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Redesigning A Junior Level Materials Processing Laboratory Course To Aid Students In Applying Theory To Practice

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Emerging Issues in Materials Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1017.1 - 14.1017.10



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Paper Authors


Diane Folz Virginia Tech

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Diane Folz is a Senior Research Associate and Laboratory Instructor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Virginia Tech. She also is the faculty advisor for the Material Advantage Student Professional Organization and of the Journal of Undergraduate Materials Research (JUMR). In addition to teaching the materials processing laboratories, she mentors at least one team each year in their senior capstone project.

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Christine Burgoyne Virginia Tech

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Christine Bala Burgoyne is the Assistant Director and Instructor of the Communications Program for the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM). Concurrent to this appointment, she serves as the publications liaison for MSE and the newsletter editor for ESM. She has an M.A. in English from Virginia Tech and B.A. in English Studies: Language from the University of the Philippines. Prior to her appointment, she was a member of the junior faculty at the University of the Philippines, Department of English and Comparative Literature, where she taught freshman composition and literature, introduction to linguistics, and phonology and morphology.

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Janis Terpenny Virginia Tech

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Janis Terpenny is an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Education, and an affiliate faculty of Industrial & Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech. She is Director of the Center for e-Design, a multi-university NSF I/UCRC center. Her research focuses on methods and representation schemes for early design process and on engineering design education. She was previously faculty at the University of Massachusetts and worked at General Electric (GE), including the completion of a two-year management program. She is a member of ASEE, ASME, IIE, and Alpha Pi Mu and is the Design Economics area editor for The Engineering Economist and the Associate Editor for the ASME Journal of Mechanical Design.

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Richard Goff Virginia Tech

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Richard Goff is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of the Department of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is also the Director of the Frith Freshman Engineering Design Laboratory and the Faculty Advisor of the VT Mini-Baja Team. He is actively involved in bringing joy and adventure to the educational process and is the recipient of numerous University teaching awards.

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

Re-designing a Junior-Level Materials Processing Laboratory Course to Aid Students in Applying Theory to Practice


A junior-level materials engineering laboratory course has been re-designed to broaden the experiences of undergraduates in areas such as teaming and collaboration, written and oral communication skills, problem solving and the engineering design process. The re-design also incorporates more modern ceramic engineering processing methods. It is anticipated that the re- designed course will better prepare students to succeed; the premise being that providing such learning opportunities sooner and more often will improve student knowledge and confidence in applying theory to practice. This paper reports on the re-designed course and its effectiveness in meeting the learning outcomes.

The course is built on a prerequisite laboratory in which characterization methods were introduced through the evaluation of metals in a semester-long evaluation project. In the course under discussion, various processing methods were taught in the first few weeks, after which a seven-week design project based on one or more of these techniques was developed by teams consisting of three to five students. The problem presented to the students was to develop a project that illustrated the impact of processing on the properties of the materials. Teams were required to design both the technical and managerial aspects of the project. The teams were evaluated through the use of two written reports, periodic class presentations (evaluated by both the students and the instructor) and a final report prepared in the form of a journal paper. Student authors were given the opportunity to submit their manuscripts to the Journal of Undergraduate Materials Research (JUMR) for consideration. The assessment of individual student performance was in the form of quizzes, teammate assessment and class participation.

In addition to assessing the impacts on student learning and engagement for the re-designed course, this paper also reports on future plans to conduct follow-on research to assess the impacts the re-designed course may have on the senior year capstone design experience.


The beginning of the 2006 academic year marked the first semester of a re-design of the curriculum in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at Virginia Tech to consolidate three individual laboratories into two. The original three courses focused on individual materials classifications (polymers, metals and ceramics) and the two new courses were to change the emphasis to characterization (second-semester sophomores) and processing (first-semester juniors) of materials. Laboratory courses demanded significant time investments by the students and faculty as well as the need to equip and maintain laboratories specific to the materials classifications. Additionally, while introductory courses existed in each of these materials categories, the laboratories were not tied directly to the core course materials. This fact allowed for a change to the laboratory courses without significant impact on the content or quality of the lecture courses.

Folz, D., & Burgoyne, C., & Terpenny, J., & Goff, R. (2009, June), Redesigning A Junior Level Materials Processing Laboratory Course To Aid Students In Applying Theory To Practice Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4682

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