Jackson Smith receives Shurter Prize


Jackson Smith, a senior in Case Western Reserve University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, was recently awarded the Robert L. Shurter Prize, which is awarded to a junior or senior for outstanding achievement and leadership in extracurricular activities.

Currently, Smith serves as secretary of the Undergraduate Materials Society, the department’s academic and social organization. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020, Smith was UMS president and was determined to continue UMS activities, despite the fact that students were now all in different places. “We were able to host virtual game nights, send out holiday gifts, and have virtual get togethers just to see how everyone was doing,” she said. “I really valued being able to still talk to my friends even when we couldn’t physically see each other.”

During the 2021-22 academic year, Smith started her BS/MS studies. The foundation of those studies is her senior project, Mechanical Characterization of Additively Manufactured In-Situ Alloyed GRCop-42. This project has helped her dive into her main research interests, additive manufacturing and characterization of materials. “I’m most interested in learning how to fully utilize different characterization techniques to analyze different materials,” she said.

So far, the highlight of Smith’s senior project has been getting trained to use the scanning electron microscopes in CWRU’s Swagelok Center for Surface Analysis for Materials. “I have wanted to learn more about microscopy since I was a freshman and did not really get the chance to do any microscopy until now due to COVID-19,” she said. She has also been trained on the Keyence microscope.

In Spring 2021, Smith interned at Nikon Research Corporation of America, and her internship was so successful that Nikon offered her a job after graduation and the opportunity to continue as a consultant after she returned to CWRU. Smith has worked with Nikon to determine types of mechanical testing and microscopy they should use to learn more about their additive manufacturing samples. She also helps with interpreting samples from metallurgy labs and finding literature to guide projects.

Smith’s internship created motivation for her to take classes during her BS/MS studies that will help her learn more about other disciplines of engineering. “After going on my co-op at Nikon I really realized how important it is to be interdisciplinary in engineering,” she said. “This has guided my choices in which classes to take and trying to learn more about mechanical engineering and data science. I of course can not be an expert in every field but understanding things like CAD, modeling, data visualization, and coding has helped me feel more confident in my abilities as an engineer.”

Outside the materials department, Smith has been a member of CWRU’s rowing team since her freshman year and taken on a leadership role every year. As a freshman, she was the apparel chair and ordered the team’s uniforms and spirit wear. Her sophomore year, she served as equipment chair and was responsible for keeping the boats in good condition. She then took on the responsibility of alumni chair as a junior, planning the team’s alumni event and keeping track of team alumni. Additionally, she has served as a mentor to new team members every year.