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"Adopt-a-Material": A Case Study for Self-driven Learning Process for Undergraduate Students

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 3

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Ajay P. Malshe University of Arkansas

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Dr. Malshe is a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering and 21st Century Endowed Chair Professor at the University of Arkansas. His fields of academic and industrial interest are advanced manufacturing, bio-inspired materials and designing and system integration. He has overlapping 23 years of academic plus 15 years of industrial entrepreneurship experience. Application areas of his interest are large scale systems, engineering in nature and social entrepreneurship. He has 225 peer-reviewed publications and has delivered 105 keynote and invited talks across the United States and the world. He has 22 allowed patents with more than 65 resulting products commercialized and launched, in a team, across many industrial sectors worldwide used by Fortune 500 companies in the energy, electric vehicle, heavy-duty trucking, railway transportation, and high performance race car sectors. Malshe has trained 67 graduate and post-doctoral students and more than 1250 undergraduate students and young professional engineers in industries. He has also worked extensively with high schools to advance student learning success. Malshe’s notable honors include: Membership in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) for “For innovations in nanomanufacturing with impact in multiple industry sectors”; Society of Manufacturing (SME)’s David Dornfeld Blue Sky Manufacturing Idea Award for “Factories-In-Space”; SME-S.M. Wu Research Implementation Award; three Edison Awards for Innovation; Tibbett Award by the US Small Business Association sponsored by EPA for successful technology transfer; R&D 100 Award, (the “Oscar” of innovation); Fellowships to the International 1. Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP), 2. the American Society of Materials (ASM), 3. the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (ASME), and 4. the Institute of Physics (IoP), London, England; multiple best paper awards; NanoBusiness Alliances’ Lifetime Achievement Award and Most Influential Nanotechnology Leaders award; and Special recognition under “Discoveries” from NSF for a new process, “Electric Pen Lithography (EPL) for sub-20 nm scale machining using nanoEDM.

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Salil T Bapat University of Arkansas Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Salil Bapat is currently a Materials & Manufacturing Research Scientist/Engineer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Arkansas under the mentoring of Dr. Ajay P. Malshe since June 2018. Dr. Bapat holds a Ph.D. degree in Microelectronics-photonics from University of Arkansas with emphasis on ‘tribology and surface characterization’. He has master’s and bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and engineering with experience in semiconductors, thin films processing and materials characterization. He has been involved with Dr. Malshe in teaching the introduction to materials class at the University of Arkansas for last 5 years in the capacity of teaching assistant, co-instructor and instructor.

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Materials science and engineering has become an integral part of engineering education over the last few decades due to its interdisciplinary subject matter for wide variety of industrial applications. Interdisciplinary nature of the subject matter also means that students majoring in non-materials engineering disciplines, in particular mechanical engineering, are required to learn materials science and engineering as a part of core curriculum. Inspiring these students in a classroom setting for a hands-on topic like materials engineering poses a unique set of challenges while designing the curriculum. Curriculum includes establishing balance between learning materials science and engineering fundamentals, processing and materials selection particularly for mechanical product applications. In this manuscript, authors report a curiosity-driven self-learning methodology, ‘adopt-a-material’. The ‘adopt-a-material’ project is a part of a semester long exercise, which runs in parallel with the classroom learning. This project has shown to inspire and engage students to drive their passion for learning the subject. This is due to their natural curiosity and affection for a specific product adopted based on their personal interest either due to a hobby (e.g. fishing) or due to personal or family medical history (e.g. artificial heart valves) or due to social cause (e.g. homeless shelter tent), alike adopting a pet. During the semester, the project runs largely in parallel with classroom learning of traditional topics such as chemical bonding, crystal structure, defects, diffusion, materials testing, and materials processing. This allows students to connect the dots between the structure-property-processing for their adopted material in a self-driven project. The project is presented in a poster form at the Institute of Nano Materials Science and Engineering and is judged by faculty and doctoral graduate students. Poster session gives students an opportunity to discuss their ideas/research with the judges and to build their communication skills. Over the last five years, it was observed that peaking student’s interest through relevant everyday life product application helps their retention of the subject matter. As a result, at the end of the semester, students graduated from the class with a deeper appreciation and understanding of materials science and engineering.

Malshe, A. P., & Bapat, S. T. (2019, June), "Adopt-a-Material": A Case Study for Self-driven Learning Process for Undergraduate Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31919

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