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1997 TMS Annual Meeting: Tuesday Session


Sponsored by: TMS Education Committee
Program Organizers: Anthony D. Rollett, Materials Science & Engineering Dept., Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213; Martin A. Crimp, Dept. of Materials Science and Mechanics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824

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Room: 340D

Session Chairperson: Anthony D. Rollett, Materials Science & Engineering Dept., Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

8:30 am INVITED

CURRICULUM DESIGN; INPUTS AND OUTPUTS: Richard Heckel, Dept. of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering, Michigan Technological Univ., 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931

Undergraduate engineering curricula are designed by faculty committees in accord with accrediting guidelines for content, logical course sequencing and practical limitations for scheduling faculty and laboratory resources. Presently, engineering education is receiving intense scrutiny due to several decades of large tuition increases, continuous enrollment declines since the early '80s, constraints in external research support and decreases in the number of employment opportunities for graduates. These trends have already resulted in proposals for new curriculum designs which would, for example, reduce credits needed for graduation, sacrifice discipline-specific content and increase multidisciplinary activities. Presumably, such curricula would broaden appeal, increase engineering enrollments, widen the range of career opportunities and stimulate interest in industrial interactions. Can such curricula provide the optimum balance between the new educational boundary conditions and quality engineering education? To what extent should curriculum design emphasize graduate/employer feedback, student/parent expectations, instructional philosophy/methodology and general skill development (communication, self-directed learning, open-ended problem solving, ethical decision making, etc.)? Tradeoffs and opportunities associated with these issues will be discussed.

9:00 am

THE MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CORE CURRICULUM AT VIRGINIA TECH: R.W. Hendricks, R.S. Gordon, Virginia Tech, MSE Dept., Blacksburg, VA 24061-0237

We have developed a core curriculum for an ABET-approved Materials Science and Engineering curriculum incorporating 8 required core courses, options in each of the 5 principle fields (ceramics, composites, electronic materials, metallurgy and polymers), and developed an integrated "across-the-curriculum" approach to writing and communication, ethics, and statistics. Our required core courses, each with laboratory, include physical ceramics, physical metallurgy, electronic materials, and polymer engineering. These "material specific" courses are supported by three material-independent courses including X-ray diffraction, thermodynamics and transport processes, and by a capstone engineering design course based on a research project. Oral, written, and graphical communication, statistics, and ethics and integrated in a manner such that the student is led from fundamental concepts through to sophisticated interpretation of each topic. The student is exposed to these "across-the-curriculum" topics during each semester of the three year program of study beginning with the sophomore year.

9:25 am

MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING: THE NEW UNDERGRADUATE CURRICULUM AT DREXEL UNIVERSITY: Alan Lawley, Dept. of Materials Engineering, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104

In 1994 the new undergraduate Drexel Engineering Curriculum was implemented, emphasizing 'up front' engineering, computer and communication skills, life long learning and teamwork. This common core in the first two years reflects many of the tenets and the philosophy of the E4 experiment ('Enhanced Educational Experience for Engineering Students') which began in 1988. Concurrently, the Department of Materials Engineering has been proactive in the Gateway Coalition, a major component of which is to build on E4 by focusing on the upper level curriculum via the development of advanced engineering science courses. Our new undergraduate major, enacted in 1995, reflects the maturing of the E4 experiment into the core Drexel Engineering Curriculum and the integration of selected engineering science courses (developed under the Gateway Coalition) into the curriculum at the upper level. Evolution of the new curriculum is discussed, including the development of modules in materials education.

9:50 am

MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING CURRICULA; RETHINKING THE CORE CONTENT - THE CASE FOR A 128 HOUR CORE: Richard L. Porter, Campus Box 7904, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7904

Most materials educators agree that three major components constitute the undergraduate materials science and engineering curriculum; that presented in the first 2-3 semesters (generally the basic sciences), the real "core," and finally the obligatory senior design or capstone experience. Scattered throughout will be the necessary humanities and social sciences, maybe a communications course or technical writing course. It is assummed that the mathematics, chemistry, physics, and writing have been properly and correctly introduced and students' have mastered the content. There are several problems with this approach; little if any experiential learning, little if any contextual learning for the basic sciences, little integration of engineering sciences with the basic sciences, and in many cases a disconnected core. Although all curricula meet and or exceed ABET criteria, there is little accountability for the actual content and methodology of presenting the material. This paper discusses the entire curricula in context with the intended outcome for materials science and engineering and encourages curricular designers to rethink the entire learning experience, not to simply add more courses for short term accomplishments. At North Carolina State University, our approach has been to introduce different models for first year engineering, ranging from a hands-on engineering experience linked with freshmen writing, an integrated approach pulling together math, chemistry, and physics, with a year year engineering overview, and recently a new freshmen course linked with the computer literacy course and including a weekly small-group problem solving session. Concurrently, we have administered an attitudes survey at the beginning of the year and again at the end of the semester and year. Students enrolled in these special courses report a greater interest in engineering as a problem solving discipline, they view engineering as an iterative process, and report a higher degree of satisfaction with their first year experiences. Finally, a curriculum will be presented and discussed that builds upon the fundamental basic sciences and integrates the curriculum rather than present it as a linear combination of sub-disciplines.

10:15 am INVITED

INDUSTRIAL EXPECTATION OF A MATERIALS EDUCATION: AN AUTOMOTIVE VIEW: R. Heimbuch, D. Mattis. J. Hall, General Motors, 30300 Mound Road, A/MD-36, Warren, MI 48090-9040

Competitive pressures have caused the automotive industry to critically examine and modify their engineering processes. The new engineering processes have put a higher value on certain skill sets than in the past. The need for technical competence has not changed - it is a given. The question for the Education Community is how to maintain a strong balanced technical framework while developing other critical skills. The goal should be to enhance the effectiveness of the student as he or she moves into and through their professional career. The authors will share their views around the critical question of "balance" and "critical skills".

10:45 am


There is a broad recognition at IIT that we live in a time of revolutionary change in undergraduate education. In response, we are developing new ways to recruit and retain a diverse student body, seeking educational relationships with industry, experimenting with new approaches to teaching and learning, and positioning ourselves to meet ABET engineering criteria for the year 2000. The key elements of the undergraduate education restructuring will be presented. They include, but are not limited to, such initiatives as: Interprofessional Projects, project-oriented learning that teams students from different disciplines and professions and constitutes a new instructional tool though which students learn concepts of teamwork, communication and problem solving; Introduction to the Professions, a freshman-level course that in an innovative way bridges the gap between high school experience and the university's environment; Writing Across Curriculum, an institutional structure for integrating writing into engineering courses. Our attempts to increase computer competence, introduce multimedia in the classroom and create undergraduate research opportunities will also be discussed.

11:10 am

EFFECTIVE USE OF A SMALL FACULTY FOR MAINTENANCE OF A COMPREHENSIVE MATERIALS ENGINEERING PROGRAM: Jeffrey W. Fergus, Materials Research and Education Center, 201 Ross Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849

A recent analysis of the materials/metallurgical engineering programs at U.S. universities shows that these programs can be divided into three, approximately equal, groups in terms of faculty size. Specifically, there are 24 programs with 21-90 faculty, 23 programs with 13-20 faculty and 25 programs with 3-12 faculty. The small number of faculty in this latter group presents challenges in terms of maintaining a comprehensive (undergraduate, graduate, research) materials program. This presentation will relate experience with the materials engineering program at Auburn University, which has 7 full-time faculty, in meeting these challenges. In addition, the contribution of these small programs to the materials engineering discipline as a whole will be discussed.

11:35 am

TITLE TBA: Samuel Allen, Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering, Mass. Inst. of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139

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