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Mechanical Engineering's Dr. Steven Van Sciver awarded the prestigious Samuel C. Collins Award

Dr. Steven Van Sciver, Mechanical Engineering

In 1965, Dr. Samuel C. Collins of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received an award named in his honor. The award was established and presented by the Cryogenic Engineering Conference--a preeminent event in the field of cryogenics (the study of the production and behavior of materials at very low temperature) —to honor Samuel C. Collins' accomplishments in the field. It has since been awarded only seventeen times to scholars of cryogenics who have greatly influenced the field, and the latest awardee is the Mechanical Engineering Department's very own Dr. Steven Van Sciver.

Dr. Van Sciver earned his PhD in Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Washington in 1976. He went on to work at the University of Wisconsin as Professor of Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics. In 1991, he joined the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, introducing cryogenics to graduate students as well as integrating the subject into research at the NHMFL. At Wisconsin, he served as Associate Director of the Applied Superconductivity Center and more recently as Director of Magnet Science and Technology at the NHMFL. Dr. Van Sciver became Mechanical Engineering's John H. Gorrie Professor in 2006. He retired from FSU in 2016 and was appointed Emeritus Professor.

Dr. Van Sciver received many other awards and honors including Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering in 2000, Fellow of the Cryogenics Society of America in 2007, and receiving the Mendelssohn Award from the International Cryogenic Engineering Committee in 2010. His 216 refereed journal publications and other work cover topics ranging from low temperature physics to magnet technology.

Dr. Van Sciver's accomplishments aren't simply a matter of his dedication to the field, but an indication of his profound interest in the importance of cryogenics. He explains that the field concerns low temperature behavior of fluids, and finds it fascinating that, as he says, "so many common properties of fluids and materials display unusual and important phenomena at low temperatures. A prime example is the onset of superfluidity in liquid helium below 2.2 K."

As interesting as cryogenics has been throughout his career, Dr. Van Sciver finds that the most rewarding aspect has been inspiring an understanding of the field among graduate students. This has to do with understanding the unique role cryogenics plays in engineering. "In engineering, one should always look at ways one can improve the performance of systems. Cryogenics is no different. I would tell my grad students to strive to become aware of the details of an engineering project and look for ways to apply your knowledge," reflected Dr. Van Sciver.

His passion for the study of cryogenics is evidenced by his research and teaching which has made such a strong impact in his field. Systems, such as high energy particle accelerators, now use superfluid helium in part because of Dr. Van Sciver's work on the liquid's transport properties. It's a testament to the caliber of Dr. Van Sciver's body of work for him to be recognized with the Samuel C. Collins Award. He will receive his award at the Cryogenic Engineering Conference in Madison, Wisconsin this July 2017.