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Rigney opens international conference

David RigneyEarlier this year, Dave Rigney, professor emeritus of materials science and engineering, presented the conference-opening invited talk at the 21st International Conference on the Wear of Materials, held in Long Beach, Calif.  The presentation was part of a symposium in honor of Ken Ludema, the principal organizer of the first Wear of Materials conference held 40 years ago.  Rigney’s first paper in tribology was presented at that earlier conference.  

Rigney’s talk addressed “Modeling and the Real World.”

“The planners of the inaugural International Conference on the Wear Of Materials in 1977, led by Ken Ludema, had no idea that it would become a successful conference series thriving for decades,” Rigney said. “The continuing success of what they started is related to their recognition that tribology is inherently an interdisciplinary field.”

Rigney noted that Ludema and his colleagues chose a conference name “consistent with their belief that progress in understanding and controlling wear requires a strong component of materials science and engineering, which is itself interdisciplinary.” 

As the Wear of Materials conferences evolved, Ludema became what Rigney recalls as “a friendly gadfly, regularly urging us to develop and apply improved models of wear. He was not content with over-simplified but widely used wear models.” 

Ludema’s example has led Rigney and his colleagues to ask “Has our tribology community responded sufficiently? Have we welcomed new ideas, new approaches and new techniques? What has improved since 1977?  Most of us will recognize that increased use of computers has been dramatic. This has enabled improved data monitoring and analysis, improved imaging and structural and chemical characterization of our specimens, and more widespread use of computer models, e.g., those involving Monte Carlo, molecular dynamics or ab initio methods.”

Rigney appreciates these “very helpful supplements to traditional analytic models. They are welcome additions to the toolkit we have available when we apply the scientific method in tribology. Experimental observations help guide us to improved models, and those models can in turn suggest what to look for in the laboratory and what to try in tribological applications.”


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