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The Evolution of Engineering Materials

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Materials Division Technical Session

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Amber L. Genau University of Alabama at Birmingham

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Dr. Amber Genau is an assistant professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She received her B.S. and M.S. from Iowa State University and Ph.D. from Northwestern University, all in materials engineering. Before coming to UAB, Dr. Genau spent two years as a guest scientist at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne, Germany, working on metal solidification and microstructural characterization. She is particularly interested in broadening participation in engineering and providing international experiences and perspectives to undergraduate students.

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The author has developed an upper level engineering elective entitled “The Evolution of Engineering Materials.” The course considers how the discovery of new materials and the ability of process materials in new ways has influenced the course of history, shaping both human societies and their surrounding environments. The class begins in the Stone Age and moves forward in time through the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution, and the Modern Era. Students become familiar with a variety of still-relevant technical content through the consideration of historical activity, from smelting and coking to polymerization reactions and cross linking. In addition, the course addresses a variety of ABET outcomes, particularly by providing (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.

The paper will provide an outline of the course topics and assigned readings, which include modern texts, primary sources from the 12th through the 20th centuries and studies of archaeological materials. It will describe the major assessments within the class, which are oral presentations and research papers, both done on topics of interest selected individually by the students. Also discussed with be the use of a new, collaborative, online annotation tool for reading assignments. Although this course was developed for and taught in the context of a three week study abroad trip to Europe, the engaging and accessible nature of the content could also make it valuable as a service course for non-engineering majors. The course is currently serving as the inspiration for a new collaborative effort between the School of Engineering and the history department on the author’s campus.

Genau, A. L. (2017, June), The Evolution of Engineering Materials Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28967

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