Daniel R. Grice: 2021 Early Career Award recipient

// Materials Science & Engineering

Photo of Daniel R. Grice
Daniel R. Grice

Daniel R. Grice (BSMS&E ’09)
Senior materials engineer, Materials Evaluation and Engineering, Inc.

We are honoring Dan as a materials engineer who has significantly advanced the diagnosis and remediation of material failures, provided exemplary professional society leadership, and promoted careers in STEM.

How did you choose UW-Madison?

It was actually the only school I applied to. I knew I wanted to go into an engineering field. I wasn’t entirely sure which one until I got on campus. I grew up in in West Allis, and I wanted to stay in Wisconsin. I had a good in-state scholarship that I wanted to keep. When I was finishing high school, my brother was in Madison. I spent some time on campus with him, and that settled it.

How did you choose engineering?

I had a strong affinity for science and math and I knew that I wanted to keep taking science and math courses. When I came into SOAR, I was thinking either mechanical or chemical engineering, but the MS&E department did some materials demos (fun things like freezing things in liquid nitrogen) that attracted me. One that made a big impression was freezing a racquetball, then throwing it at a wall and it shattering. That got me to register for MS&E 250, the intro course. Once I got into MS&E, I loved the science, the small class sizes, and the community feeling of the department.

Was there a class that stands out in your mind?

It was the first materials lab. At that time, it was taught by David Larbalestier. That course was my first exposure to metallography, which is now an important part of my daily work. Furthermore, it was my first real exposure to writing very detailed laboratory reports. Professor Larbalestier and his TAs set high standards for technical writing and editing, which initially felt like a bit of a shock as a freshman. Up until that point, I had not been a very critical editor of my own writing, but technical writing and editing skills are absolutely essential to my everyday work now.

As a student, how did you spend your free time?

I was one of the founding members of Fundamentally Sound, the men’s a cappella group. I spent a lot of time in the materials building with my classmates studying. One of the most fun extracurricular materials activities we were involved in every couple of weeks was foundry fun nights. The last couple years of school, I was involved in the Hybrid Vehicle Team, and I spent a lot of late nights working in the auto shop.

Is there anyone who played a big role in your career?

Several people I met through ASM International. Ron Parrington (who hired me for my first job out of college) and Larry Hanke (my current boss) have really shaped my development as an engineer. While I was a co-op student at Mercury Marine, which was my first industry materials lab experience, I discussed networking with Kevin Anderson, another ASM fellow, and I can trace my entire career lineage to that one conversation. I’m proud to say I’ve never gotten a full-time job through a job listing; I cultivated a professional network, and it has defined my career. I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention the influence of Professor John Perepezko in getting so many students, like myself, involved in ASM International over the years.

Anyone else you’d like to mention?

My wife is Julie. Julie and I met during our freshman year in Madison. Our daughters are Mae and Rose.

Author: Staff