Handling a Business Load
Before coming to Purdue as an associate professor of materials science engineering in 2005, Eric Stach started a company called Hummingbird Scientific. The company’s core specialty is building equipment and accessories that enable researchers to handle samples for Transmission Electron Microscopes (TEM). Their work fixes materials on the head of a pin—a 3mm disc, actually—so that they can be precisely oriented, heated, electrified, or otherwise manipulated. TEMs allow researchers to observe the internal structure of materials that end up in all sorts of applications: jet engines, car pistons, ceramics, and semiconductor devices, to name a few.
Hummingbird Scientific has nine employees. Stach’s partner, an engineer whose background is in manufacturing, is “brilliant at making really, really small stuff.” As a businessman-scientist, Stach enjoys providing help to other researchers as they write grants and develop new products. He likes the synergy that exists between doing research and being an entrepreneur. “My job,” he says, “is to leverage my material science expertise to target new areas of development and industrial need.”