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Exploration and Innovation in Creative Material Education

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session 1

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Paper Authors


Robert A Heard Carnegie Mellon University

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Dr. Heard holds a Teaching Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University. Past work includes activities as an industrial consultant, entrepreneur/president of two companies, and vice president positions in several engineering companies. His experience lies largely in the development and application of specialized new technologies and business opportunities, having significant international business and project experience. He has served on the Board of Directors of the AIST, worked on several committees in professional societies, and is a member of MRS, ASM, TMS, Sigma Xi and ASEE. He has authored 30+ technical papers on a wide range of activities in materials science, including education, innovation management, environmental issues, nano-materials, steelmaking, casting, plasma and alternate iron technologies and authored a book on the Horizontal Continuous Casting of Steel.

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Christiaan Job Nieman Universidad de los Andes

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Industrial Designer of The Hague University, with a Masters in Architecture from Universidad de Los Andes, with more than 15 years of experience as an independent designer in different fields from product design to architecture and urban design. He was a partner of Architectuurwerkplaats de Ruimte (2003-2004) and founding partner of the QENEP architecture & design office (2004-2008) based in The Netherlands.

He has been a teacher of Industrial Design since 1999 at the University of The Hague (1999-2008), the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (2008-2012) and the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogot√° (2009 onwards). Since 2015 he is a full-time assistant professor in the Faculty for Architecture and Design of the Universidad de Los Andes. He teaches Product Development, Sustainability, and a course in Design, Processes & Materials.

Christiaan Job Nieman's work as a designer is characterized by being directed towards sustainability at an environmental and social level. Reuse and repurposing of materials, Cradle to Cradle, and Biomimicry are his inspiration in the search for energetic, economic and social sustainability, but more than anything he designs with the purpose of finding simple solutions to complex problems. This all from the product scale to that of urban interventions, and from commercial proposals to bottom-up social innovation. He works mostly in a collaborative and collective way, seeking to apply the design in a multidisciplinary and participatory field where possible. Tends to seek action and intervention as a way of experimentation.

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Exploration and Innovation in Creative Material Education

Materials play a broad role in modern life yet with few exceptions, the only significant formal education of materials is available in specialized post-secondary educational programs. Furthermore, even where available, students enrolled outside of engineering or technical programs may find limited opportunities to study materials, or they may be hesitant to enroll in a materials course because they feel intimidated by the potential technical analysis and explanations. As a result, in many institutions, schools outside of engineering colleges (design, architecture, business, fine arts etc.) often resort to offering their students a "light" coverage of materials from the perspective of their own discipline. We propose that there are limits to this approach. First, in everyday living, people encounter and solve engineering and even material application problems continuously, even sub-consciously, and therefore, much of the basic material engineering can be taught to students at a level that does not necessarily screen them based on their scientific or mathematical abilities. Second, students that are in disciplines that engage some level of material understanding also represent a population that is creative and unbounded by preconceived (or taught) constraints and therefore can envision different applications, demands, and designs for materials. This work introduces the current effort of a collaboration aiming to assemble course components that provide materials knowledge and materials engineering concepts to students in disciplines outside of engineering. While some of the materials and engineering curriculum is taught in a lecture format; studio work is where students connect closely with the materials and properties. In the studio work, students first replicate an existing material with the limited resources and knowledge they have, learning about the material, processing, and properties (explore). Once completed, students are then asked to design a new material using their gained knowledge (innovate). Success is measured by gauging experimental breadth and innovative effort. This paper will report on the course design considerations and the results of courses introduced at the Universidad de los Andes from the Design Department, and at Carnegie Mellon University from the Materials Science Department.

Heard, R. A., & Nieman, C. J. (2018, June), Exploration and Innovation in Creative Material Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30478

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