to and left for the Pub across the street which wasn’t nearly as fun because of the size and the population, but we managed to still have a good time and end the night strong.  All-in-all I think I had a good time at Shorty’s and would probably go back, but they left me with a bad taste in my mouth that was more a result of the angry staff than the drinks.

Seniors and Juniors Cited for Outstanding Achievement

Nearly 400 students were recognized at the 32nd Honors Convocation in mid-March in Baker Hall. The annual ceremony honors juniors and seniors who have achieved at least a 3.6 GPA or received academic prizes. 

After University Chaplain Lloyd Steffen gave the invocation, University President Alice Gast praised the students for their accomplishments.

“You have earned this…through many hours of hard work, and you can take pride in a job well done,” she said.

Gast said many students also distinguished themselves as campus leaders and contributed to the success of fellow students and the life of the university. She challenged them to use their influence to “make a difference in the culture of Lehigh.

“Make it a priority to see the world from all angles—not just your own familiar vantage points—and urge your fellow students to do the same. I know you are up to this challenge and I know Lehigh will be an even better place for it.”

Provost Patrick Farrell said the honorees shared several traits.

“They are passionate about their studies,” Farrell said. “They are highly motivated to learn, and to apply that knowledge. They care deeply about this university, they are engaged citizens of the world, and they are eager to stand for something bigger than themselves.”
From academic underperformer to invited speaker

Also addressing students and their families were Anne Meltzer, the Herbert J. and Ann L. Siegel Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Paul Brown, dean of the College of Business and Economics; and David Wu, dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science. Each introduced a student speaker.

Ankit Gupta ‘12, an international relations and economics major and Eckhardt Scholar, said he was stunned by the progress he had made at Lehigh.

“Three years ago, I was an academic underperformer who was told I shouldn’t apply to Lehigh because I couldn’t get in, and that I shouldn’t go to Lehigh because I wouldn’t be able to cope,” he said. “Today, I have the honor of speaking in front of you.”

Gupta said caring and committed professors, a depth of course options, and creative extracurricular programs encouraged him to transcend traditional boundaries.

Mark Degenhart ‘11, an economics and finance double major with a minor in international relations, cited “Incredible opportunities….some of which I never thought possible. Lehigh doesn’t simply prepare students to memorize all the pages of a textbook. Lehigh prepares students to write the pages of the next textbook.”

Aaron Taylor ‘12, a computer science and business major, gave ahumorous recounting of his time at Lehigh, surviving cramped quarters, failing heating systems, thousands of ice-encrusted campus steps, and countless hours of library isolation for midterms and finals.

“Lehigh prepared a smorgasbord of academic and professional opportunities for me,” he said. “From consulting in Prague to conducting research in Zambia, I’ve have more than had my fill.”

Prizes and Awards, 2010 – 2011

Alpha Pi Mu Prize*
(Industrial Engineering)

Michael L. Colucci

American Chemical Society Award*
(Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)
Andrew N. Bartinski
Brian E. Diskin

American Institute of Chemists Award*
(Chemistry, Chemical Engineering or Biochemistry)

Thanh G. Ta
Douglas A. Tremblay

American Society of Civil Engineers Prize*
(Civil Engineering)

Timothy D. Brauning

Robert W. Blake Memorial Award
Krittapas Chanchaiworawit

Bethlehem Fabricators Award
Andrew J. Stewart

Nelson Leighton Bond Memorial Prize
Dat T. Hoang
Zahra M. Soonasra

The William H. Chandler Chemistry Prize*
(Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)

Gregory V. Barnett
Nathan A. Bowser
Alicia E. Cutillo
Brian C. Czornyj
Michael J. DiRosato
Ryan A. Kaye

John B. Carson Prize*
(Civil Engineering)

Cassandra M. Schanck

Class of 1904 Scholarship Award*
Krista M. Belick
Meghan K. Bowen
Vaughan S. Brown
Awani Donthireddy
Claude A. Esposito
Elizabeth C. Guzzo
Beth A. Kertz
Evans K. Kosgei
Jennifer M. Lance
Joshua R. Leight
Hilary J. Lewis
Mario N. Paredes
Caroline E. Potock
Erica D. Prosser
Elizabeth M. Spengel
Alexis E. Weiner

Alpha A. Diefenderfer Award*

Lillian D. Kull

Aurie N. Dunlap Prize*
(International Relations)

Stephen A. Buryk

Eta Kappa Nu Prize
Geoffrey G. Groman

Joseph C. Gabuzda Jr., Memorial Award*
(Electrical or Computer Engineering)

Stephen R. Abate
Nicole E. King
Jonathan C. Stumpf
Paul L. Vegetabile

Malcolm J. Gordon Jr., Physics Prize

Christopher Devulder

Bill Hardy Memorial Prize
Alan E. Freeman

George D. Harmon Memorial Award*

Allison L. Prosswimmer
Susan R. Wigodner

David Hellekjaer Memorial Award*
John W. Powell
Steven L. Brown
Timothy R. Buirkle

Joseph C. Hendrzak Memorial Award*
(Military Science)

Erik D. Twombly

Donnel Foster Hewitt Award*
(Earth and Enrivonmental Sciences)

Deanna G. Giustino
Stephanie J. Hunt

Robert C. Hicks Prize*
(Chemical Engineering)

Allison M. Graf

Harold J. Horn Prize
(Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)

Enkhbayasgalan Gantsog
Jonathan C. Stumpf

Institute of Internal Auditors Senior Award*

Richard S. Motschwiller

Institute of Management Accountants Senior Award*

Megan V. Cody

Richard H. Johnson Economics Prize*

Jennifer L. Nagel

Kahn Memorial Award*
(Materials Science and Engineering)

Daniel H. Bechetti, Jr.

Mathematics Faculty Award
(Mathematics or Statistics)

Joseph Z. Eggert
Lindsey M. Smith

Joseph A. Maurer Classics Prize*
Nickolas T. Agathis

Merck Index Award*
(Biochemistry and Chemistry)

Steven R. Ackerman

J. Robert Munford Award*
(Earth and Environmental Sciences)

David E. Seduski

Elizabeth Major Nevius Award
Zahir N. Carrington
Nicole M. Chin
Kristen A. Dalton
Michael T. Doherty
Sarah V. Gerhart
Natalie F. Hojnacki
Adam I. Kirell
Angela C. Marcucci
Justin P. Mendelson
Binay S. Patel
Allison L. Prosswimmer
Inthira Saengprachathanarak
Christopher J. Schoell
Erin M. Tormey
Carolyn L. Von Heill

John Cyril Osborn Award*
(Materials Science and Engineering)

Thomas J. Nizolek

Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Prize*

Lindsay S. Dolan

Phi Sigma Kappa Scholarship Cup
Alpha Gamma Delta

Pi Tau Sigma Prize
(Mechanical Engineering)

Kyle M. Hart

Leonard P. Pool Memorial Prize*
Richard J. Bradley
Andrew G. DiPietro
Benjamin M. Harmer
David E. Gritz

Allen S. Quier Prize*
(Materials Science and Engineering)

George J. Ferko V

John S. Steckbeck Memorial Award*
(Military Science)

Erik D. Twombly

Bradley Stoughton Student Award*
(Materials Science and Engineering)

Michael S. Grimes
Douglas G. Ridyard

Tau Beta Pi Prize
Geoffrey G. Groman

Thornburg Mathematics Prize*

Maxwell B. Anselm
Lisa E. Vasko

Trustees Scholarship Cup
Warren Square D

Harry M. Ullmann Chemistry Prize*
(Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)

Alyssa C. Fritz
Alison M. Jaworski

John R. Wagner Award
(Mechanical Engineering)

Kyle M. Hart

Wall Street Journal Award*
Maxwell A. Copelan

H.R. & Y.B. Wei Prize
(Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics)

Harry S. Paul

William Whigham Jr., Memorial Prize

Geoffrey G. Groman

Elisha P. Wilbur Mathematics Prize

Evan E. Aamodt
Maria C. Ballesteros Gonzales
Geoffrey G. Groman
Ke Xue
Xiaoxi Zhang

Elisha P. Wilbur Scholarship Prize

Stephanie P. Albano
Alexis J. Alu
Annamaria Anselmo
Alexander J. Bourque
Joseph Z. Eggert
Meghan R. Eichner
Holly M. Fuhrman
Jon M. Harrison
Kyle M. Hart
Gina E. Mason
Andrew P. McGlincy
Eric T. Nalisnick
Tyler D. Piede
Lindsey M. Smith
Matthew B. Sumner
Jordan A. Thimot
Aaron M. Wilensky

Theodore B. Wood Prize
(Mechanical Engineering)

Matthew S. Peterson

*recognized in 2010

By: Linda Harbrecht

Posted on: Monday, March 21, 2011

– See more at:

Named to dean’s list at Lehigh University

Friday, September 24, 2010

George J. Ferko, son of George and Gloria Ferko of Palmerton, has been named to the dean’s list for the Spring 2010 semester at Lehigh University, from where he graduated on May 24, 2010, with a bachelor of science degree in material sciences and engineering and a minor in economics.

George has earned a 3.86 grade point average for the semester and was the recipient of the Allen S. Quier Prize for the senior adjudged by the staff of materials science and engineering to have made the most progress in that curriculum.

While at Lehigh University as an undergraduate, George was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity and was involved in a variety of community service.

George performed undergraduate research involving the study of “Complexions” a new concept being applied to interfacial kinetics on the atomic scale, and is continuing his research studies in material science and engineering as a Lehigh University Ph.D. graduate student. George is a 2006 graduate of Palmerton Area High School.

Department of Materials Science Awards

George Ferko and Helen Chan - Allen S. Quier Award

George Ferko and Helen Chan – Allen S. Quier Award

(April 21, 2010) Several student and faculty awards were presented at the annual Student Materials Society Spring Picnic, April 21, 2010, in Whitaker Courtyard. The Student Materials Society is the Lehigh University student chapter of two professional societies,ASM International and The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. The picnic, a longtime tradition, provides the opportunity for students and faculty to mingle in a social setting.See awards / See photos


Bradley Stoughton Student Award
Presented to an outstanding senior student in the Materials Science and Engineering Department
Recipients: Michael S. Grimes and Douglas G. Ridyard

Kahn Memorial Award
Presented to a senior student outstanding in materials science and engineering
Recipient: Daniel H. Bechetti, Jr.

Cyril John Osborn Award
Presented to a senior student who shows outstanding promise of a successful career in materials science and engineering
Recipient: Thomas J. Nizolek

Allen S. Quier Prize
Awarded to a senior student in recognition of outstanding progressive achievement in scholastic work in materials science and engineering
Recipient: George J. Ferko, V

Harmer Prize
Materials Science and Engineering Citizenship Award
Recipient: Anthony P. Ventura

Handwerk Prize
Presented to a student for outstanding achievement in the fields of chemistry, materials science and engineering or earth and environmental sciences
Recipient: Daniel H. Bechetti, Jr. 

George P. Conard II Award
Given to an outstanding graduate student in Materials Science and Engineering
Recipient: Wu Zhou

Gilbert E. Doan ’19 Award
Given by the Materials Science and Engineering senior class to the member of the MS&E faculty who in their judgment has best served them as a mentor in civic, moral, and spiritual dimensions of their education
Recipient: Rick Vinci

Student Daniel H. Bechetti, Jr. received both the Kahn Memorial Award and Handwerk Prize. This year is the fourth time Rick Vinci , associate professor of materials science and engineering, has received the Gilbert E. Doan ’19 Award. Student Michael S. Grimes was unable to attend the picnic to accept his Bradley Stoughton Student Award in person.

Attains dean’s list at Lehigh University


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

George J. Ferko V, a 2006 graduate of Palmerton Area High School, attained the dean’s list with a GPA of 3.82 for the 2009 fall semester at Lehigh University.

He accepted a Ph.D. graduate position with Lehigh University to continue his studies in material science and engineering. His adviser for his Ph.D work will be Professor Martin P. Harmer.

As one of the students, he will be conducing research on the study of “Complexions,” a new concept being applied to interfacial kinetics on the atomic scale. His previous research has involved the study of complexions in the titania (Ti02) and magnesium aluminate spinel (MgA1204) ceramic systems. The topic of his Ph.D thesis will likely be a continuance of this work.

Ferko recently placed third in the undergraduate studies category of the annual American Ceramic Society (ACerS) Ceramographic Competition.



Like the teachers of younger students, says Martin Harmer, college professors often face a challenge motivating their students to study science.

Harmer, a professor of materials science and engineering, has addressed this challenge by taking a cue from his wife, Andrea Harmer, who recently studied sixth-graders who investigated a hazardous waste site in Pennsylvania.

“The idea of energizing students by giving them a real-world research project intrigued me,” said Martin Harmer.

This past spring and fall, Harmer enlisted his students in a venture that has consumed much of his own time in the last few years—the study of grain boundaries, which are the tiny material interfaces that often determine a material’s chemical, electrical and other properties.

In Mat 214: The Processing and Properties of Ceramics, Harmer and Shuailei Ma set up lab projects that required students to investigate problems whose answers were not yet known. Ma, a Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering, is a teaching assistant in the class.

The students responded by winning half a dozen prizes at the MS&T (Materials Science and Technology) 2009 Conference in Pittsburgh, Pa., in October. The prizes were awarded in competitions sponsored by the American Ceramic Society for poster presentations and for use of electron microscopy.

Finding new complexions in titania

Harmer, who directs Lehigh’s Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology (CAMN), assigned the Mat 214 students to explore the existence of grain boundary “complexions” in titania (TiO2), a compound that is used in paints, sunscreens and anti-bacterial soaps.

In 2007, Harmer coined the term “complexions” when he and his former Ph.D. student Shen Dillon identified six complexions, or grain boundaries with distinct rates of grain growth, in the ceramic alumina (Al2O3). Scientists had previously believed there were only two or three different types of grain boundaries in alumina, says Harmer. Harmer and Dillon were able to control the complexions they found by making changes in chemistry and temperature. The discovery, he says, could make it easier for engineers to control the rate of growth at grain boundaries, which play a key role in the creation of ceramic solids from powders.

Last spring, the students in Mat 214 conducted separate investigations to determine how the grain-boundary structure of TiO2 changed when the temperature of firing, the composition of the compound and other variables were altered.

“One group added copper to the titania and the result was huge grain structures,” said Harmer. “Another group found that boron produced a needle-like structure. A third group found that zinc also affected the structure of the titania. The students ended up discovering things that I didn’t know.

“This reminded me of a saying I heard once about the three phases of learning that faculty members go through,” said Harmer. “During the first stage you learn from your graduate adviser. During the second you learn from your academic colleagues. During the third, you learn from your students.

“I’m at stage three.”

Prizes for posters and presentations

After obtaining their lab results, the students worked with Harmer and Ma to prepare posters for the MS&T conference. The following students received prizes:

Ma and Wu Zhou, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering, won first place in the TEM (transmission electron microscopy) category in the ACerS Ceramographic Competition for a poster titled “Why is it so colorful?” Faculty advisers for the project were Harmer; Christopher Kiely, professor of materials science and engineering; and Hugo Caram, professor of chemical engineering.
Ma and Zhou also won second place in the Combined Techniques category in the ACerS Ceramographic Competition for a poster titled “Abnormal Grain Growth in Yttria” with Harmer, Kiely and Caram as faculty advisers.
Taek Bo Kim, a summer student in Lehigh’s materials science and engineering department who is enrolled at Imperial College in London, won first place in the undergraduate studies category in the ACerS Ceramographic Competition for a poster titled “An Unexpected Microstructure.” Kim’s advisers were Profs. Helen Chan and Rick Vinci in the materials science and engineering department, and Sreya Dutta, a postdoctoral research scientist in the department.
George Ferko ’10 won third place in the same category for a poster titled “Controlling Grain Morphology in Titania Viewed in 3-D.” Ferko was advised by Ma and Harmer.
Stephanie Bojarski ’10 won an honorable mention in the ACerS undergraduate student poster contest for a poster titled “Effect of Doping Element in TiO2 Grain Boundary Complexions.” Bojarski’s advisers were Ma and Harmer. Bojarski helped to coordinate Lehigh’s entry in the ACerS undergraduate poster contest.
Abigail Lawrence ’10 advanced as far as the semifinal round in the Material Advantage Student Speaking Contest. Lawrence gave a presentation titled “The Effect of Copper, Boron and Zinc Doping on Microstructure Development in Sintered TiO2.”

Ferko, Bojarski and Lawrence are all materials science and engineering majors.

Real-world inspiration

In a related matter, two of Ma’s posters have been published as the back cover of the monthly Journal of the American Ceramic Society. Huikai Cheng, who earned a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Lehigh and is now a postdoctoral researcher here, has had one poster published as the journal’s back cover.

The February 2010 issue of the journal will feature as its lead article a lecture that Harmer gave last year when he received the Robert B. Sosman Award from the American Ceramic Society. The lecture traced developments in ceramics research and in the importance of electron microscopy and other observational techniques to improving the understanding of ceramics.

Andrea Harmer was inspired to use real-world problems to motivate students to study science after she conducted research into a class of sixth-graders who investigated the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) Superfund Site in Palmerton, Pa. Harmer, an assistant professor of library science and instructional technology at Kutztown University, is also director of web-based instruction with Lehigh’s CAMN.

Harmer asked the sixth-graders what they had gained from the opportunity to create, contribute, collaborate and communicate outside the classroom on cutting-edge topics. She later asked the same questions of the Lehigh students in Mat 214. She compared both sets of student responses and presented the results at the Materials Research Society conference earlier this month (December 2009). The results will be published next year.

Photo by Animesh Kundu

By: Kurt Pfitzer
Posted on: Thursday, December 17, 2009
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