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A General Education Course On Materials

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Materials Science for Nonmajors

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.42.1 - 9.42.5



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Paper Authors

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David Bahr

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M. Grant Norton

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3464

Student Response to a General Education Course on Materials

M. Grant Norton, David F. Bahr

School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Washington State University Pullman WA 99164-2920

Abstract This paper describes the response that students have had to our general education course on materials. The course is now in its fourth year and we have been able to collect data from student surveys distributed at the end of each semester. Also included are details of some of the resources that we have found particularly useful in teaching this course.


To increase the awareness of materials among the general student population at Washington State University (WSU) we developed a course, MSE 440 Materials: The Foundations of Society and Technology. This course is taught as a Tier III course in the General Education Program and was offered for the first time in Fall 2000, and has now been offered four times (fifth time in progress at time of writing). At the 2002 Annual Meeting we presented the rationale for developing the course, what we teach, and student feedback.1 The present paper provides an update on the course, the results of student surveys, and resources that we use in the course.

Enrollment Data

Our course is targeted towards students with non-SMET backgrounds. We try to recruit students from as diverse academic disciplines as possible. Table I shows the majors that have participated in the course over each of the four semesters it has been offered. (The data for spring 2004 is based on present enrollment.) The number of different majors that have taken the course is now 29 indicating that we are being successful in reaching out to students in the broad university community. The other observation that can be made from Table I is that each time the course is offered we are often retaining students in a major that have already taken the course. The main exception to this is that there were no architecture students in the course for spring 2003. In the spring 2003 semester our course clashed with a required architecture course, in spring 2004 we are back to having several architecture students. In the first three years student word of mouth has seemed to be very important in attracting students into the course. This observation indicates that students in majors that have taken the course are enjoying it and finding it of interest and recommending it to their colleagues. We still would like to attract more students from the liberal arts. We are working with faculty in these programs to try and promote our course among their students. Interestingly, the spring 2004 course showed that few students this semester enrolled

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Bahr, D., & Norton, M. G. (2004, June), A General Education Course On Materials Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--14049

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015