Department's first female graduate elected ASM president

Diana Essock, third from left, in a lab during her time at CWRU

Diana Essock, the first woman undergraduate from the Materials Science and Engineering department at CWRU, was recently elected president of ASM International, the world’s largest association of materials engineers and scientists.

Essock, who originally planned to major in astronomy, was introduced to the field of materials science the summer between her freshman and sophomore years through an NSF funded summer program in the Metallurgy and Material Science Engineering Department at CWRU.  One of her roommates, who was studying polymer science, saw an advertisement for this program in the materials building and suggested Essock apply for it.

Essock then spent the summer analyzing lunar rocks and lunar glass with Professor Arthur Heuer and Professor Al Cooper.  “This was very fascinating, not many people had seen, much less worked with, lunar rocks and lunar glass,” said Essock.  During that summer, Heuer encouraged her to consider becoming a materials engineer.  “He was so supportive and encouraging throughout my whole career at CWRU,” said Essock.

While Essock was the first female undergraduate in the materials department, she never gave that much thought.  “When I was an undergrad, we had rather small graduating classes of undergraduate students, usually only five or six per year,” she said.  “I had a good group of people I was very friendly with in the department.”

It was one of Essock’s courses at CWRU that served as a gateway to her graduate studies at Ohio State University.  The textbook in her course on corrosion was written by Ohio State Professor Mars Fontana.  When Essock worked a summer job at Battelle in Columbus, she told the engineers there how much she enjoyed that course and textbook.  The engineers then introduced her to Fontana, who recruited her for Ohio State’s graduate program.

It wasn’t only her science courses that shaped Essock’s career.  Her minor concentration at CWRU was cultural anthropology, something she was always interested in.  Her cultural anthropology classes were very useful for her during her time as Director of New Technology at Foseco Metallurgical, Inc.  During her time at Foseco, she traveled internationally and interacted with people from many different cultures from all over the world.  She identified new technologies and contracted research projects at universities, research centers and companies worldwide.

After receiving an EMBA, Essock has worked with technically oriented companies on new product development and marketing, and now consults through her own business, Metamark, Inc.

Essock, the third woman to be elected ASM president, has volunteered with the organization for more than 40 years.  She has been an active volunteer both with her Cleveland Chapter and at the International level.  During her term on the ASM Board of Trustees, she co-sponsored their establishment of the Women in Materials Engineering committee to meet the needs of women in ASM, something she is particularly proud of.  This past year as ASM Vice President, she brought forth and gained approval from the Board on a proposal to expand the committee’s initiative and establish the IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Awareness) committee which seeks to reach out to all underrepresented groups in ASM.  She is a past recipient of ASM’s Alan Ray Putnam award, given annually to recognize the exemplary efforts of one volunteer to further the Society’s objectives and goals.  In recognition for her technical contributions to the materials field, she was named a Fellow of ASM International in 2007.  

Essock remains connected to CWRU as well, frequently coming back to speak to students about her career in industry and what they can do in their careers.  “Once you graduate, you can work in a whole variety of research and production fields.  Materials engineers are needed throughout a wide range of industries,” she said.