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Integrating The Financial Aspects Of Laboratory Procedures Into Electron Microscopy Courses At A Community College And Materials Science Courses At A University

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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

Crossing the Discipline Divide!

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.795.1 - 10.795.10



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Paper Authors

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Mike Dunlap

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M.L. Meier

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

Session xxxx

Integrating the Financial Aspects of Laboratory Procedures into Electron Microscopy Courses at a Community College and Materials Science Courses at a University

Mike Meier and Mike Dunlap

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science University of California, Davis Davis, CA


Basic financial issues related to the cost of performing standard laboratory procedures and materials analyses have been incorporated into two courses in an attempt to teach students how to plan an experiment from the financial and time viewpoints. These two course involved two very different audiences (technical program students at a community college, engineering students at a research university), but in both cases the student’s responses were similar. They did not realize how much of the total cost was personnel, they consistently underestimated how much time various procedures take. Also, when planning an experiment where the cost perspective was considered, it helped them see the resource side of experimental work, not just the academic side, and it helped them manage their time better. It also helped them understand how one makes money in engineering.


Laboratory courses generally deal with laboratory procedures, data analysis and interpretation, and presenting the findings, but rarely the financial costs involved in doing this type of work. Technical and engineering managers are keenly aware of these costs, and the administration is certainly (somewhat) aware of how much laboratory courses cost, but our students generally have no idea how much the experiment they are doing costs, and how much similar work done in industry would cost. To teach this very practical and real-world aspect of their profession the authors have begun asking their students to develop budgets for their laboratory experiments, project the costs of analyses they are learning, and even manage an inventory of supplies.

Spreadsheets can be used effectively to teach engineering and scientific principles and for teaching a structured approach to problem solving. Recent efforts at integrating spreadsheets into materials science courses at U.C. Davis have been successful [1]. The one aspect that until

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

Dunlap, M., & Meier, M. (2005, June), Integrating The Financial Aspects Of Laboratory Procedures Into Electron Microscopy Courses At A Community College And Materials Science Courses At A University Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14269

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