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Supplementary Learning Methods In Materials Science Education

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Introductory Materials Science for the 21st Century

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Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1332.1 - 12.1332.12



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Paper Authors


Dhananjay Kumar North Carolina A&T State University

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DHANANJAY KUMAR is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Holding a joint research position with Oak Ridge National Lab, Prof. Kumar teaches courses related to the science, characterization and processing of advanced materials. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology - Mumbai. He is a prolific researcher, with two major NSF grants (NER and NIRT) as PI.

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Devdas Pai North Carolina A&T State University

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DEVDAS M. PAI is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NC A&T State University and Associate Director (Operations) of the Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures. He teaches manufacturing processes and tribology related courses. A registered Professional Engineer in North Carolina, he serves on the Mechanical PE Exam Committee of the National Council of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and is active in several divisions of ASEE and in ASME.

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Cindy Waters North Carolina A&T State University

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CYNTHIA WATERS is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering at NC A&T State University and a Research Associate with the Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures. She received her Ph.D. from NC A&T State University. She teaches the introductory Materials Science course required of all engineering undergraduates.

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Jagannathan Sankar North Carolina A&T State University

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Jagannathan Sankar is a University Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NC A&T State University and Director of the Center for Advanced Materials and Smart Structures (CAMSS). He is a recipient of the White House Millennium Award for Teaching and Research Excellence in Mathematics, Science, Engineering and Technology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and his area of research is advanced materials.

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

Supplementary Learning Methods in Materials Science Education

Abstract The mechanical engineering curriculum in our department contains two required materials courses, supplemented with several technical elective courses dealing with the state of the art in advanced materials. We are involved in the introductory materials science course and in the technical elective courses. A newly-developed technical elective course Thin and Thick Films is designed for students seeking to learn about one of the most important branches of materials science, namely the science and technology of materials in the form of films. This paper reports our experiences and approaches in achieving the course objectives more effectively by means of using supplementary learning methods including pre-quizzes, multidisciplinary learning through extramural speakers and off-campus lab visits, and service learning.

1. Introduction

Teaching is an unnatural act, an incursion on another person's learning-in-progress. In particular, demonstrating the gee-whiz applications for new materials in trendy commercial products that are smaller or faster or just plain better-designed is the glamorous side of teaching materials science. The challenge lies in delivering along with the applications the underlying science and math principles needed to understand materials topics that strike terror at first glance in many novices’ hearts, such as crystal structure and phase diagrams. Therefore, it is necessary for the study material to be approachable, yet interesting. It is truly challenging to keep the instruction from getting boring and yet accomplish the course objectives in their entirety. This paper discusses our experiences and lessons learned by the introduction of supplementary learning and assessment methods. These include teaming of undergraduate with graduate students, multidisciplinary learning, and the use of a ‘Materials Concept Inventory’, service learning through providing tours and lectures to K-12 students and prospective college students as well as outreach visits to local schools. The outreach provided them opportunities to showcase their knowledge of thin film technology and application of thin films based devices in day-to-day life. The students have personally expressed their satisfaction with the course content and objective. This conclusion is also supported by the data from the “Student Course Content Evaluation” survey we use for ABET outcomes assessment in the ME curriculum.

2. Course Description and Learning Methods

2.1 Materials Science Course: There are presently two required courses in materials science for all mechanical engineering majors. The first course, Materials Science (MEEN 260), is offered at the sophomore level. This is a two-credit introductory course on materials science and also serves as a service course for chemical and industrial engineering students. The second course, namely MEEN 460: Modern Engineering Materials, is a three-credit advanced course on the engineering rather than the science aspects of materials and taken by students at junior and senior levels majoring in Mechanical Engineering. This paper presents our experiences with the MEEN 260 course. The foremost objective of this course is to introduce fundamental concepts in materials science by making students learn material structure, how structure dictates properties, and how processing can change structure. The course also intends to enable the students with

Kumar, D., & Pai, D., & Waters, C., & Sankar, J. (2007, June), Supplementary Learning Methods In Materials Science Education Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2536

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