Alfred University News

Alfred University ceramic engineering student earns scholarship from The Refractories Institute

Sarah Lutkins, a senior ceramic engineering major at Alfred University, is the recipient of a scholarship from The Refractories Institute (TRI), which awards scholarships annually to students enrolled in a degree program who have expressed interest in refractory manufacturing through their coursework and related activities.

TRI Scholarships are awarded to a limited number of students based on academic merit and the recipients’ demonstrated experience and interest in the field of refractories.

Lutkins, a resident of Union Springs, NY, was an intern at Monofrax LLC, Falconer, NY, during the summer of 2022.

“I performed time studies to measure efficiencies during production, assisted with inspection of materials, and characterized both refractory material and production waste,” she explained. “The most valuable experience with working at Monofrax was being exposed to manufacturing and being able to watch the fused-cast refractories being poured.”

Lutkins said she applied for the scholarship at the urging of John Simmins, director of Alfred University’s Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT)

“Dr. Simmins remembered my experience with refractories and presented me this scholarship opportunity about a week before the deadline,” recalled Lutkins. “I rushed to turn in my application, not thinking I would actually win, but I was very happily surprised when I was contacted earlier this summer with the information that I was a recipient!”

Refractories are ceramic materials, used in manufacturing processes, which retain strength and form at high temperatures. They are often used in furnace linings for elevated temperature materials processing and other applications in which thermomechanical properties are critical. The Refractories Institute has a long tradition of providing support and services to manufacturers of refractory materials and products and suppliers of raw materials, equipment, and services to the refractories industry.

Lutkins admits she didn’t know much about refractories prior to her internship at Monofrax.

“I learned a lot during that summer as it was my first exposure to refractories and manufacturing,” she said. Over this past summer, Lutkins worked in CMC (ceramics matrix composites) development at Pratt and Whitney, East Hartford, CT. “I have taken an interest to both refractories and CMC development which leads to a difficult decision of what I will do after graduation in the spring.”