Clare Rimnac receives ASM Cleveland's 2022 Technical Educator Award

When Clare Rimnac was a sophomore studying metallurgy at Carnegie Mellon University, the department encouraged all students to join the American Society for Metals, now known as ASM International. Rimnac immediately joined the society and began attending their meetings. As her career progressed, she periodically gave presentations at ASM meetings and reviewed chapters for the society’s books.  In fact, her first ever invited talk was to the Buffalo Chapter of ASM. 

"ASM is in my DNA and has been pivotal to my career,” said Rimnac, who was named an ASM Fellow in 2020. “As my first technical society, it helped me to understand the importance of being part of a professional organization.”

After more than four decades of involvement, Rimnac was presented with the 2022 Technical Educator Award by ASM International’s Cleveland chapter at the chapter’s May 9 awards dinner. The award honors her “dedicated and creative teaching in Engineering Materials, Design, and Musculoskeletal Biomechanics.” Rimnac, who will be transitioning to Emeritus status on June 30, was invited to give a talk at the dinner, but was not expecting to win the award. “I was thrilled and surprised to receive this award,” she said.

"In her role as Distinguished University Professor and the Wilbert J. Austin Professor of Engineering in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, her research and accomplishments are providing understanding coupling materials science and biomechanics in their application to improving materials selection and joint designs to extend joint life and quality of life for patients,” said John Pickens, Chairman of the ASM International Cleveland Chapter, and Robert Vigneulle, Chairman of the Awards Committee, in a statement.

The awards dinner was Rimnac’s first time attending an event at the ASM International  headquarters in Materials Park, which features the world’s largest open-air geodesic dome and which she described as “a very cool place to visit.” When she was preparing to move to Cleveland in 1996 to start her position at Case Western Reserve University, an acquaintance told her to “find out if (the dome) actually exists.” Shortly after her arrival in Cleveland, Rimnac and her young daughter were driving to Punderson State Park when she saw a sign for the headquarters. She and her daughter immediately made a detour to see the dome in person.

Though she took photos of the dome on that trip with her daughter, Rimnac had not been inside ASM International Headquarters until the awards dinner. The buildings are notable for their mid-century modern architecture (designed by Terence Kelly, who was awarded the 1968 Cleveland Arts Prize for Architecture).  The entire complex is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  She was fascinated by the interior of the building, which “makes use of every metal and metal alloy you can think of (in its structures), from titanium to bronze to copper to aluminum to stainless steel.”

The event at the dome consisted of a reception, the dinner, awards presentations and Rimnac’s presentation, which focused on failure analysis approaches to understand the performance and durability of artificial hip and knee replacements. Rimnac pointed out that CWRU was “well-represented” at the dinner and that numerous students and faculty were in attendance.

Although Rimnac’s primary appointment at CWRU is in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, she considers herself a “materials scientist and metallurgist at heart.” She holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and has taught classes that have drawn a large number of Materials students, including EMSE/EMAE 372: Structural Materials by Design and EMAE 480: Fatigue of Materials. She has also served on thesis and dissertation committees for Materials students and conducted research with faculty members in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, including John Lewandowski, whom she has known since their undergraduate studies at Carnegie Mellon University.

A Distinguished University Professor, Rimnac also holds secondary appointments in the Department of Orthopedics, Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering.

After Rimnac takes Emeritus status, she plans to stay active at CWRU. Though she will no longer be teaching, she will continue advising the Ph.D. and M.S. students that she is currently working with and engaging with faculty collaborators on research topics of mutual interest.