Nee completes senior project, headed to Howmet Aerospace


Until they began work on their senior project, Addressing Mechanical Failure in Oxygen Transport Ceramics with Layered Porous-Dense-Porous Formulations, Connor Nee was unaware of all the capabilities of ceramics, including that they could help with the creation of hydrogen fuel. “Learning that such cool materials existed really fueled my passion to learn all about materials for extreme and highly specialty applications,” said Nee.

Working on their project with Associate Professor Mark De Guire, Nee tested the feasibility of creating layered porous-dense-porous ceramic pellets of perovskites within the composition field of (La,Sr)(Co,Cr,Fe,Mg)O, special ceramics which facilitate transportation of oxygen (also known as Oxygen Transport Materials or OTM) across them. These materials often serve as Mixed Electronic and Ionic Conductors or MEIC. Such materials often fail under the high oxygen gradients seen in the conditions used by the oil and gas industry for the conversion of methane into syngas (H2 and CO). When porous layers flanking a central dense layer are introduced, those layers have the potential to reduce failure from the chemical expansion of the material due to high oxygen gradients. The perovskites Nee worked with, which were within the composition field of (La,Sr)(Co,Cr,Fe,Mg)O, were capable of both electronic and ionic conduction, allowing them to transport oxygen without using external inputs.

During their undergraduate career, Nee interned at Howmet Aerospace, which peaked their passion for engineering materials for flight and for metallurgy. Those internships led to Howmet offering Nee a position as a Metallurgist on the Quality Assurance team, which they will start in January. Their duties will include ensuring the production of quality forged aluminum parts by monitoring results from mechanically tested materials, diagnosing part production issues and altering the production process to ensure the consistent, systematic creation of quality parts.

Looking back on their undergraduate career, Nee is proud of leaving an impact on their fellow students. They served as one of the Case School of Engineering’s peer advisors during the 2020-21 academic year and held numerous leadership positions in their fraternity, Lambda Chi, including president, vice president, social chair, secretary and the Order of Omega. They praised De Guire, also their academic advisor, for not only being a “fantastic academic advisor,” but also encouraging them to look for new opportunities and supporting their research interests.

Nee hopes to spend most of their engineering career doing technical work. “I'd like to spend most of my young career contributing the creation of aircraft and the support of the aerospace industry,” they said.