Rusty Boicourt, P.G.

NDE & Materials Specialist

How does this radio work? Can I make an electro-magnet? How much bang can I get out of a tablespoon of gunpowder?

These and many other questions filled Mr. Boicourt’s head as a kid. His first stereo was a tape recorder and a pair of speakers out of an old TV. He used to make rockets out of vinegar and baking soda. He liked hands-on experiments. He once burned off his eyebrows with a defective firework. Little-by-little, Mr. Boicourt discovered how things worked. Fortunately he kept all of his fingers and toes and gradually that curiosity gave rise to an interest in the sciences, namely: geology, chemistry, and physics. His high school and college studies culminated in a BS in geology which was, from his perspective, the most fun and interesting of the natural sciences. You got to go camping…and call it school! After 10 years as a licensed geologist working in the construction-consulting industry he began to feel that familiar curiosity set in again. This time, not just to know how things work, but why things work the way they do. This specialty is called Materials Science & Engineering (MSE); and if you’ve not heard of it, you will. It is an emerging science that bridges other sciences together. We used to build things out of materials, now we engineer the materials themselves to do things they didn’t do before. CMOS, LEDs, LiH batteries, fiber optic, carbon nanotubes, these are all creations of MSE. It will be MSE that leads to revolutions in energy creation and storage, transportation, and construction.

At MTI, Mr. Boicourt uses his understanding of MSE to evaluate construction materials. This service, known as Non-Destructive Evaluation or NDE, uses electro-magnetic energy and other tools to study the physical properties of materials like concrete and steel. The atoms of a material are bombarded with energy to make the atoms tell us what they are, where they are, and what they’re doing. When a material fails to perform as expected, his job is to find out why… by asking the material. It’s sort of CSI for construction. The answers are there, waiting to be discovered.