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Speaker Program for the 4th North American Materials Education Symposium, 2013Read the report

You can also read a report about this Symposium and the 2013 International Symposium.

Presentations are available to registered users of the Granta Teaching Resources Website.

Thursday, March 14: Symposium, Day One


8:00 am Registration, coffee, and poster setup
8:30 am Welcome address Dr. Ron Kander
Executive Dean, Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, Philadelphia University
8:40 am Session 1:  Engaging Student Interest
Chair: Dr. Ron Kander, Philadelphia University
 8:45 am Dr. John Nychka - University of Alberta, Canada ( 20 min + 10 min Q&A)
Steel is not just Steel!
 9:15 am Prof. Deb Newberry - Dakota County Technical College, US (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
Using Simple Materials and Experiments to Enhance Student Critical Thinking
9:40 am Poster Teasers
(each poster presenter invited to give a 1-2 minute presentation using one PPT slide)
10:15 am Refreshments and introduction session
10:45 am Prof. Steve Krause - Arizona State University, US (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
Addressing Misconceptions and Difficult Concepts in Materials Classes with Muddiest Point YouTube Tutorials
11:10 am Dr. Rebecca Rosenblatt - Illinois State University, US (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
The Development of a Metals Conceptual Evaluation
11:35 am Session discussion led by the session chair and invited speaker
11:45 am Lunch and Poster Session
1:15 pm Workshop
Prof. Jonathan Stolk, Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, US
Designing Project-based Learning Experiences
2:45 pm Session 2: Emerging Opportunities: Modelling, MGI, and Research
Chair: Dr. Brian George, Philadelphia University
2:50 pm Prof. Rudy Buchheit - The Ohio State University, US (20 min + 10 min Q&A)
Integrating Databases, Visualization, Simulation and Computation into the Materials Science and Engineering Curricula
3:20 pm Refreshments and Poster Session continued
3:55 pm Dr. Adrian Hightower - Harvey Mudd College, US (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
Integrating Finite Element Modelling into Semester Long Materials Design Projects
4:20pm Dr. Steven Arnold - NASA Glenn Research Center, US (20 min + 10 min Q&A)
Observations from an Outsider
4:50 pm Session and day discussion led by the session chairs and the invited speakers
5:10 pm Concluding remarks from session chairs
5:15 pm Close


Friday, March 15: Symposium, Day Two

last updated March 6, 2013

8.00 am Registration, coffee and poster setup
8:30 am Welcome
8:30 am Session 3: Crossing Disciplines: Engineering, Design and Architecture
Chair: Dr. Kihong Ki, Philadelphia University
8:35 am Dr. Ronald D. Kander – Philadelphia University, US (20 min + 10 min Q&A)
Teaching Materials Selection to Engineering, Design, and Business Students in a Mixed Classroom: Lessons Learned
9:05 am Dr. Chad Sinclair – The University of British Columbia, Canada (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
Cross-Disciplinary Materials Selection and Applications to Environmentally Responsive Architecture
9:30 am Poster Teasers 2 (each poster presenter invited to give a 1-2 minute presentation using one PPT slide)
9:55 am Refreshments and introduction session
10:25 am Dr. Hugh Shercliff – University of Cambridge, UK (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
Property Charts for Fibre-based Materials and Products
10:50 am Workshop
Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel and Dr. Ronald D. Kander - Philadelphia University, US
Tools and Techniques to Actively Engage Students:  From Instant Design Challenges To Improve Comedy
11:50 am Session discussion led by the session chair and invited speaker
12:05 pm Lunch and Poster Session 2
1:30 pm Session 4: Crossing Disciplines: Eco Design and Sustainability
Chair: Dr. Chris Pastore, Philadelphia University
1:35 pm Prof. Mike Ashby – University of Cambridge, UK (20 min + 10 min Q&A)
What does “Sustainable” mean?  How do you assess it?
2:05 pm Prof. John Abelson – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US (20 min + 10 min Q&A)
Materials Selection for the Net-Zero Energy Home
2:35 pm Dr. Paul Eason - University of North Florida, US (15 min + 10 min Q&A)
Achieving ABET Outcomes 'h' through 'k' Using CES EduPack Eco Audit
3:00 pm Refreshments and Poster Session 2 continued
3:25 pm Dr. Chaouki Ghenai - Florida Atlantic University, US (15min + 10 min Q&A)
Incorporation of Academic Service Learning in “Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design Course” to Foster Invention and Entrepreneurship
3:50 pm Session and day discussion led by the session chairs and the invited speakers
4:10 pm Concluding remarks from session chairs
4:15 pm Introduction to the 5th North American Materials Education Symposium
Prof. John Abelson  - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US
4:30 pm Close

Posters »

Presentation Abstracts

Day One: Thursday March 14, 2013

Day One, 8:45am

Steel is not just Steel!

J. A. Nychka
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

There are an estimated 32 learning styles, yet engineering students tend to be visual learners. Engineering students require better alignment of teaching styles with their learning styles. When teaching is more in sync with learning, students tend to become more engaged. Through the creation of more effective visual teaching and learning tools (those which are portable to any institution teaching materials/metallurgy) we hope to generate more interest in the amazing behavior of steel as it relates to properties, processing, and structure, and to show that steel is not just steel. Moreover, by engaging students through visualization more effective learning is possible and increases awareness and excitement about designing with steel.

Innovations have been centralized about creating visualizations of structure-property-processing relationships in carbon steel. In particular, accessible examples and case studies with extensive data regarding materials characterization and performance for common steels has been designed. As examples: use potatoes immersed in iodine to mimic carburization and case hardening; place structural steel in a fire flashover simulator and do comparative metallography and testing to create case studies for civil engineers, posing the question, “can the steel be used if it is in a fire?”; educational posters detailing comparisons between microstructure, hardness, and heat treatments for medium carbon steels with a variety of etchants; and Silly PuttyTM analogues for pearlite.

Beta testing of the teaching materials has and will continue to be assessed using summative and formative techniques: targeted homework problems and exam questions, and anonymous student polls. Summative assessments have determined memory recall of details concerning the visual teaching tools through labelling of microconstituents, and declaration of facts. Higher order thinking skills have been assessed through open-ended design questions.

This work is funded by AISI and AIST Foundation through a FeMET Curriculum Grant. In its past two years the project has trained 7 undergraduate student researchers.

Day One, 9:15am

Using Simple Materials and Experiments
to Enhance Student Critical Thinking

D. Newberry, B. Copley
Dakota County Technical College, Rosemount, MN, USA.

Critical thinking is becoming a sought after attribute of employees.  Having good and demonstrated skills in data analysis, team work and critical thinking improve a resume independent of degree level or position sought.  This hands-on workshop will use 3 nanotechnology/materials science based experiments as the foundation for critical thinking activities.  The experiments for this presentation are used in various courses to convey the concept of priorities of forces and interactions and material properties. Breaking from the traditional approach of printed step by step instructions (often reviewed at the beginning of class) – these activities have been modified to allow students to experiment – observe – document and ponder.  Each step enhances student involvement and investigative skills.  Students are observed to move from confusion to inquiry to investigative and application as they progress through these experiments.  This approach and experiments have been used in multiple college classes.

These activities are appropriate for multiple disciplines (physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, engineering etc.) and best used in grades 11 – 14.

Day One, 10:45am

Addressing Misconceptions and Difficult Concepts in Materials Classes with Muddiest Point YouTube Tutorials

S. Krause
Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University, Temp, AZ, USA.

Critical class reflections by students on the “Muddiest Points” in an introductory materials class provide formative feedback to an instructor on students' knowledge gaps, misconceptions, and difficult concepts so that teaching strategies can be adjusted for more effective learning. Collecting at class-end the brief, anonymous, written Muddiest Point comments also allows students to reflect on their own learning over the whole class and highlight specific issues that may have arisen on a particular aspect of content, concepts or procedures related to the topic being taught. After analysing responses, differing modes of communication can provide feedback to students, but we are focusing on Muddiest Point YouTube screencasts, such as those that are located at These can be viewed by students to help resolve difficult concepts and to assist in solving homework problems and to aid in studying for tests. Addressing learning issues in a course as quickly as possible with rapid feedback is an important part of effective teaching. The feedback should be the type of information that is related to attainment of learning goals that are directed towards performing a task or understanding a concept. Such feedback is valued by students and can increase motivation and persistence in achieving the goals. Initial analytics of the statistics of video tutorial usage from the YouTube site show over 3600 hits on ten tutorial videos in a period of two months. Of those, about one quarter were in Arizona, the location of Arizona State University, another quarter in the U.S. and the remaining half in 85 other countries. Examples of the process of collecting and analysing data, creating screencasts, and assessing usefulness will be presented at the symposium along with evidence of impact on student learning, attitudes, and class persistence.

Day One, 11:10am

The Development of a Metals Conceptual Evaluation

R. Rosenblatt, A. Heckler.
Department of Physics, Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA.

This study presents the development and validation of a Metals Conceptual Evaluation or “MCE,” a 32 item assessment designed  to test student competency and identify student difficulties with metallic properties, e.g. atomic bonding, diffusion, material property terminology, strengthening, phases, and failure. The MCE was developed to complement the types of items available on the Materials Science Concept Inventory (MCI). The MCE’s design and testing took place over a three year period, involving over 1000 students at The Ohio State University. The creation of the MCE was an item driven process meaning that items were added, removed, or edited based on psychometric properties of the items, open ended student responses, student interviews while completing the test, and feedback from multiple instructors. What makes this assessment a valuable educational tool is that, as this study will show, it provides a thorough evaluation of student understanding of metals. For example, it tests a student’s understanding of the macroscopic strength of a metal and their understanding of microscopic strength of a bond within this one assessment. Via a detailed description of the overall test design process, the item development process, and several post construction measures of validity (e.g. correlations with student grade in the course, inter-item correlations and test reliability, and correlations with student use of tutorials) this presentation will demonstrate the construct and content validity of the MCE as an assessment of student understanding of metals. In addition to developing this singular assessment instrument, this presentation will elucidate the item based creational process used in developing this assessment and thus provide a replicable procedure for the future construction of assessments. Therefore, this study is of central importance in the future development of evaluations that test the efficacy of instructional reform efforts in Materials Science and Engineering.

Day One, 2:50pm

Integrating Databases, Visualization, Simulation and Computation into the Materials Science and Engineering Curricula

R. G. Buchheit, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Ohio State University will move from a quarters-based academic calendar to a semesters-based calendar beginning with the 2012 academic year. As part of this change, we have elected to revise degree program curricula in a significant manner. A key objective in our revision was to respond to elements of the Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) and Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) grand challenges pertaining to education of materials scientists and engineers. In responding to these challenges, we have developed a curriculum that attempts to integrate congruently database use, visualization, simulation and computation approaches in materials science with other core educational content. At the undergraduate level, our goal is produce graduates who are cognizant of the broad range of computational tools available to materials engineers and what they can do to solve engineering problems, and who are able to use a number of those tools proficiently to solve problems of practical importance themselves. The MSE core curriculum includes 9 credit hours (four courses), or 20% devoted to these topics. Students may take an additional 4 credit hours (two courses) in elective content on computational methods in materials science. In this presentation, details will be presented on the specific course offerings, course content, exercises, and software packages used. How the courses are postured in the curriculum will also be addressed. Hurdles we foresee will also be discussed including readiness of the students to learn and readiness of the faculty to teach this new content, software support and expense, and controls needed to prevent unnecessary proliferation of software packages in the teaching of this new content.

Day One, 3:55pm

Integrating Finite Element Modeling into Semester Long Materials Design Projects

A. Hightower
Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA, USA.

The incorporation of a semester-long Materials Selection/Design Project, assigned in parallel to skill-based materials engineering instruction, has been found to improve student’s ability to correlate material properties and performance. Students work in pairs to study a material relevant to their own interest (engineering field, senior clinic projects, undergraduate research, hobbies, etc.). Throughout the course pairs of students explore aspects of the structure, processing, properties and performance of a single material used for a specific industrial or commercial application. By the end of the semester, students have thoroughly studied a specific material sufficiently to quantitatively argue for its selection and/or provide a strategy for the design of an improved material.

Materials Selection/Design Projects are a means of evolving materials instruction from a traditional lecture based format into a design-focused, project-emphasizing course. The pedagogy of project-based learning is founded on a learning model, which shifts responsibility from the instructor as the disseminator of information to a shared responsibility of knowledge generation between the student and instructor. To enhance the project aspect of our materials course we have explore introducing Comsol (finite element simulation software) instruction in our introductory materials engineering course. Instruction in Comsol provides students with skills to make professional evaluations of a materials performance. Comsol also models a variety of material properties (mechanical, electrical, chemical, acoustic, etc.) and is thus flexible enough to support a variety of Materials Selection/Design Projects.

The Materials Selection/Design Project culminates in presentation during a final poster session. For about 50% of the class (non-seniors) this is their first opportunity to create a poster and learn about appropriate layouts, as well as how to dress and speak professionally for a poster presentation. This work presents the results of quantitative performance based course assessments as well as extended writing responses from three courses (>100 students).

Day One, 4:20pm

Observations from an Outsider

S. M. Arnold
NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, USA.

Although my educational background had very little to do with material science, I have spent the last 27 years conducting research  on the development of advanced high temperature viscoelastoplastic deformation and damage constitutive models, composite micromechanics models, and the associated multi-scale design and analysis computational tools required to make these models accessible to the engineering community. Consequently, I am an “outsider” to the material education profession. Yet I believe that my background in leading multidisciplinary teams involving both material and structurally oriented professionals and particularly in the mentoring of numerous undergraduate, graduate and post-doctorate students, from a variety of Universities, enables me to make a number of observations regarding gaps in the education and training of both professionals and students alike.  These observations will encompass such topics as:

1. Approach Matters – The art of modeling

2. The Basics Matter

3. Relationships Matter – Politics versus Technical

4. Story Matters

5. Time Matters –   Mentoring; Socratic versus Lecture

6. Words Matter

The presentation will be philosophical in nature but peppered with specific examples and illustrations to bring home the various points. Furthermore the perspective will be from the viewpoint of learning is a lifelong pursuit and doesn’t end at finding a job.

Day Two: Friday, March 14 2013

Day Two, 8:35am

Teaching Materials Selection to Engineering, Design, and Business Students in a Mixed Classroom: Lessons Learned

R. Kander
Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce Philadelphia Universit
y, PA, USA

At Philadelphia University's Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, we have combined the School of Design, the School of Engineering and the School of Business into one college with a common core curriculum.

One of the common core courses available to the students is a Materials Selection course that is taught from a systems analysis point of view using CES EduPack.  This course was piloted in the fall of 2012 and is being taught again in the spring of 2013.  In the first two offerings of this course (taught to a mixed classroom of designers, engineers and business students), many valuable insights have been uncovered about learning style differences between these three disciplines and the advantages and disadvantages of having such a divers mix of disciplines in the same classroom.  Lessons learned will be discussed and examples of teaching technique and pedagogies that worked (and examples of things that didn't work) will be discussed.  Examples of how CES EduPack helped facilitate learning among the different disciplines will also be discussed.

Day Two, 9:05am

Cross-Disciplinary Materials Selection and Applications to Environmentally Responsive Architecture

C. Sinclair
Department of Materials Engineering, The University of British Columbi
a, Vancouver, Canada

Having taught an introductory course in Materials Selection for nearly 10 years, I have had the privilege to be the point of contact for a wide range of undergraduate students interested in materials and their application.  This has pushed me to evolve my teaching style for engineering students and has brought me into contact with students outside of engineering whose interests in materials selection derive from projects in the fine arts, forestry and, most recently, architecture.  In this talk I will introduce a "just in time" teaching concept that has been studied at UBC and recently implemented in the engineering Materials Selection course.   I will particularly highlight how this technique may benefit broader access to the course's concepts for students across the campus. Finally, a very recent collaboration between materials engineering and architecture in the framework of an architecture studio  on environmentally responsive architecture will be highlighted as a particular example of cross-disciplinary materials education.  

Day Two, 10:25am

Property Charts for Fibre-based Materials and Products

H. Shercliff, C. Harvey
Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK.

Property charts guide material selection, but also make great tools for rationalising and explaining how a material's properties relate to its internal architecture and processing. This project seeks to apply these ideas to fibre-based materials and products, e.g. ropes, cables, laminated and woven composites, textiles, fabrics, paper and wood-products. These often do not fit conventional property definitions - for example, fabric strength is in N/m, and density in kg/m^2; rope strengths are in N, with a mass per unit length, kg/m. A preliminary database has been built using CES Constructor, for all fibre-based "materials". Property charts are presented that illustrate the property evolutions from bulk-to-fibre, and fibre-to-product/material, supported by micrographs of material architecture to explain "how they work". Comparisons are made with bulk materials, converted to equivalent 2D or 1D materials on the appropriate charts. And since fibre-based materials have a long history, this is also a fertile topic for using property charts to track the evolution of performance of specific products through time.

Day Two, 1:35pm

What does “Sustainable” mean?  How do you assess it?

M. Ashby
University of Cambridge, UK

“Sustainable technology” has many interpretations.  Central to all are the concepts of Natural Capital (the planet’s resources), Human Capital (the health, education and social development of the human population of the planet) and Manufactured Capital (the value of man-made institutions, infrastructure and wealth).  “Sustainability” is not a single-valued parameter that can be quantified and optimized.  Issues of sustainability are intrinsically complex; their assessment requires acceptance of this complexity and working with it.  The contemporary scientific literature contains many projects with the word “Sustainable” in the title; these articulations generally aim to support one or another of the three Capitals listed above but few support all three.  Progress is possible only with well-balanced compromise.

Introducing this complexly into teaching is challenging.  This talk will describe a framework for exploring sustainability from a Materials perspective.  It suggests a methodology for the sustainability-analysis of products or projects, supported by a new CES EduPack database, the ‘Sustainability database’, that provides some of the necessary inputs.  The method and database will be illustrated by applying them to a contemporary development – the electric car.

Day Two, 2:05pm

Designing A Net-Zero Energy Home: Multiple Tradeoffs in Materials Selection

J.R. Abelson
Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Co-Director, Energy and Sustainability Engineering (EaSE) Initiative, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

The Materials Selection for Sustainability course attracts senior and graduate students from diverse engineering backgrounds at the University of Illinois to learn the selection and optimization methods in the Materials and the Environment textbook and in CES EduPack.  Here, we report selected work of the students to evaluate the tradeoffs between materials selection choices and performance in small homes.  One of our engineering colleagues, Prof. Ty Newell, has performed extensive simulations on homes with ultra-high energy performance, and then designed and constructed his own home, Equinox House (  By virtue of complete monitoring of energy use, he has documented that this home is zero-net annual energy use at the same construction cost as an equivalent conventional home. 

The students are assigned to design zero-net energy homes in a variety of vastly different climate zones within the US.  This involves significant changes in the use of materials, especially those involved in insulation, daylighting, and solar PV power.  The tradeoffs can be viewed in terms of thermal performance, construction cost, operating cost, and human comfort.  The projected lifetime of the home also influences the choices made.  We will report salient examples and highlight the learning challenges for the students. 

A preview: did you know that for optimized insulation, the energy required to make the material of the insulation equals the energy flow (heat loss) through it over the entire lifetime of the structure?

Day Two, 2:35pm

Achieving ABET Outcomes ‘h’ through ‘k’ Using CES EduPack Eco Audit

P. Eason
Mechanical Engineering, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL, USA.

For the vast majority of engineering programs in the U.S., ABET accreditation remains the standard of validation of their degree offerings.  ABET accreditation is the recognized process by which engineering disciplines demonstrate their competence with respect to certain expected skills and traits their graduates possess, and to assess their ability to deliver these skills through analysis of feedback from direct and indirect methods.  Loss of accreditation can be crippling to a program, thus driving many institutions to form their curriculum around the ABET learning outcomes, listed as outcomes ‘a’ through ‘k’. These outcomes contain expected demonstration of rigor in mathematics and design principles, but in recent years contain “softer” skills, such as to “understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.” Demonstration of direct assessment of these outcomes through traditional engineering coursework can be difficult.

CES EduPack has been incorporated into existing courses in the mechanical engineering curriculum at the University of North Florida (UNF).   As a component of Senior Capstone Design, students receive lectures on lifecycle analysis of products, and the societal benefit of prioritizing sustainable design choices.  Students are required to address the environmental impact of all materials selected in the fabrication of their senior design projects.  Using the Eco-Audit tool, teams report design decisions made on the basis of embodied energy and CO2 output, as well as perform projected lifecycle analyses and recycling potential for all parts in the designs.  Direct assessment of the presentation of methodology and demonstration of attention to eco factors permits a direct assessment tool for many of the ‘h’ through ‘k’ outcomes that  Project work from both senior design projects will be presented to demonstrate success of this approach.

Day Two, 3:25pm

Incorporation of Academic Service Learning in “Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design Course” to Foster Invention and Entrepreneurship

C. Ghenai
Ocean and Mechanical Engineering Department, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL, USA.

The principal objectives are to modify an existing engineering course at the College of Engineering to include the Academic Service Learning (ASL) and Entrepreneurship Opportunities (EO). The “Sustainable Engineering and Eco Design” multidisciplinary course that focus on Materials, Energy, Environment, Health and Safety issues is selected for this study.  The goal is to develop engineering service learning model with entrepreneurial opportunities. The incorporation of Academic Service Learning in the Sustainable Engineering Course will extend students learning beyond the classroom. The ASL provides the students the opportunity to work in a group and learn, develop, and reflect through active participation and community involvement. It relates academic content and course objectives to issues in the community. This will align educational objectives with community partner’s needs. The students will have the opportunity to select, design, implement, and evaluate their service activity, encouraging relevancy and sustained interest. This will also help to foster student invention and entrepreneurship: move from academic exercises to solve critical problems and develop real life business interactions. The students will use what they learned in this course to solve real life problems through course projects. Many of these projects contain market potential and favorable conditions for entrepreneurial opportunities. The students will have the opportunity to work with engineering and business faculties and industry mentors to bring the product to market and stimulate the economy.