Sammy Tin started college as a mechanical engineering major. During an intro to materials course in his sophomore year, his professor made a joke that, with a last name straight from the periodic table, Tin would make a great metallurgist or materials scientist. It turns out, the professor was right.
After learning about the range of jobs available to MSE graduates -- from Silicon Valley to aerospace and automotive companies, Tin changed his major, going on to earn a PhD in materials science and engineering from the University of Michigan. Now, he is the inaugural Patrick R. Taylor Endowed Chair of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Arizona. MSE alum Dylan Taylor and his wife, Gabrielle, made a $1 million gift to establish the chair, in honor of Dylan’s father.
"What brought me to the University of Arizona was basically the people," he said. “The leaders in the college have a great vision for the future, and there's tremendous potential here in the College of Engineering,” he said. “Patrick R. Taylor is one of the pioneers of extractive metallurgy, and I hope I can honor the legacy of both Patrick Taylor and his son, Dylan Taylor.”
Tin worked for 15 years at the Illinois Institute of Technology, most recently as the Charles and Lee Finkl Chair of Materials Engineering and the director of the Thermal Processing Technology Center. He helped create two new graduate degree programs in advanced manufacturing and nurtured industry partnerships that led to $3 million in donations of laboratory equipment.
Growing Student Population, Aligning Research Priorities
Increasing understanding of how materials scientists and engineers contribute to technological innovation is among Tin’s top priorities. He is here to support the department’s mission of training engineers who design and create unique new materials with broad applications. He also hopes to continue growing the MSE Department. Tin understands that many students don't realize what opportunities await them, and he knows firsthand that the job demand is there.
“At Illinois Tech, there were tons of potential employers every spring looking for MSE grads,” he said. “I had so many calls that I couldn't find enough kids to place. So, I'm hoping to make students aware of the tremendous career prospects.”
He also aims to further align the research priorities of the department with those of the college, including in areas such as microelectronics processing, advanced manufacturing, quantum computing, flexible electronics and hypersonic vehicles.
"Materials make the impossible possible," he said. "Every engineering project relies on a material with certain attributes to function properly.”
Materials play a role in every other discipline within the college, reiterated David W. Hahn, Craig M. Berge Dean of the College of Engineering.
“Our MSE department is on an upward trajectory,” he said. “Sammy’s wealth of experience and enthusiasm make him the perfect person to grow the size and scope of the department."