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Materials Camp at UAB: Launching Technology to New Heights

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Outreach Activities and Introductory Materials Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.915.1 - 25.915.7



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Paper Authors


Amber L. Genau University of Alabama, Birmingham

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Amber L. Genau is an Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Iowa State University and Ph.D. from Northwestern University.

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Materials Camp at My State U: Launching Technology to New HeightsIn June of 2011, the Materials Science and Engineering Department at My State University(MSU) organized its first Materials Camp for high school students, based loosely on the modelfollowed by ASM Education Foundation-supported camps. From nearly sixty applicants, thirtystudents from twenty-two area high schools were chosen to participate. Of the twenty-four whoactually took part in the camp, 46% were female and 42% were ethnic minorities.Throughout the 3.5 day non-residential program, participants worked with faculty and graduatestudents to explore the field of materials, the possibilities available at this university, and theopportunities available for MSE graduates. As a large group, students participated in interactivelectures about high-interest topics like plastic recycling and microgravity materials research,toured the department’s large-scale processing facilities, and heard from a metallurgist workingin local industry. In smaller groups, students rotated through a variety of hands-on experiences,including slip casting, metal casting, Charpy and tensile testing, and processing of polymernanocomposites. A highlight of the program was an afternoon trip to a local steel mill.Throughout the week, the fundamental connection between structure, properties, processing andperformance was emphasized.The camp experience also included a multi-day engineering design project. Over the course ofthe first three days, students were given a crash course in composites and model rockets, beforebeing asked to design, fabricate and assemble their own rockets, using carbon or glass fibercomposites to replace the cardboard and balsa wood parts provided in a standard model rocketkit. On the final day, the rockets were tested with the help of a local rocketry club, and students’family and friends were invited to watch the launch. Local media was also invited, providingexcellent exposure for the program and the department. The rockets were judged on design,performance, and simulated cost, and prizes were awarded at a final celebratory lunch for studentparticipants, their families, and camp volunteers.The Materials Camp program came together because of intense collaboration between theprimary organizer, other department faculty members, many graduate students, severalenthusiastic undergraduate helpers, and supportive industrial partners. From recruiting andfinancing to programming and publicity, the successes, challenges, and lessons learned duringthe first year of Materials Camp at MSU will be discussed, as well as plans for the future of theprogram.

Genau, A. L. (2012, June), Materials Camp at UAB: Launching Technology to New Heights Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21672

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