Matthew Pukansky receives CAA Wallace Prize

Matthew Pukansky 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.

Pukansky, who graduated from Case Western Reserve University in January 2022 with his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, worked with Professor Frank Ernst, SCSAM Engineer John Kim and Matthew Gallagher of Swagelok on his senior project, “Understanding Corrosion Resistance Variations of Electropolished and Passivation-Only AISI 316L Austenitic Stainless Steel.” He used ToF-SIMS and XPS to determine alternate ways of preparing stainless steel surfaces to reduce time-intensity and resource intensity. “I went from having almost no research experience to running my own investigation, with help, in a manner that produced tangible and meaningful results,” said Pukansky, who was “extremely happy” with the results of the project. He appreciated learning different surface analysis techniques and conducting literary analysis.

Looking back at his undergraduate years, Pukansky is most proud of this project. “I was put in an opportunity where I was responsible for most of the project progressing, and I was lucky to have things go smoothly enough for me to put out a well-formulated and complete senior project,” he said. He credits Ernst, as well as Associate Professors Jennifer Carter and Mark De Guire, for helping him through “tough engineering and life decisions” during his undergraduate career.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pa., Pukansky was drawn to the materials field because of his interest in photovoltaic efficiency improvements. Now, he is primarily interested in engineering and sustainability for “a cleaner future.” “Whether in the form of process resource reduction, development of materials with increased performance life, or new energy storage materials or devices, using science to move towards a healthier relationship with our planet always interests me,” he said.

Currently, Pukansky is working as a metallurgist at Consolidated Precision Products, where he determines that the microstructure of single-crystal nickel investment castings meet the quality standards to be used in gas turbines and engines. “CWRU helped me prepare for this role by providing me exposure to many different materials and the importance of their microstructure in relation to desired properties,” he said. “I also gained an ability to learn new skills and new materials quickly and have transferred this to my job now.”

"My main goal as an engineer is to help people,” said Pukansky. “Whether that's working on sustainable technologies, educating young engineers, or even going another route such as law while utilizing my engineering background, I want to make a tangible, positive difference in the world. I don't know where the world is going to take me, but I'm going to keep my legs moving and continue to look for opportunities that allow me to move into a position where I can make a difference.”