Alexander Lasala receives CAA Wallace Prize


Alexander Lasala was awarded the 2022 John F. Wallace Prize, which is awarded annually by the Case Alumni Association to students who best embody the late Professor John Wallace's spirit and dedication toward metallurgical engineering and metal casting.

When Lasala arrived at Case Western Reserve University in 2018, he planned to major in chemical engineering and had not heard of the field of materials science and engineering. However, he took a SAGES course with Professor James McGuffin-Cawley shortly after arriving on campus, who introduced him to the materials field. “Materials science has become a personal favorite as it offers a unique lens to view the world around oneself,” said Lasala. “Seeing the world around me with new eyes has been one of the greatest boons of studying in this field, and the root of my passion for science and engineering from a young age. I am equally in love with the greatest bridge to the smallest nanomachine.”

For his senior project, "Enamel Coatings in Contact with Food and Water: Steps towards an updated ASTM standard," Lasala worked with fellow senior Queen Hassan, Associate Professor Mark De Guire and engineers from Ferro. “There is currently a mismatch between the US and EU standard for food safety in enameled articles,” Lasala said of his project. “The EU standard, ISO 4531, has a number of elements not present in the US ASTM C782 (and the corresponding federal limits) which may be significant to both consumer health and the enamel production pipeline, due to the presence of these elements in the frit used to enamel the articles in question (for both aesthetic and mechanical purposes). Additionally, the reproducibility of ISO 4531 has been brought into question due to the low limits it imposes on some elements.” He particularly enjoyed understanding the production line for enameled articles and learning about standards and analysis methods.

Lasala praised De Guire not only for his mentorship during the senior project, but for “dedication to teaching that has produced some of the most well-organized, understandable, yet demanding content I have had the privilege of being instructed upon.”

During his time at CWRU, Lasala built a coal-fired forge in his backyard to work steel and iron and melt process aluminum, drawing on “the spirit of Professor Wallace and his legacy as a metallurgist.”

Looking back at his undergraduate years, during which he also minored in German, Lasala is thankful he was able to “bring a smile to those around me.” He thanked his friends in the department for “both for dealing with my incessant shenanigans and for displaying righteous character and studious focus.”

After he graduates in May with his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, Lasala hopes to become a nuclear officer in the United States Navy, as well as to “broaden my perspectives to many different fields for a well-rounded understanding of how the world around me works.”