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Materials science deals with some of the smallest substances on earth, items that are frequently not even one billionth of a meter in size.

Oddly, studying materials at such a tiny scale can require some massive equipment—which presents the issue of moving it around the lab space.

A CM Lodestar machine is installed for use by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
A CM Lodestar machine is installed for use by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Thankfully for UT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Columbus McKinnon Corporation has provided generous assistance.

“CM has long supported research in our department, both through Professor and Ivan Racheff Chair of Excellence Peter Liaw’s group and by sponsoring doctoral students,” said Douglas Fielden, technical supervisor for the department. “They recognized our need for a hoisting device and donated a CM Lodestar Electric Chain Hoist to us.

“Their generosity will allow us to do our work much more efficiently.”

The new lift is capable of lifting up to three tons at a time, moves on rollers across an I-beam in the lab, and has a lifetime warranty.

With equipment and materials being used in research frequently topping hundreds if not thousands of pounds, having the ability to easily move them around the research space is an obvious improvement.

Liaw’s research deals with the critical areas of studying fatigue and fracture in structural alloys and composites—an area where improvements can have a real-world impact on society.

Liaw is one of the leading researchers in the field, having published more than 700 journal papers and twenty books on the topic, collaborated with high-end facilities such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and received numerous accolades, such as the Royal E. Cabell Fellowship at Northwestern University and multiple outstanding performance awards from the Westinghouse Research and Development Center.

He has served the National Science Foundation as director of the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training Program, the International Materials Institutes Program, and UT’s Major Research Instrumentation Program.He has chaired the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society’s Mechanical Metallurgy Committee and served as chairman of the American Society for Metals’ Flow and Fracture Committee.

“Supporting UT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering is just one of the ways CM and its employees give back to our communities,” said Troy Raines, product engineering manager for CM’s Global Chain and Rigging Division. “The work being done by Dr. Liaw and his team has the potential to make our daily lives better and safer through many types of practical applications, and Columbus McKinnon is proud to play a part in supporting valuable research at UT.”


David Goddard (865-974-0683,