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Incorporating Active Learning and Sustainable Engineering Concepts into a Required Materials Class

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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 2

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Paper Authors


William M. Jordan Baylor University

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William Jordan is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Baylor University. He has B.S. and M.S. degrees in metallurgical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, an M.A. degree in theology from Denver Seminary, and a Ph.D. in mechanics and materials from Texas A & M University. He teaches materials-related courses and does research with natural fiber composite materials. He is also interested in entrepreneurship,sustainable engineering, and appropriate technology in developing countries.

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In our Mechanical Engineering program we have a required materials engineering course taken during the junior year. This paper describes two modules that have been added to this course dealing with sustainable materials engineering. Active learning techniques were used to introduce these topics.

The first module was learning about how a material’s structure affects its properties. This topic followed two lectures, the first one of them was about the internal structure of different materials. The second one was about materials and the circular economy which looked at such issues as recyclability and biodegradability. The class examined the materials used in baseball bats. Students were broken into three different material groups. They had to research the relationship between structure and properties for that bat material. They also had to research sustainability related issues such as recycling and whether the bat material was renewable. The students were then put in different teams that included at least one expert for each material. Each group then had to recommend what bat to recommend from a performance perspective and from a sustainable perspective. Different groups were given different targeted customers (such as major league baseball, college baseball, and youth baseball). This resulted in different groups making different conclusions as to the best bat for their audience. Each group had to make a report using one Powerpoint slide. Many groups were also allowed to make oral presentations.

The second module was corrosion. After a general lecture about the eight forms of corrosion, students were broken into groups. The theme of this section was corrosion in daily life. Student groups were asked to go around campus and photograph something that was corroded. They were then asked to create a report on one Powerpoint slide. On the slide they showed their photograph, what form of corrosion was shown, and how could this corrosion have been prevented. This led to a class discussion about sustainable metals. They had to deal with issues such as recyclability of different metals.

Several different assessment approaches were used. Students did peer assessments of the oral presentations. The professor also assessed the oral presentations and all of the slide reports. At the end of the semester the students were asked to assess how well they learned the content of these modules compared to that of the rest of the course. By very large majorities they reported they learned this active learning content better. One suggested change would be to have all groups make presentations. This probably would create a better learning experience for all. However, one of the sections where this was taught had 91 students in it and there was not time for everyone to present. This could be done if the class was smaller.

Jordan, W. M. (2018, June), Incorporating Active Learning and Sustainable Engineering Concepts into a Required Materials Class Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30641

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