Dr. Gregory E. Hilmas, a ceramic engineer and leading expert in methods to create more durable, next-generation materials, has been named chair of materials science and engineering at Missouri S&T.
The Curators’ Distinguished Professor of ceramic engineering has served as interim department chair since July 2017. He succeeds Dr. Matthew J. O’Keefe, executive director of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi.
“Greg is one of our best-known and most productive researchers on campus, whose accolades include receiving an R&D 100 award from Research and Development magazine — an honor referred to as the ‘Oscars of Invention’ and the ‘Pulitzer Prize of Technology,’” says Dr. Richard Wlezien, S&T vice provost and dean of the College of Engineering and Computing. “And he’s equally accomplished in the classroom, receiving numerous outstanding teaching awards in a department known for its commitment to student learning.”
A Missouri S&T faculty member for 20 years, Hilmas received the 2002 R&D award, along with colleagues from the University of Michigan and the private company Advanced Ceramics Research Inc., for creating fibrous, monolithic ceramics that are better able to resist damage than most ceramic materials.
Practical applications of this material include cutting tool inserts for precision metal machining, drill bit inserts for oil and gas drilling, and high-temperature applications such as jet engine components, hot gas valves, nozzles and thrusters.
He’s additionally known, along with colleague Dr. William G. Fahrenholtz, also a Curators’ Distinguished Professor of ceramic engineering and director of the Materials Research Center, for work in the field of ultra-high-temperature ceramics.
Such material, which is similar in concept to those used in space shuttle tiles, can withstand temperatures up to 3,000 degrees Celsius and could be employed to keep hypersonic vehicles from burning up as they cruise at extremely high altitudes over longer periods of time than shuttles or Apollo-style capsules.
“Our dedicated faculty, staff and students are at the core of what I believe to be one of the country’s top materials science and engineering programs, and I look forward to helping to strengthen that legacy,” Hilmas says.
“From the Materials Research Center to the Kent D. Peaslee Steel Manufacturing Research Center, we plan to redouble our efforts to advance the discipline’s body of knowledge while working closely with industry partners,” he adds. “We also remain committed to the hands-on education, with an emphasis on multiple required labs, that have successfully prepared our undergraduate and graduate alumni for life after S&T.”
Hilmas received his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1986, a master’s degree in ceramic engineering from The Ohio State University in 1989 and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from the University of Michigan in 1993. He worked in the private sector for several years before joining S&T in 1998.
He has published more than 200 scholarly articles and has been issued 11 patents and spent 10 years as the department’s associate chair for graduate studies. As a researcher, Hilmas has been awarded more than $20 million in contracts from over 20 different funding agencies or private companies. He’s a fellow of the American Ceramic Society and past president of the board of directors of Keramos, the national professional fraternity for ceramic engineering.
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