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Development of a materials science course to serve diverse constituencies

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Innovations in Teaching and Research in Physics or Engineering Physics II

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.416.1 - 23.416.8



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Paper Authors


Melissa Eblen-Zayas Carleton College

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Melissa Eblen-Zayas is an associate professor of physics in the Physics and Astronomy Department at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. She completed her BA in physics from Smith College in Northampton, MA and her PhD in physics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She an experimental condensed matter physicist interested in the electronic and magnetic properties of correlated electron materials as well as physics education.

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Development of a materials science course to serve diverse constituenciesAt small liberal arts colleges, students interested in materials science and engineering (MSE)often major in physics or chemistry before pursuing graduate study in engineering. However, inany given year, the number of students interested in pursuing MSE is small, making it difficult toregularly offer an introductory materials science course that is directed only at this constituency.We will describe the development of a course on materials science and sustainable energy that isaimed at serving both physics and chemistry majors interested in pursuing MSE andenvironmental studies majors who have different scientific preparation and interests.Seven years ago we first began offering an introductory materials science course for physics andchemistry students. The stand-alone course, housed in the physics department, provided anoverview of materials science, containing much of the content in a standard introductorymaterials science and engineering course. However, in order to appeal to a broader audience andprovide more focus for a course that offered extensive breadth but limited depth, we havemodified the course, concentrating on materials science, energy, and the environment. Therevised course begins with an overview of the relationship between materials structure andproperties, but then contains four units focused on how materials science can be applied toaddress environmental and energy challenges. These four units include materials for solar energyconversion, smart materials and energy applications, materials for green buildings, and materialslife cycle analysis.With this modified course, we aim to serve two groups of students: physics and chemistry majorswith an interest in MSE and environmental studies majors. We will discuss the successes andchallenges in trying to address the needs and interests of students in these two constituencies. Wewill provide an overview of how the course has evolved, including the changing learning goals,class activities, and assessment tools employed, as well as possible future directions for thiscourse.

Eblen-Zayas, M. (2013, June), Development of a materials science course to serve diverse constituencies Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19430

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