Q & A with Allen Kimel
In a nutshell, my job today entails educating future materials scientists and engineers and bragging about how Penn State MATSE is the best in the world!
When I was five years old, I wanted to be a fireman like my dad or a police detective like my grandmother.
Why I chose Penn State: When I returned from the United States Peace Corps in Swaziland, Africa, from teaching high school science and math, I was determined to teach for a living. I tried my hand in the public school system via a chemistry graduate program, but quickly decided I was not cut out for public schools. I continued the master's in chemistry program and learned that I love teaching undergraduates. I chose to pursue a Ph.D. so I could teach in college.
I asked myself when was I the happiest during my educational career to date. The answer was my undergraduate co-op at Babcock and Wilcox, researching high temperature ceramic composites. During that co-op, I also learned that Penn State was regarded as the strongest ceramics program in the country. I applied to Penn State MatSE for a Ph.D. in ceramics and Clive Randall invited me up for a visit. On the Saturday morning of my visit, on my way out of town, last minute, I serendipitously met with Jim Adair and we spoke for over two hours . . . the rest is history.
You might be surprised to know that: I was huge into the theater (acting, singing, sets, lights, and sound design). In high school, I performed at Busch Gardens, Walt Disney World, and in New Orleans. During my senior year at NC State, I had the lead in a show where I was in full body makeup and spent a decent portion of the show on stage wearing only a dance belt and a few strategically placed leaves.
When I think about my time at Penn State, my fondest memory is: I am still making memories! My favorite days are the first day of class and graduation. My favorite ‘strolling down memory lane’ activity is surfing through LinkedIn and reading about all the amazing accomplishments of our MatSE students and reaching out to say “Hello, and way-to-go!”
Words of wisdom to current students: “If you have built castles in the sky, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now build the foundations under them.” (Henry David Thoreau)
Whatever you do, define and envision success, then go make it happen.
Photo: At the top of the Tamarack Express, Heavenly Ski Resort, spring break 2022, with PK, son; Stevie Rocco; Avery, daughter; and Allen Kimel.