Life is in the Details
Date: December 31, 2004
Whoever said “life is in the details” must have been talking about Boon Chai Ng, associate professor of engineering at Andrews University. While most of us struggle to make sense of what we can see with the naked eye, Ng likes to spend his time looking at the world through the lens of an electron microscope.
Ng’s work with the small things in life has produced research that could greatly benefit the world of space aeronautics. As part of his doctoral work at Michigan State University, where he will complete a philosophy of science degree in materials science in June 2005, Ng has developed a way to predict the paths of cracks in gamma-titanium aluminide (TiAl) alloys.
Gamma-TiAl alloys are being looked at as a potential replacement for current alloys used in the automotive and aeronautics fields due to their light weight, strength, and ability to withstand high temperatures. However, they have not yet been put into use due to their low level of toughness, which is associated with the ability to resist cracks. Through his study of gamma-TiAl alloys, which is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Ng has discovered a way to predict the propagation of cracks. This breakthrough leads to a greater understanding of gamma-TiAl alloys and opens the door for other researchers to now find ways to stop/prevent cracks from forming. The use of gamma-TiAl alloys will decrease the weight of aircraft significantly, enabling them to fly faster and reach greater heights. The understanding of the formation of cracks will also lead to the creation of a safer machine.
Ng’s work has resulted in more than a dozen publications in technical journals such as Metallurgrical and Materials Transactions, Ultramicroscopy, Intermetallics, and Materials Science and Engineering. Before joining the AU faculty in 2002, Ng worked as an intern for General Motors in their research and development center.
Ng received a MS in Materials Science from Michigan State University in 1997 and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Western Michigan University in 1994. Ng also taught for eight years as a training officer for the Vocational and Industrial Training Board in his native country, Singapore, before moving to the US in 1990.