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Delivery Of Materials Science To Engineering Freshmen

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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

TIME 8: Materials, MEMS, and Nano

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.372.1 - 9.372.8

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Paper Authors

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Christopher Byrne

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

Session ____

Delivery of Materials Science to Engineering Freshman Chris Byrne Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green Kentucky


This paper describes the ongoing efforts to teach introductory materials science in a course offered to first semester mechanical engineering freshman at Western Kentucky University. The WKU mechanical engineering curriculum has other introductory engineering courses which students typically take at the same time. One goal of the two courses described in this paper is to provide exposure to the type of exercises and expectations more commonly found in the later semesters. That, combined with the technical content of the course, is intended to give students a better understanding of the nature of engineering. Since the course has only been offered for the past two years, meaningful student retention data is not available. However, it is anticipated that retention of motivated, capable students will be enhanced as a result of this freshman course experience.

Students with diverse academic backgrounds are introduced to the fundamentals of engineering materials in both lecture and laboratory settings. Course objectives and relationships to program curricula are described and presented in the context of the mechanical engineering experiences expected in later courses. Issues regarding student expectations and capabilities are discussed. A manufacturing component of the course is shown to be useful in giving exposure to the application, or practice-oriented side of engineering.

The objective of this paper is to demonstrate the challenges and successes in using an engineering science course for exposing first semester students to the engineering curriculum and engineering profession. Challenges include delivery to students with limited math, chemistry and physics backgrounds. Successes include improved visibility for the students regarding the art and science of engineering and improved preparation for later mechanical engineering courses. Approaches used for continual course improvement are also reviewed.

I. Introduction

The typical undergraduate engineering curriculum has a single materials science course integrated into a four-year plan1. Such courses are typically intended for sophomore or junior level students who have completed some of the introductory science courses such as physics and chemistry. Many of the Materials textbooks are designed for a student population with some calculus math skills ready to enter into a study of abstract concepts such as those underlying engineering materials. Moreover, the typical materials course is attended by students that have

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

Byrne, C. (2004, June), Delivery Of Materials Science To Engineering Freshmen Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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