Materials Education Symposia - Home


3rd North American Materials Education Symposium, 2012

Alphabetical List of Speakers

(click on title to jump to full abstracts)

Speaker Institution Abstract Title
Prof. John Abelson Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Materials Selection for the Net-Zero Energy Home
Prof. Mike Ashby Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK Innovation in Materials Teaching
Dr. Jim Brenner Chemical Engineering, Florida Tech, USA A Hands-On Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Minor
Prof. Rudolph Buchheit Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University, USA Integrating Databases, Visualization, Simulation and Computation into the Materials Science and Engineering Curricula
Dr. Mark De Guire Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, USA Engaging First-Year Students with Materials Science and Sustainability
Prof. George Dieter  University of Maryland, USA Five Decades of Capstone Design: An Evolutionary Experience
Dr. Paul Eason Mechanical Engineering, University of North Florida, USA Assessment of Materials Selection Learning Outcomes Achieved Through an Open-Ended, Reverse-Engineering Design Challenge Using CES EduPack
Prof. John Fernandez Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Materials in architectural design: a framework of internal motivation driving contemporary architectural material selection
Dr. Katharine Flores Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University, USA Improving Student Learning in Materials Science: Identification of Specific Student Difficulties and the Development of Successful Group-Tutorials
Prof. Peter Goodhew  University of Liverpool, UK What students know about Materials Engineering
Dr. Ronald Kander College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, Philadelphia University, USA An Adventure in Extreme Curriculum Integration To Stimulate Innovation and Collaboration
Prof. Steve Krause Fulton School of Engineering, Arizona State University, USA A Toolkit for Student Engagement in Introductory Materials Classes
 Sydney Mainster Materials Lab, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin, USA Supporting and Promoting Material Pedagogy within a School of Architecture: a case study presentation on the University Co-op Materials Resource Center at University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture
Dr. John Nychka Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada Playing with Silly Putty: Not so Silly a Proposition in Materials Education
Prof. Greg Olson Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University, USA ICME Education: From Genome to Flight
Prof. Ian Robertson Division of Materials Research, National Science Foundation, USA The Materials Genome Initiative—The National Science Foundation Perspective
Prof. James Shackelford Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, Davis, USA THE BIOLOGY QUESTION: How Much Biological Science to Include (or Not?!) in the Introductory Materials Science Course
Prof. Satya Shivkumar Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, USA Illustration of Materials Science Principles through Food Engineering
Dr. Jonathan Stolk Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, USA Designing learning experiences that promote engagement, motivation, and well-being
Prof. Linda Vanasupa California Polytechnic State University, USA
Dr. Barry Wiskel Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada Development and Delivery of a Completely Online Senior Level Course for Material Engineers

Poster abstracts can be found on the posters page »

Session details and timing can be found on the Program page »


Materials Selection for the Net-Zero Energy Home

J. R. Abelson

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U.S.A.

The Materials Selection for Sustainability course attracts senior and graduate students from diverse engineering backgrounds at the University of Illinois to learn the selection and optimization methods in the MAE textbook and in the CES EduPack.  Here, we report the attempt of the class members to estimate the tradeoff between embodied and use energy in small homes.  One of our engineering colleagues had performed extensive simulations on homes with ultra-high energy performance, and then designed and constructed his own home, Equinox House (  By virtue of complete monitoring of energy use, he has shown that this home is zero-net annual energy use at the same construction cost as an equivalent conventional home. 

Our colleague provided the class with complete documentation of the construction details of his home, and then challenged us to evaluate the embodied energy and CO2 footprint of the very high levels of insulation, which have a volume of ~ 4000 cubic feet in the walls and roof.  For comparison, class members compared the results of 14 independent construction options that designers and builders might use, ranging from upgraded conventional construction to the use of 12-inch thick styrofoam in the strand insulated panel method.  A preview: at least one option involved an embodied energy of over 1 terrajoule! 

Finally, the class attempted to optimize the insulation values over the lifetime of the home and encountered three fundamental issues.  (i) What lifetime should be considered–is it reasonable to suppose 100 years, spanning 5-10 different owners?  (ii) What cost of conventional and PV energy should be projected into the future?  (iii) And even if a 100-year energy optimization favors meter-thick cork walls, would it ever make sense to move in this direction?  We will highlight the learning challenges that accompanied this whole-class project.

Materials education: adapting to needs of the 21st Century

M. F. Ashby

Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, U.K.

What are Universities for?  The short answer is: the creation, preservation and transmission of knowledge.  The last of these – transmission – is what this Materials Education symposium is about, but it can’t be divorced from the other two.  This talk is about the transmission of material knowledge in ways that recognize the broader technical, economic and social conditions in which it takes place.

It is important for students to appreciate both the history of our subject and its linking role in modern engineering.  The subject of Materials can trace back its history for at least 4000 years, a history longer than that of any of the other “disciplines” shown in the adjacent Figure.  It evolved from early Metallurgy, which was itself informed by alchemy and by tradition enshrined in folklore.

Today, the subject sits at the intersection of Physics, Chemistry, Geo and Bio Sciences, Environmental Science and Engineering.  The Materials curriculum at many universities touches on all of these.  This breadth is unusual and makes the subject uniquely well-placed to contribute to the solution of many of today’s challenges, particularly

  • Interdisciplinary thinking that bridges the disciplines shown in the figure, an essential ingredient for innovation from cross-fertilization.
  • Devising ways in which materials and processes can be made more efficient, less expensive and less environmentally damaging – one of the central challenges in advancing materials in the 21st century.
  • Thinking creatively about material needs to meet the changing demands of industry in the next 30 years, and in doing so, linking the science to the engineering
  • Introducing students to the Grand Challenges of our time such as future mobility, clean energy and sustainability, all of which require an approach combining information from several of the disciplines shown in the Figure plus an appreciation of the role of technology in society.

A balanced Materials education today must include both depth, leading to expertise in the subject, and breadth, allowing material issues to be judged in the light of contemporary economic and societal concerns of the present and the future.  This is consistent with the increasingly integrated nature of technical education.  The evolution of materials teaching has followed such a path.  At one time metallurgy, polymer science, and glass and ceramic technology were taught in different Departments, even at different Universities; today they are generally integrated into a single program under the heading of Materials Science or Engineering Materials.  There is now a move beyond this towards what I will call Materials Systems and Design, integrating broader technical, economic, environmental and social issues into an entity. 

The talk will conclude by returning to Grand Challenges, illustrating the way in which they can be introduced, using Sustainability as an example.

A Hands-On Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Minor

J. Brenner*, K. Winkelmann, J. Olson, Y. Lin, S. Xu, L. Cole, B. Burnett, K. Hari, K. Ali, J. Kindred, and A. Phillips

Chemical Engineering, Florida Tech, Melbourne, FL, U.S.A.

* corresponding author

Florida Tech features the first nanotech program with multiple three-credit labs, as most students learn nanotechnology in "hands-on" mode. New Nanotech Lab II and Materials Characterization Lab courses have been pilot-tested to complement existing Nanotechnology and Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering lecture courses and a freshman Nanotechnology Lab I course.

The Nanotech Lab II course adds SEM, TEM, STM, and AFM characterization of nanomaterials made using both literature and new syntheses.  Students synthesized CdS and CdSe quantum dots used in biomedical imaging, made phosphorescent europia-doped yttria and saw how its phosphorescence was related to heat treatment conditions. They also made metallic, zeolitic, and Mo carbide nanoparticle catalysts, and polymer/silica structural nanocomposites.  Nanoelectronics industry experiments included the use of photolithographic processes to make microfluidic channels used in lab-on-a-chip biodiagnostic screening devices, the synthesis of carbon nanotubes and Ni nanowires, and even synthesis and testing of polymer/carbon nanocomposite sensing elements in an electronic nose.  Students tracked the growth of ammonium hydrogen phosphate and zeolitic clay crystals, the growth and misfolding of proteins associated with Alzheimer's disease, and the destruction of bone from excessive acid concentrations associated with gouty arthritis.

Materials Characterization Laboratory addresses the need to get students from rookie to independent status quickly without significant cost or downtime.  This class was composed of lectures, hands-on demonstrations, online testing prior to using the equipment, mentoring under a graduate student, and passing a hands-on practical test.  Students found development of troubleshooting flowcharts for STM and AFM particularly helpful.  Establishing a grading system that emphasizes independence is sufficient to get the students to progress.  Crash courses are effective means to get students past the intimidation barrier.  Students effectively teach each other, when such teaching helps them get an A.  Finally, having students do as much as possible early in the semester is the best approach.  

Integrating Databases, Visualization, Simulation and Computation into the Materials Science and Engineering Curricula

P. M. Anderson, R. G. Buchheit*, and W. E. Windl

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University, OH, U.S.A.

* corresponding author

Ohio State University will move from a quarters-based academic calendar to a semesters-based calendar beginning with the 2012 academic year. As part of this change, we have elected to revise degree program curricula in a significant manner. A key objective in our revision was to respond to elements of the Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) and Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) grand challenges pertaining to education of materials scientists and engineers. In responding to these challenges, we have developed a curriculum that attempts to integrate congruently database use, visualization, simulation and computation approaches in materials science with other core educational content. At the undergraduate level, our goal is produce graduates who are cognizant of the broad range of computational tools available to materials engineers and what they can do to solve engineering problems, and who are able to use a number of those tools proficiently to solve problems of practical importance themselves. The MSE core curriculum includes 9 credit hours (four courses), or 20% devoted to these topics. Students may take an additional 4 credit hours (two courses) in elective content on computational methods in materials science. In this presentation, details will be presented on the specific course offerings, course content, exercises, and software packages used. How the courses are postured in the curriculum will also be addressed. Hurdles we foresee will also be discussed including readiness of the students to learn and readiness of the faculty to teach this new content, software support and expense, and controls needed to prevent unnecessary proliferation of software packages in the teaching of this new content.


Engaging First-Year Students with Materials Science and Sustainability

M. R. De Guire

Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A.

Many first‐year engineering students are eager to tackle engineering topics and activities, but typical first‐year curricula impose a year or more of mathematics, basic science, and general education before engineering courses begin. While students are still acquiring these basic tools, what are some engineering topics that can be realistically and successfully treated in coursework? Do these experiences engage students?

This talk will summarize several activities and topics at the intersection of materials science and sustainability that are being used with first‐year students at CWRU. These experiences are part of a large first‐year course, Chemistry of Materials (ENGR 145), required of essentially all CWRU engineering undergraduates:

• An extra‐credit design project, participated in by 58 teams (about 200 students), with the objective of encouraging the general public to conserve water and energy in their bathing and showering habits.

• Embodied energy: what is the energy cost of materials? How much energy is saved by recycling, and how much materials performance is lost?

• The carbon footprints of recycling vs. combustion: are there materials that we are better off burning than recycling?

Once first‐year students are exposed to these considerations, students can progress to more complex questions. The following were addressed in individual faculty‐guided summer research experiences after the first year:

• What are the energy payback times, and the economic payback times, of actual renewable energy installations (a 100‐kW wind turbine on the CWRU campus, and a solar array at nearby Oberlin College)?

• What effect does the light‐weighting of single‐use water bottles have on their mechanical properties?

From these experiences, the following conclusions were drawn:

• The topics of energy use and sustainability motivate and engage first‐year students.

• Teams consisting of 3 to 5 first‐year students can successfully carry out an interdisciplinary design project involving both technical and soft skills.

Five Decades of Capstone Design: An Evolutionary Experience

G. E. Dieter

Department of Mechanical Engineering, A. James Clark School of Engineering, University of Maryland, MD, U.S.A.

Starting in the early 1960s the accrediting board for engineering programs in the United States required that undergraduate programs in each engineering discipline must offer a Capstone Design course.  As the name implies, the objective was to apply the knowledge gained throughout the four year engineering curriculum to the solution of an open-ended design problem. This talk describes the evolution in undergraduate design courses over that period, as experienced by the speaker in teaching in three universities in both Met.E and ME engineering curricula.

In the beginning there were few texts and no convergence on what constituted engineering design. The capstone course was often used as a catchall for topics that faculty felt students needed some understanding about before graduation. Optimization, ethics, and engineering economy were common examples. Topics for the design problem were often assigned by the instructor, based on his consulting or research experience.  There was little structure to what students did in design. By the mid-1970s there were still only five design texts but maybe 12 optimization texts. Many engineering faculty felt that design was optimization. We still did not have a well-established design process. The appearance in 1984 of Ken Wallace’s translation of Pahl and Beitz’s seminal text Engineering Design introduced importantly needed structure into the engineering design process.

In the United States an important milestone was the establishment of a research program in engineering design by the National Science Foundation in the late 1980s. This gave legitimacy to the subject in the eyes of many department chairs and deans. Major emphasis was given by NSF to better understanding of the decision making process in design. Another important input to design education was the importance given to learning good team building skills by U.S. companies, which soon filtered back to the engineering schools. Today most engineering schools impart a high level of competence in design through senior capstone design courses.

Assessment of Materials Selection Learning Outcomes Achieved Through an Open-Ended, Reverse-Engineering Design Challenge Using CES EduPack 

P. Eason

Mechanical Engineering, University of North Florida, FL, U.S.A.

Open ended design challenges are widely accepted as effective teaching tools for critical thinking, and problem solving.  Much attention has been paid to incorporation of these projects into engineering coursework at the capstone design level.  However, use of this approach in lieu of traditional, lecture-based pedagogy in core engineering subjects has gained less favor.  Inclusion of a truly “open ended” design challenge requires that special attention be paid to the learning outcomes assigned to specific courses to ensure the students are allowed enough freedom to explore a variety of design options while still demonstrating proficiency in a prescribed set of skills. Requiring the use of a specific software package in reverse engineering of the materials selection of a product or device provides sufficient constraints on the report outcome while giving students the latitude to compare and contrast multiple design scenarios.

In this study, materials selection was taught as a technical elective to mechanical engineering undergraduates using such a design challenge format.  Students were divided into two teams and required to reverse engineer the structural components of a cell phone. Students were provided CES EduPack software, and tasked with optimizing either the performance or environmental impact of the phone.  Students were given instruction in the use of the software, with several introductory lectures on materials selection algorithms, then allowed to explore their reverse engineering decisions.  Assessment of learning outcomes and achievement of course objectives were measured through the final design reports form the teams, institutional Instructional Satisfaction Questionnaires (ISQ’s) and a semester end survey developed for this study.  Data indicates the students remained challenged throughout the course, and endeavored to broaden their understanding of materials properties specifically to optimize the output from the software.  In short, they learned both the software and material selection simultaneously, with little lecture based instruction.  

Materials in architectural design: a framework of internal motivation driving contemporary architectural material selection

J. Fernandez

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Contemporary architectural design is now informed by advanced material selection through computational tools supported by enormous databases. The introduction of rigorous material selection has been a timely development alongside the adoption of life cycle assessment (LCA), substance flow analysis (SFA), and material flow analysis (MFA) as methods to understand the environmental consequences of material design decisions. While these developments present strong evidence of a fundamental shift toward performance attributes partly derived of material properties, the culture of architectural design continues to focus on the allure of emerging cues of Œmaterial novelty¹. The nature of the drive for novelty and it¹s continued role in shaping architectural discourse and design must be acknowledged as a significant force today more than ever. Yet what is the direction and purpose of material novelty in architectural design? What is the nature of the drive for novelty? How is novelty defined and why does it command such influence in architectural design? Prof. Fernandez will present the work results of several classes and research in architectural materials at MIT for the purpose of describing a framework of internal motivation that results in a convergence toward distinct material choices.

Improving Student Learning in Materials Science:
Identification of Specific Student Difficulties and the Development of Successful Group-Tutorials

R. Rosenblatt1, A. F. Heckler1, and K. Flores2*

1. Physics Education Research Group, Dept. of Physics, The Ohio State University, U.S.A.
2. Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University, U.S.A.

* corresponding author

We report on findings of a project to identify specific student difficulties in an introductory materials science and engineering course for undergraduate engineering students, and to design and assess evidence-based curricular materials for this course. Through interviews, testing, and classroom observation of over 1000 students, we examined in detail student understanding of basic concepts in materials science including topics such as atomic structure, mechanical properties, defects, diffusion, phase diagrams, failure, and the processing of metals. We identified four general areas in which students have difficulties: Student confusion of similar concepts, student difficulties with reasoning about concepts with more than one variable, student use of inappropriate models or analogies, and student difficulties with common graphs and diagrams used in materials science. We provide a number of specific examples of each category, focusing on the materials science of metals. To address these areas of difficulty and improve student understanding of core concepts in materials science, we have designed and implemented concept oriented group-work lessons or “tutorials”. The lessons were designed for weekly 48 minute recitations in which students work together in small groups on the tutorials in the presence of teaching assistants who assess and facilitate student progress. To determine the learning outcome, we analyzed scores on the final exam and found that even accounting for the fact that slightly “better” students tended to attend recitations more often, there was a 5.6%, 0.35 standard deviations, valued-added effect of the recitations on final exam performance. In addition, two academic terms with tutorials significantly outperformed a control term by 10%, 0.58 standard deviations, on a post test conceptual inventory. These results suggest that these recitation methods and materials are effective in teaching students the difficult and important conceptual materials which they were designed to address.


What students know about Materials Engineering

P. J. Goodhew

School of Engineering, University of Liverpool, U.K

A team from several universities, led by The University of Liverpool, have developed and trialled a questionnaire designed to assess the background knowledge and understanding of students entering, or about to enter, the first year of Materials or Engineering undergraduate programme.  This background knowledge and experience is not confined to “schoolbook” knowledge but also covers IT skills and general knowledge which a proto-engineer might be expected to have acquired.  In its current form, the questionnaire consists of 40 questions selected from a bank of 80 and it can be delivered at any university via a web interface. 

The questions were tested on, and modified by, a team of engineering students.  The questionnaire has been used in several universities for two years, attracting about 900 responses so far.  It has initially been used only within the first weeks of the first year, as students start their programme.  The initial results, relating to overall performance, and the effects of country of origin and prior qualifications, will be outlined in this presentation. The questionnaire could be used in any country in the world, and in several other ways, with very slight modification. The team which produced it has been kept in place specifically to enable future modifications. 

The other potential uses include: follow-up tests to assess how student knowledge is retained/increased as they progress through their programme; recommended study by accepted applicants before they join their programme; as the basis for activities on days when applicants visit universities, and; as a free-standing self-test resource for students considering the study of engineering. 

Evidence-based recommendations on using the questionnaire, and analyses of potential future uses, will be presented.  The questionnaire is already publically available and instructions for its use will be given.

An Adventure in Extreme Curriculum Integration To Stimulate Innovation and Collaboration

R. G. Kander

Executive Dean. College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, Philadelphia University, PA, U.S.A.

Looking back across the history of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, there have been nearly continuous calls for curriculum innovation and improvement. In the past 20 years, however, many of these calls have intensified and focused on the incorporation of interdisciplinary, problem-­‐based, “real-­‐world” learning in one form or another. These range from more general reports like those coming from the Boyer Commission in the mid 1990’s, to specific work that led to the restructuring of the ABET accreditation process through EC2000. More recently, publications by the National Academy of Engineering such as “The Engineer of 2020” and “Educating the Engineer of 2020” have reenergized the call for innovation in STEM curricula.

Philadelphia University is a small, private university with a long tradition of professional technical education and an emerging focus on innovation and interdisciplinary education. The newly formed College of Design, Engineering and Commerce is the home to a revolutionary, trans-disciplinary curriculum that retains the core learning of the three disciplines within the college (design, engineering and business) while forging new collaborations between the disciplines.

As a model for professional university education in the 21st century, Philadelphia University is focused on providing graduates with the skills necessary to be leaders in their professions at every level of their careers. By bringing these three disciplines together, the new College will push students to think beyond the boundaries of existing disciplines and focus on market-driven innovation through teamwork, collaboration and connections with industry partners.

Students will gain expertise in their disciplines and a fluency in the trans-disciplinary ways of the 21st-century work world on a much larger scale than what has been seen in higher education to date. The new College is a forward-thinking and timely concept because it combines the best aspects of the three disciplines at its core to focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. This is happening exactly at a time when innovation is universally recognized as a critical element in global economic recovery, as well as in solving today's complex, world‐scale human problems.

This presentation will review the most recent calls for STEM curricular change and present the exciting new response from Philadelphia University, the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. The presentation will focus on the efforts to synergistically combine targeted curricular changes with a focus on content-specific teaching pedagogy and a new academic management structure. The presentation will conclude with a specific example of incorporating CES EduPack software into a new trans-disciplinary “Material Selection and Design” course that will be part of the college core curriculum in the new college. The course is specifically designed for sophomore level engineers, designers (ranging from industrial design to graphic design to fashion design), business majors and architects.

A Toolkit for Student Engagement in Introductory Materials Classes

S. Krause1* and J. Kelly2

1. Fulton School of Engineering, Materials Program, Arizona State University, AZ, U.S.A
2. Fulton Teachers College, Curriculum and Instruction, Phoenix, AZ, U.S.A

* corresponding author

A toolkit of strategies and materials has been created to facilitate student engagement in introductory materials classes based on three major principles of how people learn. The first principle is that instructors should be aware of and utilize students' prior knowledge to inform instruction. To assess prior knowledge at semester beginning a tool, a Materials Concept Inventory (MCI), was created. It is a 30-item, multiple-choice, conceptual test covering nine concept areas. It can also be used to measure learning when given again at semester end. The second principle is to actively engage students with one another to promote development of their own deep conceptual knowledge. One tool for promoting this is clicker questions, or Materials Concept Tests (MCTs), 104 multiple choice-questions that cover most topics in introductory materials. When used in class, both students and instructors can assess student learning. The MCI and CTs are available for real-time use by googling beta web sites at and Chemical Warehouse. Another tool to promote conceptual development is a set of Materials Concept Maps (MCMs) and quizzes which diagram conceptual connections of materials structure and properties, available at Also, to engage students in content from mini-lectures, Materials Classroom Activities (MCAs) were created and are found at Finally, based on the third principle of fostering student metacognition, an end-of-class reflection sheet requests that students briefly describe (anonymously) their own class points of: interest; muddiness; and learning about learning. The instructor can use responses as feedback in the next class to address students' muddy points or other issues. Assessment results of teaching by student engagement, compared with earlier lecture-based classes by the same instructor, showed significant gains on specific course concepts using the innovative strategies and materials and an increase in persistence of students completing the class that rose from 85% to 95%.

Supporting and Promoting Material Pedagogy within a School of Architecture: a case study presentation on the University Co-op Materials Resource Center at University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

S. Mainster

Materials Lab, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin, TX, U.S.A.

The Material Collection at the UTSoA is one of the foremost collections of its kind at any university in the United States.  It is common for many architecture and design schools to contact the University Co-op Materials Resource Center (commonly referred to as the Materials Lab) when they are developing a similar resource. Ever expanding, it currently holds 27,000+ individual material samples and strives to be reflective of the current building and design market, along with a particular focus on smart, innovative, emerging and sustainable design materials and technologies.  The School of Architecture envisions its materials collection as one designed to purposely promote education in advanced and interdisciplinary materials research, development, design and construction, and for the past few years, has hired Curators trained in one of the design professions to help support that vision.

As an architect* serving as Materials Lab Curator, my interest is on developing an understanding of potential and application of the material samples we obtain. Of parallel importance to identifying which specific materials should be part of the Material Collection, there are areas which need to be addressed given that this resource is geared towards Architecture students.

In my presentation, I will cover the following:

  • How collections such as these, are best utilized given the specific professional audience
  • What the educational goal is for a school of architecture, in maintaining a Materials Collection
  • Layout and conceptual organization of the UT SoA Materials Resource Center (including the Materials Collection) as a center
  • Additional programs/events are held in the Materials Resource Center - exhibitions, tours, classes, reviews, research, social media - and those proposed projects which are in development
  • UTSoA Materials Resource Center user data for the past two years; using Material Collection circulation data and Resource Center use data as a means to infer changing attitudes/interests towards the study of materials with in the UT School of Architecture

Playing with Silly PuttyTM: Not so Silly a Proposition in Materials Education

J. A. Nychka

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada

Silly PuttyTM is my favourite material – of all time. I routinely take 5lbs of Silly PuttyTM to my lectures. Many materials science and engineering concepts can be visualized with Silly PuttyTM – many more than you may even think: grains, grain boundaries, grain shape changes during plastic deformation, stress states, creep, ductile to brittle transitions, stress concentrations and fracture mechanics, impact failure, pearlite formation, crystal structures, atomic bonding, viscoelasticity, composites, strain rate dependent properties, hardness, thermal shock, and yes, even more!

The pedagogy, and incorporation, of play in curricula is critical in early childhood development, yet we tend to ignore the importance of play in higher education, or at least we lack inclusion; in my opinion the lack of play is to the detriment of engagement in learning. This presentation will explore the author’s use of Silly PuttyTM as a teaching tool in large introductory level materials engineering courses.

The introduction of a childhood toy breaks barriers and power relationships, and allows for wonderful visualizations of difficult to grasp concepts within materials science and engineering courses. We now have a required lab kit “What’s in the Box?” for our intro level materials course and in it of course is an egg of Silly PuttyTM (the kit was described at the 2011 Materials Education Symposium in Worcester). The students have labs wherein they use their Silly PuttyTM to perform various experiments with their own hands. Follow up questions allow the students to make connections between concepts in the course. Targeted homework and exam questions have been used to assess whether student learning has improved as a result of playing with putty! The visual and hands‐on nature of the activities with Silly PuttyTM have led to higher levels of achievement as compared to a negative control.

Translation of Silly PuttyTM experiments and demonstrations in outreach activities such as in grade schools, open houses, and even high level materials research are possible with Silly PuttyTM.

ICME Education: From Genome to Flight

G. B. Olson

Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University & QuesTek Innovations LLC, U.S.A.

A novel integration of design into the undergraduate engineering curriculum has been under development for the past 20 years at Northwestern. Multiyear design education initiated in the materials curriculum employs an integrated research/education system in which funded graduate research in technical design provides the infrastructure for graduate student coaching of undergraduate design teams. A Materials Design Studio serves as a central teaching facility where software tools introduced throughout core courses are integrated in a required junior-level Materials Design course centering on computational design. Under a new Design Institute, a schoolwide freshman-level Engineering Design and Communications course co-taught by engineering and writing faculty provides a common foundation for design practice across technical disciplines. Building on the hierarchical coaching model of the materials program, cross-disciplinary concurrent computational engineering of materials and structures in multiyear engineering schoolwide "Institute Projects" now involve multidisciplinary undergraduate teams spanning freshman to senior level. At the graduate level, skills of multidisciplinary collaboration are fostered by a new cross-departmental doctoral “cluster program” in Predictive Science and Engineering Design, and an affiliated one-year MS program in ICME has been initiated. Case studies from QuesTek’s successful commercialization of ICME technology span the range from construction of fundamental databases to their efficient application in materials design and accelerated flight qualification for frontier aerospace applications.

The Materials Genome Initiative—The National Science Foundation Perspective

I. Robertson1* and S. McKnight2

1. Division of Materials Research, National Science Foundation, U.S.A
2. Division of Civil, Mechanical and Manufacturing Innovation, National Science Foundation, U.S.A

* corresponding author

The Materials Genome Initiative has the goal of accelerating each step in the materials continuum – from materials discovery, through development, to property optimization, to systems design and optimization, to certification, to manufacturing and to deployment – such that the time from discovery of a material to its use in a product or application is reduced as is the overall cost.   The goal will be achieved through advances in, and the synergistic coupling of, the three key elements that form the Materials Innovation Infrastructure.  These elements are characterization tools, which includes experimental capabilities as well as synthesis and processing strategies; computational tools, which includes algorithm and software development; and data.   Although these coupled elements can be applied separately to each step in the materials continuum, the acceleration and economic benefits will be realized only if they are applied across all steps simultaneously and in an integrative manner. The complexity and challenge set by this Initiative requires transformative approaches to materials research and materials education.    In this presentation, the Initiative and its key elements will be described, some of the immediate challenges to the materials community will be highlighted and opportunities, within the National Science Foundation, for developing and sustaining the Materials Innovation Infrastructure will be presented.

THE BIOLOGY QUESTION: How Much Biological Science to Include (or Not?!) in the Introductory Materials Science Course

J. F. Shackelford

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California
Davis, U.S.A.

It has been said that “biology is the physics of the twenty-first century,” i.e., while advances in physics were the dominant story of science through the middle of the twentieth century, advances in biology since the Watson-Crick paper of 1953 have been dominant. From the 1960s definition of “materials science” or “materials science and engineering” as separate fields growing out of such traditional fields as metallurgy and ceramic engineering, we have generally considered our “materials” discipline as being part of the physical sciences. We have nonetheless found some of the more interesting applications of engineered (inorganic) materials to be those in the field of medicine, e.g., metals for prostheses in orthopaedic surgery and stents in cardiology. The popular PBS series on “Making Stuff” in January 2011 showed that some advances in “materials science” are now moving beyond the traditional definition of the physical sciences and are better described as biological sciences. “Tissue engineering” would be an example. The field of materials science may be moving beyond “biomaterials” (engineered materials used in medical applications) to include true “biological materials.” The resulting question is how much basic biological science should be included for the introductory student of materials science. The purpose of this talk is not so much to answer the question as to raise it.

Illustration of Materials Science Principles through Food Engineering

S. Shivkumar

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, U.S.A.

Examples from the food industry offer a perfect platform to illustrate the strong interdependence of structure and properties.  The author has regularly taught introductory undergraduate and graduate classes in materials science.   In 2004, a senior level class, labeled Food Engineering, was designed to further reinforce the concepts of mechanics and materials science.  Since then this class has become very popular on campus and at the last offering in 2011 over 100 students registered for the class.  The class mostly consists of ME’s but also attracts students from other disciplines such as Chemical engineering and BME.  Some of the topics discussed in this class include levels of structure in foods, macromolecules, food rheology, heat transfer, mechanical and textural properties of foods, freezing, colloids, foams and gels, surface phenomena and food extrusion and molding.   Some of the types of foods discussed include fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, chocolate, ice cream and cakes.  All these foods provide an ideal vehicle to teach various principles of polymer science and various hierarchical levels of structures in complex materials.  The class relies heavily on laboratories and group projects.  Some of the labs include texture measurement in fibrous and hard foods with the Instron machine, mechanical properties of foamed foods, measurement of viscoelastic properties in gels, application of thermal analysis to study freezing, measurement of the heat transfer coefficient in potatoes and illustration of sugar-water transitions in candy making.  The students also cook various foods based on the principles discussed in class.  In general, the class is very well received and students seem to appreciate the application of engineering principles in products that they see or consume on a daily basis.  This presentation will highlight the design of this course, the description of various labs and projects and include an overview of student experiences.

Designing learning experiences that promote engagement, motivation, and well-being

J. Stolk1 and L. Vanasupa2

1. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, MA, U.S.A.
2. Materials Engineering Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA, U.S.A.

The intent of this session is to enhance all participants’ capacity to design learning experiences for deeper learning, regardless of learning context. As engineers, we design systems or processes based on the functional requirements. We also understand the physical principles involved well enough to choose among design variables so that the system or process can function as intended. In this 1-hour session, we invite participants to engage in this same tried and true method as a learning engineer. Through a facilitated activity, participants will conceptually design a learning experience whose functional requirements are to motivate, engage, and foster greater well-being in the learner. This activity will reveal how faculty members’ hidden assumptions structurally couple to learner’s well-being, motivation and engagement. In the structured process, participants will be given two visual tools that are grounded in theories and empirical research from several relevant social science domains. These research-based tools illustrate the current understanding of the underlying learning science principles at play in learning environments. More importantly, they enable the learning engineer to make strategic design decisions to foster intrinsic motivation, creativity, engagement, and growth in our students and ourselves. 

Development and Delivery of a Completely Online Senior Level Course for Material Engineers

J. B. Wiskel

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada.

A completely online senior level/graduate materials engineering course on Microalloyed Steels was developed using the program Camtasia for lecture development and the tools available in Vista/Blackboard for asynchronous lecture delivery, class discussions and  student interaction and presentations. The motivation for the online course was two-fold -  firstly to provide the materials undergraduate students with the flexibility of an asynchronous online course (in terms of course scheduling and other obligations) and secondly, to provide practicing (i.e. working) engineers in the field an opportunity for professional development. From course evaluations taken over several years, the response of the students to the completely online course was found to vary from very positive to negative. The advantages and drawbacks of using a completely online course in materials engineering, from both the instructor and student perspective, will be discussed. From a pedagogical perspective, it is believed that the tools and techniques used for the completely online course in combination with a limited traditional classroom setting would be a beneficial combination.