Alfred University News

Emeritus professor of ceramic engineering William Carty to deliver McMahon Lecture

William Carty
William Carty

William Carty, emeritus professor of ceramic engineering in the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, will deliver the John F. McMahon Memorial Lecture at 11:20 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, in Holmes Auditorium, Harder Hall, on the Alfred University campus.


ALFRED, NY – William Carty, emeritus professor of ceramic engineering in the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, will deliver the John F. McMahon Memorial Lecture at 11:20 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, in Holmes Auditorium, Harder Hall, on the Alfred University campus.

Carty enjoyed a distinguished 27-year teaching career at Alfred University before retiring in 2020. His lecture is titled “It Starts with Ceramic Processing (‘Think like a particle’).”

“Ceramics are, in many respects, the last manufacturing systems that start with a raw material and, at the other end of the factory, exit as a finished product.  Few ceramic materials or components can be purchased from a catalog, such as steel nuts and bolts, for example.  If a ceramic component is required, the part must be specifically designed and fabricated,” Carty says in his lecture abstract.

“Ceramic manufacturers often first contribute to the design, and then must control the raw material processing, forming, sintering, and finishing operations to produce the finished component.  For the ceramic engineer, there are typically three options when confronted with a defined need for material and performance properties:  (1) identify a suitable material; (2) modify an existing material to meet the specified requirements; or (3) invent a new ceramic material.”

The John F. McMahon Memorial Lecture Award is presented annually to an outstanding ceramic engineer. The award was created by alumni in honor of the late John F. McMahon, an alumnus, a professor and finally, dean of what is now the Inamori School of Engineering.

Carty received the B.S. (1985) and M.S. (1987), both in ceramic engineering, from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology), and a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Washington (Seattle, 1992). He held a one-year post-doctoral position at Koninklijke/Shell-Laboratorium in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, before joining the faculty at Alfred University in 1993. He achieved the rank of professor in 2002 and was appointed the John F. McMahon Professor of Ceramic Engineering in 2010. He was appointed chair of Ceramic Engineering in 2008 and chair of Glass Engineering Science in 2010, and served in those roles until 2019. Carty retired from teaching last December, but continues to conduct research and advise graduate students.

He was recognized for the quality of his teaching, receiving 11 teaching awards, including the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006).  He has advised 77 (plus six current) graduate student theses (nine Ph.D., plus three current, and 68 M.S., plus three current) and 172 undergraduate theses (plus three current), and was awarded the Alfred University Research Mentor Award in 2015.  He was named a NYSTAR Distinguished Professor in 2002 and received the SUNY Research and Scholarship Award in 2005.

Since he joined the faculty in the New York State College of Ceramics, Carty has enjoyed a strong connection with the Ceramic Art program in the School of Art and Design, and particularly with John Gill, with whom he taught the graduate seminar course “Problem Solving for Artists.”  Over the years he has been a frequent contributor to the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) and teaches “Ceramic Science for the Artist” at sessions of Alfred University’s Summer School and at several other locations. 

Carty is an active member of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) and was elevated to Fellow in 2000 and awarded the Karl Schwartzwalder-Professional Achievement in Ceramic Engineering Award in 2002.  In 2015 he started the Manufacturing Division of ACerS and served as the first division chair, and currently serves as Counselor and as division representative to the Fellows Panel. 

From 1995-2005, Carty was the director of the Whiteware Research Center from 1995 to 2005, an industry-university consortium comprised of dinnerware, electrical insulator, and sanitaryware manufacturers.  His current research interests are ceramic processing and microstructural evolution (in both traditional and advanced ceramic materials); failure analysis of ceramic materials (fractography, stress analysis, etc.); the development of a unified approach to explain and control ceramic forming processes; tailoring microstructures and porosity for specific applications; the connection between strength and processing; glass batch reactions and melting; the development of high-performance glasses; and the refinement of sustainable ceramic manufacturing processes (i.e., energy efficient and environmentally-sound). 

Carty has authored or co-authored over 160 publications; holds 13 patents (plus six patents pending) and is an active consultant to the ceramic industry.