Armen Kvryan was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a minor in materials engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He moved to Boise during the Summer of 2014 to pursue a Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering.
As an undergraduate at Cal Poly, Armen originally studied music theory with the intent to become a teacher. In need of an elective to fulfill degree requirements, Armen enrolled in a general chemistry course. He was captivated by how molecules can rearrange themselves and, in the process, change their own properties. When molecules and atoms rearrange or are exposed to different environments like air, water, and heat, their structures alter along with their capabilities. Armen decided that his growing interest in chemical engineering was greater than his interest in music theory so he changed his major. As a chemical engineering undergraduate, Armen had the great opportunity to conduct several years of corrosion research. Corrosion involves the wearing down of materials over time due to environmental elements like air, water, and heat, which is exactly what piqued Armen’s interest during his first general chemistry course.
Armen was sure he wanted to continue his education by obtaining a graduate degree. His advisor, Dr. Vilupanur Ravi, chair of the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at Cal Poly, Pomona mentioned that Boise State University has a strong program in corrosion research. Based on Dr. Ravi’s input, Armen applied for admission to the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering. He joined Dr. Mike Hurley’s research group in Fall 2014 to further his knowledge about corrosion. He immediately felt welcomed into a supportive program.
Corrosion Research – Helping to Rebuild America
Armen’s research is focused on assessing the corrosion behavior of aerospace bearing steels. He uses electrochemistry to accelerate the corrosion process so he can observe how materials respond to induced corrosion. The acceleration process allows Armen to quickly and efficiently gain a better understanding of how materials react. He also studies the effects of heat on the corrosion behavior of martensitic stainless steel. He studies steels of the same composition that have undergone different heat treatments to see how heat affects corrosion behavior and why. This knowledge may lead to new methods for reducing or eliminating corrosive damage in new and existing structures.
Armen plans to continue researching corrosion to help rebuild infrastructure in America. The U.S. Department of Transportation states that the effects of corrosion cost the United States more than $300 billion annually. The cost of maintaining infrastructure increases every year and must be mitigated. New developments in corrosion research can help reduce costs significantly. While on an internship at SpaceX, Armen was introduced to the complexities of how scientific research can influence governmental policies. These collaborations can facilitate new policies regarding the use of new and improved materials that stand the test of time and, in turn, cost less to maintain. Armen envisions a career in which he can strengthen partnerships between scientists and government entities.
Internships – Paving the Way to a Great Career
Armen recently participated in a summer internship at SpaceX, a private company that designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. The company was founded in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. Most of Armen’s work involved researching the re-usability of rockets after they have been in contact with salt water. This is all Armen can explain about his internship because research conducted at SpaceX is confidential! He can reveal that one of the most appealing aspects of the internship at SpaceX was the opportunity to experience, first-hand, how scientists and government officials collaborate to reach common goals.
Recognizing the value of internships, Armen sought a second opportunity at NASA. He spent this great summer experience testing coatings for corrosion resistance. He was also responsible for initiating and monitoring stress-corrosion cracking studies for materials used in aerospace applications.
These internships allowed Armen the opportunity to work in both private industry and a government agency. “Experiencing how research varies in academia, private industry, and government agencies was eye-opening,” says Armen, who is now well-prepared to enter the workforce. He recommends that all students participate in at least one internship for professional growth and development.
Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering – Preparing Graduates for a Bright Future
Armen continues to grow intellectually and academically as a graduate student. The daily interactions he has with the helpful staff, faculty, and fellow students have enabled him to become an effective engineer. His research has led to some great hands-on career experience and Armen is well equipped to make a positive difference in the workforce.
Armen recommends that students dedicate themselves to their chosen field of study. Immersing into a research group, professional societies, and club activities allows students to learn more about materials science and engineering and the multifaceted career opportunities that are available.