Asee peer logo

Materials Chemistry For Freshmen

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.700.1 - 6.700.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Elliot Douglas University of Florida

Download Paper |

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

Session 1664

Materials Chemistry for Freshmen

Elliot P. Douglas University of Florida


We have developed a new Materials Chemistry course for freshmen with the goal of improving retention in the engineering program. This Materials Chemistry course is fundamentally different from other introductory materials courses in that it does not cover the standard introductory materials curriculum (diffusion, strengthening mechanisms, eutectic phase diagrams, etc.). Rather, its goal is to teach engineering applications of fundamental chemistry concepts. This course consists of four basic units: atomic, molecular and supermolecular structures; synthesis and processing; stability of materials; and biological materials. Each of these units consists of topics designed to show how fundamental concepts in chemistry can be applied to engineering problems. For example, liquid crystal display technology is used to teach the concept of molecular shape. The course also contains a laboratory section. This paper will describe the detailed contents of the course and its relation to the engineering curriculum.

1. Introduction

There is a growing awareness of the need to introduce freshmen, who have declared engineering as a major, to engineering concepts. In the traditional curriculum, the freshman year is devoted to sciences and humanities, with little, if any, engineering content. In response, a number of approaches have been developed, including engineering survey courses,1 freshman design courses,2-6 and courses that focus on basic skills required of engineering students.7

Of particular interest to this paper are efforts to created integrated curricula in the freshman year.8 These curricula attempt to integrate basic science (e.g. chemistry, physics, math) with engineering. The approach may involve individual courses, blocks of courses, or an entire freshman curriculum. Results suggest that these approaches are successful, resulting in higher retention and higher grade point averages. The attractiveness of this approach with regards to materials engineering has been noted in a report from the National Science Foundation,9 which concludes that "the attractiveness of chemistry and physics…could be enhanced by greater emphasis on materials-related topics which would help students better relate their studies to the 'real world'."

With this in mind, we have developed a new course, titled Materials Chemistry. The goal of this course is to provide engineering applications of basic chemistry concepts at the freshman level. This paper describes the role of this course within the engineering curriculum at the University of Florida and a description of the course content.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Douglas, E. (2001, June), Materials Chemistry For Freshmen Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015