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Preparing Materials Engineers For Cross Disciplinary Careers

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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

6.801.1 - 6.801.5

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Jeffrey Fergus

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

Session 2464

Preparing Materials Engineers for Cross-Disciplinary Careers

Jeffrey W. Fergus Auburn University


Materials engineers must design materials and processes for a wide variety of applications (e.g. from aerospace to biomedical to microelectronics to automotive) and thus must be prepared to work on cross-disciplinary problems. In response to this need, the materials engineering curriculum at Auburn University has recently been redesigned to better prepare students for these cross-disciplinary challenges. The modified curriculum enhances the cross-disciplinary experience of students in two directions - providing opportunities for materials engineers to learn other disciplines and opportunities for students from other disciplines to learn materials engineering. In the modified curriculum, materials engineering students take a nine-semester-hour (minimum) sequence in another technical discipline. Students can design individual programs based on their interests providing that the sequence builds to an advanced-level course in another discipline. The modified curriculum has also been designed so that more courses are available and appropriate for students from other disciplines. In this paper, the revised curriculum will be described and some of the issues raised by the introduction of this cross-disciplinary experience will be discussed.

I. Importance of Cross-Disciplinary Preparation

Engineering undergraduate curricula generally focus on providing students with education and training in the student’s chosen discipline. While engineers do need to develop expertise in a particular discipline, complex engineering problems require teams of individuals with complimentary experience and expertise. The effectiveness of an engineer in working on such problems can be enhanced if the engineer has had previous training in or exposure to other disciplines. In response to this need, one of the educational outcomes in Engineering Criterion 2000 is that students have an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams (Criterion 3d)1.

Materials engineers are employed in a wide variety of industries and will thus likely need to work with individuals from other disciplines. For example, materials engineering working in the microelectronics industry will need to work with electrical engineers and physicists, while those working in biomaterials will need to work with biologists and physicians. Thus, the ability to work

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

Fergus, J. (2001, June), Preparing Materials Engineers For Cross Disciplinary Careers Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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