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Integrated Materials Science Lab Experiences In A Mechanical Engineering Curriculum

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session


Page Count


Page Numbers

10.778.1 - 10.778.7

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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 2166

Integrated Materials Science Lab Experiences in a Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Chris Byrne Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green Kentucky


This paper describes the ongoing efforts to teach materials science in two different courses within a mechanical engineering program at Western Kentucky University. The WKU mechanical engineering curriculum has several components that are integrated experiences over multiple semesters. The objectives for integration of experiences is to provide an alternative to the model where courses are simply information continuums yet are distinct and often not fluid in transition. Integration in the WKU mechanical engineering program also includes an experimental component and a professional component. The courses described here relate primarily to the integrated delivery of the materials engineering topics within the program. However, as a result of the integrated curriculum, the courses also contribute to the experimental and communications aspects of the curriculum.

Mechanical engineering students with diverse academic backgrounds are introduced to the fundamentals of engineering materials in both lecture and laboratory settings as freshman. That lab experience is then complimented in the sophomore year in a lab connected to the course titled mechanics of deformable bodies. This strength of materials lab provides experiences that connect the mechanics concepts being learned with materials property testing. Deliverables from the lab course are established to develop a professional communication style where both theory and experimental analysis are valued highly.

Course objectives and lab experiences in both the freshman and sophomore lab courses are described and presented in the context of the mechanical engineering curriculum. The objective of this paper is to present the courses and to demonstrate the challenges and successes in implementing the integrated plan. Challenges include delivery to students with limited experimental backgrounds. Successes include improved satisfaction by the students since they actually practice the concepts being taught. Approaches used for continual course improvement are also reviewed.

I. Introduction

The traditional undergraduate mechanical 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

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Byrne, C. (2005, June), Integrated Materials Science Lab Experiences In A Mechanical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon.

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