Materials Education Symposia - Home

2015 Program (Archived Information)
6th North American Materials Education Symposium

2015 Theme:
Innovation, computation, simulation, and visualization in
materials-related education

Talks and poster sessions allowed educators to share ideas and resources for materials-related teaching. There was no restriction based on particular approaches or the use of any particular resources.

Symposium Day One: Thursday, March 26

time session
8.00 am Registration, Coffee, and Poster setup
8.45 am Prof. Rudy Buchheit – Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University
Prof. Mike Ashby – Engineering, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom 
Mr. Marc Fry – Director, Education Division, Granta Design, United Kingdom
Welcome Address
Chairs: Prof. Rudy Buchheit and Mr. Marc Fry
9.00 am Session Introduction
9.05 am Dr. Cyrus Wadia – Former Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Materials R&D at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
The Materials Genome Initiative Opening a New Frontier in Materials Education
9.30 am Prof. Alejandro Strachan – School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University
nanoHUB: Cloud Scientific Computing in Materials Education and Research
9.55 am Poster Teasers
15 x Poster Presenters invited to give a two minute presentation
10.30 am Poster Session
11.15 am Prof. Richard LeSar – Materials Science and Engineering, Iowa State University
Introducing Computational Materials Science in the Graduate and Undergraduate Curriculum
11.40 am Dr. Susan Gentry – Materials Science and Engineering, University of Michigan
Implementing Computational Modules into Undergraduate Curriculum
12.00 pm Dr. Tanya Faltens – Network for Computational Nanotechnology, Purdue University
Development of a Molecular Dynamics Simulation Lab on nanoHUB to Enhance Student Understanding of the Atomic Nature of Plastic Deformation
12.20 pm Prof. Peter Anderson – Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University
Integration of Computational Laboratories with Undergraduate Curriculum: Successes and Lessons Learned
12.40 pm Session discussion led by the session chair
1.00 pm Lunch
Chairs: Dr. Mark DeGuire and Mr. Justin Diles
2.00 pm Session Introduction
2.05 pm Prof. James Shackelford – Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of California, Davis
Teaching Materials Science And Engineering Online: Challenges and Opportunities
2.30 pm Prof. Lorna Gibson – Materials Science and Engineering, MIT
Mechanical Behavior of Materials on MITx
2.55 pm Dr. Mary Vollaro – Mechanical Engineering, Western New England University
A Model for Senior Design Projects = Student’s personal interest + Materials selection methodology
3.15 pm Dr. Yawen Li – Biomedical Engineering, Lawrence Technological University
Enhancing undergraduate biomaterials education through active/collaborative learning and problem-based learning
3.35 pm Poster Session continued
Coffee/Afternoon Tea
4.00 pm Mr. Justin Diles, Knowlton School of Architecture, The Ohio State University
Large and Light: Volumetric Architectural Construction with Plastics
4.20 pm Mr. Charlie Spahr – The American Ceramic Society
Meeting the Talent and Training Needs of the Ceramic and Glass Industries
4.40 pm Dr. Jerry Floro – Materials Science and Engineering, University of Virginia
Few Stones Left Unturned: Reorienting an Introduction to Materials Science Course Towards Significant Learning
5.00 pm Session discussion led by the session chair
5.20 pm Concluding remarks
5.30pm Close

Symposium Day Two: Friday, March 27

time session
8.30 am Registration and coffee
Chairs: Dr. Alison Polasik and Dr. Jerry Floro
9.00 am Session Introduction
9.15 am Prof. Mike Ashby – Engineering, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom 
Materials and Maps
9.40 am Dr. John Nychka – Chemical & Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada
Decoding Complexity & Complications in Materials Design
10.05 am Poster Teasers
10 x Poster Presenters invited to give a two minute presentation
10.30 am Poster Session
11.15 am Dr. Ronald Kander – Kanbar College of Design, Engineering and Commerce, Philadelphia University
Innovation: Why, How & What
11.40 am Dr. Carlos Moreno – Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco, Mexico
The Laboratory of Structural Models an Alternative Didactic Project
12.00 pm Dr. Pnina Ari-Gur – Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering, Western Michigan University  
Transforming Material Education for Non Majors using Video Game Style Virtual Laboratory
12.20 pm Mr. Jacob Gines – Architecture, Art, and Design, Mississippi State University
Fab Wars: tools, tolerances, and techniques
12.40 pm Session discussion led by the session chair
13.00 pm Lunch
Chairs: Dr. Ronald Kander and Prof. Pete Anderson
2.00 pm Session Introduction
2.05 pm Prof. Thomas Graedel – Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
The Periodic Table of Criticality
2.30 pm Prof. Michael Cadwell – Knowlton School of Architecture, The Ohio State University
Sustainable Architecture Broadly Considered
2.55 pm Dr. Mark De Guire – Materials Science and Engineering, Case Western Reserve University
A New Upper - level Engineering Course, “Materials for Energy and Sustainability”
3.15 pm Dr. Claes Fredriksson – Education Division, Granta Design, Cambridge, United Kingdom
An Interactive and Visual Tool for Sustainable use of Materials in Engineering Design
3.35 pm Coffee/Afternoon Tea
4.00 pm Dr. Andrew Heckler – Physics, The Ohio State University
Improving basic and essential skills through brief, spaced practice
4.20 pm Mr. Andrew Nydam – Ohio Mathematics and Science Partnership Program
Materials Science and Technology in the High School Classroom:  A Report on the Math and Science Partnership
4.40 pm Introduction to 7th North American Materials Education Symposium
5.00 pm Session and day discussion led by the session chairs
5.20 pm Prof. Rudy Buchheit – Materials Science and Engineering, The Ohio State University
Prof. Mike Ashby – Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK 
Concluding remarks
5.30 pm Close

Presentation Abstracts

The Materials Genome Initiative Opening a New Frontier in Materials Education

Dr. Cyrus Wadia, Former Assistant Director for Clean Energy and Materials R&D at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Dr. Wadia will discuss the Obama Administration¹s new efforts to spur innovation in advanced materials. He will introduce and describe the design and launch of the Materials Genome Initiative, an effort launched by President Obama in 2011 that has already mobilized over $400 million of Federal funding reaching more than 500 research scientists across 200 companies, universities, and national labs who are defining the cutting edge in materials.

nanoHUB: Cloud Scientific Computing in Materials Education and Research

Alejandro Strachan, School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University, USA
Tanya A. Faltens, Network for Computational Nanotechnology, Purdue University, USA

The integration of data from physics-based simulations and experiments within a decision-making framework has the potential to revolutionize the discovery, optimization and certification of materials. Transforming this vision into a reality requires the rapid dissemination of cutting-edge research codes to instructors who are training the next generations of engineers and scientists and to researchers who can use these tools for design and optimization. nanoHUB’s cyber-infrastructure empowers simulation tool developers to make their codes universally accessible and useful via cloud computing and empowers users who can run hundreds of tools using a web-browser or iPad, free of charge, and without the need to download or install any software nor to provide compute cycles.

Over 300,000 users from around the world use nanoHUB resources every year and 13,000+ of them perform online simulations. This talk will illustrate how lowering the barrier to using powerful simulations is enabling a wave of innovation in materials education. Simulations traditionally restricted to expert users are now enabling undergraduate students to develop a more intuitive understanding of how materials look and work on the atomic scale. Examples include the use of molecular dynamics to understand plastic deformation in metals and density functional calculations to learn about electronic structure and bonding in semiconductors. In addition to making simulation tools accessible to any user with access to the internet, nanoHUB offers educational material ranging from short learning modules to full courses integrated within a course management infrastructure. Instructors have access to a powerful organizational structure for presenting content that includes forums for threaded discussions, a gradebook that monitors student progress, a mechanism for self-testing, and a projects module where student teams can collaborate, plan and execute course projects. Instructors can benefit from the existing materials and also contribute their own resources to reach nanoHUB’s global audience.

Introducing Computational Materials Science in the Graduate and Undergraduate Curriculum

Richard LeSar, Iowa State University, USA

I am interested in introducing the basic concepts and methodologies of computational materials science to a broad set of materials students at both the graduate and undergraduate level. My hope is that it will help attract and prepare the next generation of materials modelers, whether modeling is their principal focus or not.  To that end, I recently published a textbook, Introduction to Computational Materials Science, and have been asked to discuss the book and its use in the classroom.

The book is intended for upper-level undergraduates and graduate students.  Reflecting the nature of materials research, the text covers a wide range of topics, spanning the time and length scales of materials from electronic structure calculations to atomistic simulations to many methods at the mesoscale. The text reflects many tradeoffs: breadth versus depth, pedagogy versus detail, topic versus topic.  The intent was to provide a sufficient background in the theory of materials modeling and simulation methods that the student can begin to apply them to their study of materials.  That said, it is not a “computation” book ­­­‑ details of how to implement these methods are not discussed in the text itself, but are available in a series of online exercises.

In this talk, I will discuss the reasoning behind the structure and organization of the text and its use in the classroom.  I will also discuss potential changes that are currently being considered for a second edition, including, for example, chapters on informatics and the structure of Integrated Computational Materials Engineering.  I welcome comments, suggestions, criticisms and advice as I plan for the next version.

Implementing Computational Modules into Undergraduate Curriculum

Susan Gentry, Larry Aagesen, Katsuyo Thornton, University of Michigan, USA
Mark Asta, University of California, USA

Computational approaches have transformed many scientific and engineering disciplines in the last decade. While the complexity of the physics and multiscale nature of materials makes modeling challenging, modern methods of computational materials science are also beginning to produce widespread impact in the design and development of new materials. In response to the needs and challenges raised by the community, as well as surveys published in Journal of Materials and a report generated by National Academy of Engineering, we have established the “Summer School for Integrated Computational Materials Education,” a two-week program that includes a “crash course” on computational materials science and engineering (MSE) and focus sessions on educational modules that can be adopted into existing MSE core courses. Specifically, we have developed modules that can be integrated into existing undergraduate-level thermodynamics, kinetics, physics of materials, and mechanics of materials courses. Using these modules, the summer school aims to “educate the educators.” 

Implementation of the modules in the undergraduate curriculum at the University of Michigan will be discussed. These modules have been incorporated as stand-alone laboratory exercises in both the required junior laboratory course and an elective computational materials science course. Additionally, some of the modules have been integrated with experimental laboratory activities, comparing results between computational and experimental techniques. For example, computational thermodynamics was added to the metallography, microstructure and microscopy module. Students now compare the predicted phase fractions with the experimentally measured phase fractions. Similarly, mechanical behavior tests have been supplemented with finite-element modeling using COMSOL. Lessons learned from adapting the modules will also be presented.

The Laboratory of Structural Models: An alternative didactic project

 Carlos Moreno Antonio Abad, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana-Azcapotzalco, Mexico

This paper introduces the didactic project of the Laboratory of Structural Models at the Metropolitan Autonomous University (UAM) in Mexico City, which aims to improve the efficiency of teaching subjects related to structural behavior dealing with the Architecture and Civil Engineering programs.

The philosophy behind the work developed at this laboratory shows the building structures as an intrinsic part of the architectural formal expression, and not something that is superimposed at later stages of the project. This way, a better understanding of structural phenomena provides additional elements for more creative liberty.

As a concrete and important issue of this approach, the application of physical experimental models is considered especially useful for better understanding of performance in materials and structural systems, where theory and mathematical formulas are supplemented and explained by means of didactic strategies that involve operation of physical devices in a playful fashion. This concept is quite different than a materials testing laboratory.

For over 12 years, similar methodology has been applied in the design and development of more than 60 educational prototypes in order to cover most of the topics of the syllabus (statics, strength of materials, structural design and other) which are particularly difficult to be understood by students via traditional media like formulas and explanations on the blackboard.

To achieve this, the interdisciplinary team incorporated in this project works from diverse professional specialties: architectural, structural, industrial design and graphics support as required. The development of models focuses on illustrating the physical behavior of structural components and systems.

The importance of this project, the proposed innovation and viability of immediate application as a teaching tool, justify to study and analyze its usefulness in order to obtain a significant learning on these subjects at university level.

Development of a Molecular Dynamics Simulation Lab on nanoHUB to Enhance Student Understanding of the Atomic Nature of Plastic Deformation

Tanya A. Faltens, Alejandro Strachan, Network for Computational Nanotechnology, Purdue University, USA
Heidi Diefes-Dux, K. Anna Douglas, School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, USA
Aisling Coughlin, David R. Johnson, School of Materials Engineering, Purdue University, USA is an open-access science gateway that enables dissemination of simulation tools to wide audiences.  Complete learning packages that include simulations and associated lesson content, such as lectures and assignments, are freely available, and entire classrooms of students can simultaneously run simulations.  These simulation tools can serve several purposes, from prediction of properties to visualization of the invisible.

While visualization and virtual experimentation promise to help students learn concepts and develop intuition about atomic-level processes, novice users may glean different understandings from those that are apparent to expert users.  In this work, we describe the development of a hybrid laboratory assignment consisting of both a nanowire tensile test simulation run via and a physical tensile test using copper and brass samples in a load frame, that is used to teach second-year materials engineering students at Purdue about the atomic nature of plastic deformation.  The nanowire simulation uses molecular dynamics to create interactive snapshots of the nanowire throughout the tensile test, from its original undeformed crystal structure through stages of deformation, along with graphs and numerical data of the nanowire’s energy, temperature, and stress tensors as a function of time.  Students use this output to answer laboratory questions and prepare a laboratory report.

Analysis of students’ laboratory reports and exams revealed concepts that students struggle with, and it was clear that the hybrid lab has not yet realized an optimal impact on students’ learning.  Based on this study, revisions of the lab have been recommended and will be presented here.  Additionally, we have worked with experts in engineering education to create a new framework, based on principles of curriculum design, for integrating research-grade simulation tools into engineering lessons.  This framework should be useful to other engineering educators who would like to effectively incorporate research grade-simulations into their existing courses.

Integration of Computational Laboratories with Undergraduate Curriculum:  Successes and Lessons Learned

P. Anderson, S. Niezgoda, A. Polasik, W. Windl, The Ohio State University, USA

The materials genome initiative (MGI) is shaping the way materials are developed, and thus computational methods are increasingly important for success in both research and industry. In response, the Department of Materials Science and Engineering has elected to revise undergraduate degree program curricula in a significant manner. In autumn 2013, three semester-long computational laboratory courses were incorporated as part of the required undergraduate curriculum. A key objective of this revision was to produce graduates who are cognizant of the broad range of computational tools available to materials engineers and who are able to use a number of those tools proficiently to solve problems of practical importance. We have developed a curriculum that integrates database use, visualization, and computational approaches in materials science with other core educational content. The individual laboratory exercises and projects are designed to reinforce materials taught in required lecture courses in the current or preceding semester, and a laboratory-style course allows the student to develop modeling skills by working on complex and sometimes open-ended assignments. In this presentation, details will be presented on the specific course offerings, course content, exercises, and software packages used. After 3 years of successful implementation of these laboratory courses, it is obvious that these hands-on exercises and projects reinforce and dramatically improve retention of key concepts. Moreover, the challenges and successes experienced in this project provide valuable information for successful integration of computational projects into any part of an existing materials science and engineering curriculum.

Teaching Materials Science And Engineering Online: Challenges and Opportunities

James F. Shackelford, University of California, USA

The past decade has seen initial enthusiasm and then considerable skepticism about the promise of online education. Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been the focus of much of that discussion. Informed by this debate, UC Davis Extension has embarked in recent years on a number of offerings in online instruction for the field of materials science and engineering:

1) A complete set of online lectures in conjunction with the introductory materials textbook Introduction to Materials Science for Engineers. The use of these lectures in various formats will be discussed, focusing on their use in the “flipped classroom.”
2) A hybrid course consisting of the lectures in item 1 along with traditional laboratory experiments on campus during UC Davis Summer Sessions. A comparison of that offering with a parallel offering of the introductory course with in-class lectures will be given.
3) A MOOC based on key topics covered in the full online course in item 1 entitled “Ten Things Every Engineer Should Know About Materials Science.”
4) A Masters Certificate in Materials Science and Engineering for working professionals. This certificate program is being developed among a consortium of universities including UC Davis.
Our experience at UC Davis with these various online offerings will be reviewed along with broader comments on the overall potential of online education.

Mechanical Behavior of Materials on MITx

Lorna J Gibson, MIT, USA

Mechanical Behavior of Materials (3.032x), a required subject for the undergraduate degree in Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, was offered as a MOOC through MITx in Fall 2014.  This talk first reviews the content and traditional style of teaching for this subject. The resources that were developed for online use are then demonstrated and the preparation of the online subject, the demographics of the online students and the use of the materials by the online students are described. The use of the online materials by MIT students taking the residential subject are also discussed.  The talk concludes with comments on the experience of teaching a MOOC with MITx.

A Model for Senior Design Projects = Student’s personal interest + Materials selection methodology

Mary Bazan Vollaro, Western New England University, USA

Finding the ‘perfect’ capstone project that captures the student’s interest and personal passion, and incorporates the fundamental engineering knowledge they have gained over the past 3 or so years, is challenging. This paper will show, through examples of student work, an approach to integrating design through materials selection methodology. From the instructor’s perspective, the framework for working in collaboration with the student to outline a viable design project to meet all the course outcomes is presented.  Specifically, outcomes for the senior design project course state that the student must demonstrate the ability to identify design tasks and their objectives by apply engineering design principles to develop or modify a product or process, conduct well designed experiments, document their design activities, and give technical presentations of the results in the forms of progress reports, poster, final written report and oral presentations. In parallel, the student’s work will demonstrate how the outcomes were achieved and the design activities were implemented in the project, which included use of Materials Selection methodology (as presented by Ashby, M.) and the CES Materials Selection software.  The primary example is the student project, “Analysis of Core Materials for Design and Fabrication of an All Mountain Ski”, which illustrates how the student was able to research ski design and mechanics, select materials to maximize ski characteristics, optimize ski core design, and most importantly, build and test the prototype all mountain ski. Further experience with this senior project model will be shared with examples of student work on baseball bats and fishing poles.  The instructor will share assessment on the student’s progress throughout the project including self-learning of materials selection methodology with CES software, key milestones for instructor/ student collaboration, and the positive impact of the project as the culmination of the student’s undergraduate engineering education. 

Enhancing undergraduate biomaterials education through active/collaborative learning and problem-based learning

Yawen Li, Lawrence Technological University, USA

Student-centered learning represents a new approach in science and engineering education that aims to better motivate the students and help to transform them from passive recipients of other people's knowledge into active constructors of their own and others' knowledge. Two effective methods of student-centered teaching include active/collaborative learning (ACL) and inductive teaching and learning (ITL) [1. 2]. As an important branch in biomedical engineering, biomaterials has seen rapid growth over the past decade in academia, industry and regulatory sectors. This poses challenges to undergraduate biomaterials education in which topics to cover and what “skill sets” students should attain.
The author describes her experience of teaching biomaterials-related courses in a predominantly undergraduate institution (PUI), focusing on the incorporation of ACL and problem-based learning (PBL), a form of ITL, to promote student active learning and foster transferrable skills in critical thinking, problem-solving, communication and teamwork. As a Kern Innovative Teaching faculty member, the author has developed a variety of ACL and PBL activities in and out of classroom. She discusses useful strategies and “lessons learned” in implementing these activities. Student course evaluation, exit interview and alumni survey have shown positive impact of ACL and PBL on student learning and career development.

Few Stones Left Unturned:
Reorienting an Introduction to Materials Science Course Towards Significant Learning

Jerrold A. Floro, University of Virginia, USA

Introduction to the  Science and Engineering of Materials is a multi-section technical elective in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). Traditionally, about 60% of SEAS undergraduates enroll in a section of this course, indicative of its popularity, this despite its reputation for being very challenging. One section was completely redesigned, and rolled out for Spring 2014 to an 80-student classroom. The centerpiece of the new design is the use of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) as the primary active-learning approach to replace traditional lecture. POGIL asks students to construct their own knowledge through a series of carefully-constructed, instructor-managed, guided inquiries during class time.  Students work in teams to promote peer instruction and collaborative practice. But the changes to this course went well beyond “POGILization”. In particular, assignments and assessments were refocused in order to target key aspects of Fink’s taxonomy of significant learning [1]. Assignments went beyond the typical, rote, end-of-the-chapter problems to include a team-based design project and the production of a team video. Assessments made increased use of short-answer, “concept-connection” problems taking the place of multiple choice, and these provided useful insights into student thinking and misconceptions. The grading scheme was also significantly modified to include a large component of participation credit and team-based grading, that produced somewhat uncomfortable results in the overall course grades. Both the instructors’ experiences, and the student survey data, were positive overall with regard to the use of POGIL.  The successes and failures of this major redesign will be discussed.  Support of the UVa Teaching Resource Center’s Nucleus grant is gratefully acknowledged.

Meeting the Talent and Training Needs of the Ceramic and Glass Industries

Charlie Spahr, Marcus Fish, Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation, The American Ceramic Society, USA

Materials professionals use ceramics and glass to pioneer energy solutions, advance medicine, improve the environment, support manufacturing innovations, and make life better.  While ceramic and glass technologies are growing in importance, there are significant talent and training shortfalls facing the ceramic and glass industry. 
In 2014, The American Ceramic Society launched the Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation (CGIF) to ensure that the industry is able to attract and train the highest quality talent available to work with engineered systems and products that utilize ceramic and glass materials. 
The CGIF is addressing the needs of the ceramic and glass industry through the following program areas:

  • Scholarships – the CGIF is planning to fund scholarships to students who demonstrate interest in ceramic and glass science and engineering.
  • Internships – the CGIF will create tools and facilitate networking so that students and companies can optimize the search to find each other and significantly improve the likelihood of successful matches.
  • Continuing Education and Training – the CGIF supports the continued training of those already in industry. We are working with experts in the field to create training modules delivered in multiple formats such as webinars, CD-based training, and in-person workshops.
  • Student Outreach – the CGIF promotes ceramic and glass science and engineering to middle and high school students through programming, outreach, and wide distribution of teaching aids and science kits.  We participate in science fairs and similar events to promote the opportunities and rewards of a career in ceramics and glass.
  • Advocacy – the CGIF advocates for continued support of the materials engineering discipline, ceramic and glass materials in particular.  A key objective of the CGIF is to highlight the value of ceramic and glass materials to those outside our own profession.

Since 1898, The American Ceramic Society has been the hub of the global ceramics community and the most trusted sources of ceramic materials and applications knowledge.  Successful implementation of these CGIF programs will increase public awareness of ceramics and glass, attract more students to study and research in the ceramic and glass fields, fill the talent pipeline for industry, and provide more professional development opportunities in the workplace.

Improving basic and essential skills through brief, spaced practice

Andrew Heckler, Brendon Mikula, & Alison Polasik, The Ohio State University

Through extensive student testing and interviews, we found that the majority of university sophomore, junior, and senior engineering students in a standard introductory materials science engineering course have difficulty with a variety of basic skills necessary for their coursework. To address these issues, we developed and implemented a set of online “essential skills” tasks to help students achieve and retain a core level of mastery and fluency. The task design is based on our research on student understanding and difficulties with several essential skills as well as three well-established cognitive principles: 1) spaced practice (i.e. practice spaced over weeks-months), to promote retention, 2) interleaved practice (alternating the practice of different skills), to promote the ability to recognize when the learned skill is needed, and 3) mastery (practice until some level of performance is achieved). Training covered a wide range of topics: interpreting log plots, metric conversions, estimating typical values of material properties, employing dimensional analysis, and using equations with mixed units. Students spent a relatively small amount of time, 10-20 minutes in practice each week, answering relevant questions online until a mastery level was achieved. Results indicate significant, and sometimes dramatic, gains on most topics, with retention at least one month after the final practice session. However, the training in one topic, namely metric conversions, resulted in no gains, due at least in part to high initial scores, and the student attitude that metric conversions are easy to “look up”, so they do not need to be learned. In addition to strong gains on most topics, we also found that students rated the training highly, especially when the instructor explicitly discussed the importance of the essential skills practice. Overall, this method has proven to be an effective and time efficient way to significantly improve some kinds of essential skills.

Materials Science and Technology in the High School Classroom: 
A Report on the Math and Science Partnership

Andrew Nydam, Ohio Mathematics and Science Partnership Program
Glenn Daehn, The Ohio State University

Materials science is by nature an interdisciplinary field, and thus is ideally suited to integration with current physical and chemical science courses at the high school level. Math and Science Partnership (MSP) is a 3-year program aimed at teaching and equipping high school teachers to incorporate meaningful and interesting materials science laboratory experiments and assignments into the classrooms. As part of this program, high school science teachers participate in a week of “camp” during the summer and a series of day-long workshops during the school year. These give instruction on a number of topics and potential laboratory experiments. Materials science is then taught without much of the higher-level math.  The goal is instead to engage the students by showing them science concepts and making them aware of some of the complexities of everyday objects. The results of this program have been very positive from the perspective of both the students and the teachers. Both academically oriented and typically science-averse students find the course material interesting; each group expressed the opinion that the course material was geared towards them and not the other group of students.  Embracing the MSP teaching practices has also changed the way teachers teach.  Teachers are now acting as classroom coaches instead of lecturers and worksheet dispensers. As the program grows, more seasoned high school teachers are leading the camps for incoming teachers, showing the potential for tremendous growth and dispersal of the philosophy and techniques of the MSP program.

Materials and Maps

M. Ashby, University of Cambridge

UK Maps condense information; they distil; they capture essentials and reveal relationships. They collapse, onto a single sheet, data that would take pages to report as text or tables. Above all, they are visual; they reveal shape, connections and disconnects. What has this to do with materials? Start at the beginning: the Periodic Table of the elements is a map – you might think of it as having axes of atomic number and outer-electron configuration. When the known elements were first plotted in this way, the gaps revealed what we did not know: undiscovered elements, some attributes of which could even be predicted from the position of the gap even before they were discovered. You can map onto maps. Governments, concerned about security of material supply, identify certain elements as “critical”, meaning that security of supply is essential for reasons of economy or national security. Mapping these and bills of materials for products onto the Periodic Table reveals where dependencies exists; and mapping the countries of origin of the materials onto another map– that of the world – reveals vulnerability to supply constraints. Materials can be mapped in many other revealing ways. Materials have properties – mechanical, thermal, electrical, environmental. Think of these properties as the axes of a multi-dimensional material-property space. Pairs or combinations of these properties can be mapped; each map is a section through material-property space. Doing so reveals patterns and relationships. Material processing, such as thermal or mechanical treatments, changes the properties, shifting the position of the material in material-property space and reconfiguring the patterns. The maps reveal that, for any section, part of the material-property space is filled but part is empty. Certain parts of the space are inaccessible for fundamental reasons, but blocking these off still leaves holes that could, in principle, be filled. From this emerges the idea of vectors for material development, focusing attention on directions for material research that might prove most fruitful. The talk will illustrate these points with examples, opening the way for possible discussion.

Decoding Complexity & Complications in Materials Design

John A. Nychka, Chemical & Materials Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada

Design is a complex and complicated process; the learning of design is the same. Our views of complexity and complications can differ based on background, discipline, training, and experience. Without a framework for comprehending the differences between complexity and complications, or how to manage the uncertainty of the design process, our perceptions and thinking habits can trap us in poor decision making. To identify a problem, create solutions, evaluate options, and eventually specify a design requires understanding of, and ultimately comfort with, uncertainty. Uncertainty is manifest through complexity and complications in design, thus, there is opportunity that decoding such uncertainty will support a quest for systematicy in design.

One key important concept in teaching and learning design is the realization that design is not an exercise in optimization; design is an exploration of complex systems with associated complications. Exploration of the many elements which exist (complexity), and the many ways in which such elements interact (complications) is vital to the analysis stage of design, but in order to be evaluative, synthesize, and decide upon the desired solution a framework for the entire system is required. Through generation of a complex system diagram (see Figure 1) and the process of identifying the interactions between elements (e.g., research, modelling, testing) the problem identification stage can be supported.

The complex system diagram exercise can also lead to emergent phenomenon, such as new design ideas, evidence for decisions, and potential failure modes of designs. Moreover, the complex system diagram can assist in identifying areas of further research, analysis and testing, whilst also offering clues for decision making (e.g., prioritization through nodal analysis and isolation). Differentiating between complexity and complications in the context of materials design will be explored in this talk with examples of student generated complex system diagrams, student feedback, instructor reflections, and comments on the use of materials specific complex system diagrams as a teaching and learning tool.

Innovation: Why, How & What

Ronald Kander, Philadelphia University, USA

Here at Philadelphia University, we are in the process of transforming the interdisciplinary education process in the fields of design, engineering and business to focus our students squarely on innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship.  In the process of partnering with industry to develop our award-winning curriculum, we have also developed a unique way to define the applied innovation process and deliver specific educational experiences around that definition.  We call this process "Nexus Learning" to describe our active, collaborative, real world learning process.

It seems like everyone today uses the word "innovation" to describe what they do and how they do it.  Borrowing from Simon Sinek, this presentation will "start with why", and will explore why interdisciplinary, team-based innovation is one of the best ways to address today's complex, real-world, human problems.  We will describe global trends, explore specific learning outcomes, consider definitions of innovation, and describe one specific example of the applied innovation process.  Finally, we will conclude with a discussion of why interdisciplinary, team-based innovation is the best way to prepare our students for their future careers and for future job titles (many of which do not exist today!) and why materials education will continue to be a key element in the modern applied innovation process.

Transforming Material Education for Non Majors using Video Game Style Virtual Laboratory

P. Ari-Gur, P. Thannhauser, P. Ikonomov, R. Rabiej, D. Litynski, and T. Bayne, Western Michigan University, USA
M. Hassan M, Louisiana State University, USA
J. Johnston, Muskegon Community College, USA

Materials science is a required course for undergraduate mechanical engineering students and other non-majors. Due to budgetary and time constraints, the materials science course is offered at many institutions in the format of lecture only, even though laboratory experience is believed to play a critical role in the engineering student educational experience.

The project, funded by Hewlett-Packard and NSF, addresses the issues of absent lab experience and low passing rate in this course. It also targets improved students’ comprehension and excitement about materials science. A unique set of video game style virtual laboratory experiments were developed. The experiments include both basic ones, such as tensile test of alloys and heat treatment of steel, as well as advanced instrumentation (scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction). The laboratory is conducted on laptops, in the physical lab, in an open lab format. That gives the students an opportunity to watch, for example, a sample under the microscope and ask the TA questions. At MCC, the virtual laboratory is used as a preparation prior to the physical lab. It has shown excellent improvement in comprehension.

Assessment of the virtual laboratories has been conducted at several institutions in the US and abroad. It included diverse populations in a variety of universities and community colleges with positive results from both learning outcome and student attitude. The laboratories proved to be successful for demonstrations and hands-on recruiting events for middle and high school students. 

In conclusion, virtual laboratories are a cost-effective method to provide students with laboratory experience that is practical for large classes of materials science for non-majors. We continue to develop more modules and provide the developed ones free of charge to requestors around the country and the world.

Fab Wars: tools, tolerances, and techniques

Jacob A. Gines, Mississippi State University, USA

Within the academy of architecture, tools have always had a presence, being integrally embedded into a curriculum of making - aiding the designer in the production of artifacts and the realizing of drawings.  Tools are carefully chosen and considered by the designer with the understanding that tools produce outcomes and are used to reinforce objectives.  Using different tools to perform the same operation will alter outcomes, even when design remains a constant.  It is also evident that different tools produce varying degrees of craftsmanship that are brought into reality by their own precision, tolerances, and the techniques of operation.  In the defense of design integrity and innovation much has been debated in reference to analog vs. digital tools.  For all intents and purposes, a ‘Fab(rication) War’ has ensued between architectural purists (analog) and architectural revolutionaries (digital). 

David Pye in his book The Nature and Art of Workmanship, states that “Craftsmanship means simply workmanship using any kind of technique or apparatus, in which the quality of the result is not predetermined, but depends on the judgment, dexterity and care which the maker exercises as he works. The essential idea is that the quality of the result is continually at risk during the process of making.”

This presentation will examine how fabrication techniques alter design outcomes and challenge perceptions of tolerances and the tools used to produce artifacts in architectural education.  Outcomes of this inquiry are evidenced with a project-based learning exercise in an architectural ‘Materials’ course wherein students were asked to select and recreate a Japanese wood joint using two methods/tools.

The Periodic Table of Criticality

T. E. Graedel and N.T. Nassar, Yale University, USA

Potential resource scarcity is increasingly in the news – lithium, indium, rare earths, and so forth.  The stories typically identify one or more metals as “critical” and then go on to discuss issues that challenge availability. However, determining criticality is a complex and sometimes contentious challenge. To explore criticality determination from the perspective of rigor and breadth, a comprehensive methodology has been applied to 62 elements of the periodic table. This presentation will present some results of this work by discussing the more critical metals that are identified by the analysis, as well as what remains to be explored in order to provide a better informed and more comprehensive picture of resource availability over the long term.

Sustainable Architecture Broadly Considered

Michael Cadwell, The Ohio State University, USA

Much as industrialism played a central role in architecture during the 20th century, sustainability is central to architecture in the 21st century. As such, sustainable technologies will act in concert with architecture’s broad cultural mandate: to envision, construct, and inhabit new worlds. To cite a famous example from the 20th century, LeCorbusier’s Dom-ino House relied on technological advances in reinforced concrete that provided architecture with a mode of abstraction being explored in the arts. While the concrete orthogonal frame broke the constraints of masonry bearing wall construction, that is, it also described a vocabulary of point, line, and plane, opening to new ways of perceiving and engaging the world. Technology was necessary in this instance, but it was not in itself sufficient. Moving to the present: If we now understand the world as an ecology of interdependent systems, rather than the static assembly of known quantities, then architecture, too, might become a kind of ecological construct. Architecture might not only produce more sustainable buildings, but in this effort, provide new understandings of wall, ground, nature, and sight – new worlds.

A New Upper - level Engineering Course, “Materials for Energy and Sustainability”

Mark R. De Guire, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA

In recognition of the dual roles of engineered materials as sinks for energy, raw materials, and other resources, but also as pivotal components in advanced energy systems, a new required course for undergraduates in materials science and engineering launched at CWRU in fall 2014. 

The first part of the course covers global and regional demand for resources; criticality of materials; energy consumption and carbon emissions of products over their lifetimes; and design strategies to meet criteria related to performance, cost, and environmental impact. 

The second part provides introductory treatments of: wind and solar energy; batteries, capacitors, and fuel cells; thermoelectrics and other energy-­‐harvesting technologies; and materials and energy consumption in building construction and in lighting. The relative advantages and disadvantages of various technologies, and the performance requirements they place on key materials, are unifying themes. 

Though the course mostly follows a traditional lecture format, the currency of the subject matter and the ubiquity of engineered materials lend themselves to spontaneous discussion more than is typical for engineering courses. A term paper and an oral presentation allow students to explore topics of their choice (within the scope of the course) in greater depth. Guest lectures by specialists allow for greater depth on particular subjects. 

The course builds on topics that most CWRU engineering students encounter in prior courses — introductory thermodynamics of materials processing; the basics of recycling; materials selection charts — as well as typical introductory physics, mathematics, and chemistry. With no materials-­‐specific prerequisites, the course is designed to be accessible to upper-­‐level undergraduates in any field of engineering and the physical sciences. 
The talk will include feedback from students, lessons learned from the initial offering, a discussion of the course’s exportability, and plans for improvement. 

An Interactive and Visual Tool for Sustainable use of Materials in Engineering Design

Claes Fredriksson, Granta Design, United Kingdom

Sustainability in engineering is an abstract and complex issue entailing both material and energy resources or flows, alongside societal and economic aspects. We describe how a widely used software and a unique dataset of material properties can be used in engineering teaching and industry to enable a rational and well informed response to eco challenges. CES EduPack 2015 and its relative, CES Selector 2015, can be used to interactively select materials from comprehensive databases based on cost, manufacturability, mechanical performance and eco-properties, such as embodied energy or carbon footprint, using visualization and selection tools. Life-cycle properties can be estimated already at the design stage using a so called Eco Audit which also delivers guidelines for improved environmental performance. Case studies and examples demonstrate the technical utility and the Sustainability database is used to show how to support social and resource aspects in teaching and in Corporate Social Responsibility reporting.

Large and Light:
Volumetric Architectural Construction with Plastics

Justin Diles, The Ohio State University, USA

Short description: Frame construction in iron, steel and reinforced concrete transformed architectural construction and expression in the late 19th century, replacing alternative practices that employed masonry units or cut stone. Over a century later, composite construction with fiber-reinforced plastics may again significantly alter the character of buildings, allowing architects to do more with assemblies that are both large and light. In addition to the potential environmental benefits—reduced transportation costs, erection time and structural dead loads—lightweight composite assemblies help architects recover and reinvent design strategies that formerly relied on assemblies constructed from solid elements. Poché is a term used by architects to describe both the thickness contained between a building’s visible surface and the shaping of this thickness for design purposes. Composite construction advances the potential of laminar poché—void thickness captured by thin surfaces—and points to new interactions between material, structure, construction, expression and environmental performance. This presentation will give a brief overview of how composites are being increasingly incorporated into architecture and outline how ongoing prototyping research conducted at OSU’s Knowlton School of Architecture is contributing to the development of concepts that inform the use of composites for design.