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US Symposium 2010

Information Technology in Support of Materials Education

Stevens Institute of Technology

March 20

Short courseGranta’s first US Materials Education Symposium was held at Stevens Institute of Technology in March 2010. Together with the associated CES EduPack Short Courses (pictured, right) the Symposium made for an enjoyable and informative three day event. An excellent panel of seven speakers from Canada, UK and the US and a poster session stimulated discussion on a wide variety of topics.

Most attendees stayed nearby and participated in the social program, including a drinks reception in the Howe Center’s Faculty room, with a wonderful view of Manhattan, and an excellent Symposium dinner. This provided plenty of opportunity for sharing experience, stimulating discussion and networking.

Symposium report

The Symposium was opened by Professor Keith Sheppard, Associate Dean of Engineering & Science at Stevens Institute of Technology who generously provided the event with access to the modern Babbio Center.

Mike Ashby lecturingProfessor Mike Ashby of the University of Cambridge gave the keynote talk and discussed current and developing approaches to materials teaching, touching on different teaching approaches (e.g., design-led and science-led), the range of subjects to which materials teaching is relevant, and some emerging trends (e.g., the increasing importance of eco design). He noted how other speakers throughout the day would speak on many of these topics and also introduced some relevant recent enhancements to the CES EduPack software and supporting resources—including an Eco Audit Tool to facilitate teaching of sustainability issues, and developments to make the software even more intuitive and easy-to-use.

Professor John Berry of the Mechanical Engineering Department at Mississippi State University was the next speaker. ME has the largest undergraduate engineering program in the Bagley College of Engineering with almost 500 undergraduates. In 1994 the faculty took a far-reaching step—they decided to fully integrate ‘materials’ into their design sequence. Prof Berry gave an illuminating and detailed talk covering the many challenges that they faced in making this change. After some difficulty convincing faculty colleagues, they were able to integrate materials selection, CES EduPack, and other software into the curriculum (ME 4113 / 6113 Materials Selection—elective). These changes were deemed successful and this led to the spread of EduPack into the required materials course (ME 3403 Materials for ME Design). Professor Berry then looked at how the changing employment scene in the Southeastern States was impacting the education now offered by the Department. New faculty have been hired with broad experience in automotive design and manufacture, and the Mechanical Systems Design course now incorporates the redesign of automotive components.

Additionally, a Sophomore course has been established to introduce students to “real world” components.  This has been very successful, with student teams forming ‘companies’, preparing formal presentation,s and submitting detailed reports as part of the assessment. This course has also been used as a way to introduce students to SolidWorks, COSMOS and CES EduPack for specifying the materials concerned. (A theme that developed throughout the day was how student expectations and their exposure to engineering before arriving at University have changed dramatically over recent decades). Professor Berry concluded by saying that the changes to the ME curriculum had been successful, and outlined the possibility of using CES EduPack across campus in Biomaterials, Architecture, and Composites, and the great potential for CES EduPack in industrial technology engineering programs, albeit with a new supporting textbook at the appropriate technological level.  

Mark De GuireNext up was Professor Mark De Guire of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Case Western Reserve. In the mid-1990s, the core-engineering curriculum at Case Western Reserve University was revised to replace the traditional second semester of freshman chemistry with a course called “Chemistry of Materials.” Approximately 400 mostly first-year students, with interests across all branches of engineering, take the course. He gave a fascinating talk and started by outlining the use of technology in ENGR 145: Chemistry of Materials which uses as its foundation the text by Callister, Materials Science & Engineering: an Introduction. These resources included Blackboard, CWRU’s in-house Courseware platform, and CES EduPack. Three homework assignments (10% of grade) require CES EduPack, all with the aim of illustrating basic science with real materials. It was extremely interesting to hear what students love and hate about educational technologies, and how Professor De Guire uses pre-lecture music to engage students in large lectures, encouraging suggestions—e.g., should there be a heavy metal track for the lecture on metals? Professor De Guire then covered the use of EduPack across campus on other courses: EBME 370: Principles of Biomedical Engineering Design, EBME 380: Biomedical Engineering Design Experience, EMAE 372: Relation of Materials to Design, EMSE 303: Mechanical Behavior of Materials, EMSE 313: Engineering Applications of Material, EMSE 421: Fracture of Materials. He concluded by looking at how students had used EduPack in Senior design projects.

The morning ended with Professor Sylvain Turenne of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at École Polytechnique de Montréal in Canada. In recent years, a strong effort has been deployed to redefine the eleven engineering programs at École Polytechnique. These new curricula were established in the Fall session of 2007. The intention is to reinforce the development of a design approach in engineering, by proposing integrative projects every year of the four year program. In parallel to the renewal of engineering program curriculums, the Department of Mechanical Engineering chose to adapt its program to the CDIO initiative (Conceive, Design, Implement and Operate). Professor Turenne gave an interesting and interactive talk covering the structure of programs at École Polytechnique, their integrative projects, an outline of the CDIO initiative, and examples of the use of CES EduPack in 'Design-Build-Test' projects throughout different years of study. He concluded that engineering programs that include these elements bring valuable experience to students. Exposing students to authentic applied engineering projects promotes the development of skills and competencies in various societal contexts.

Lunch in the Stevens Attrium—looking towards Manhattan

After lunch, Professor Richard Sisson, Director of the Materials Science and Manufacturing Engineering Programs and Dean of Graduate Studies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute spoke on "Innovations in the Use of CES EduPack to Teaching and Learning in Aerospace, Environmental, Mechanical and Materials Engineering". Professor Sisson provided a wonderful insight into the use of information technology resources across the engineering curricula at WPI, and in particular how CES EduPack has been embraced for materials education throughout undergraduate and postgraduate engineering. Starting with the Introduction to Materials Science courses looking at structure, properties, processing and performance, he moved on to courses including ME 4718: Advanced Materials with Aerospace Applications by Professor D. Lados. Part of this course is a project in which students are expected to form teams of four, each team member being assigned the role of either: Chief Materials Scientist, Chief Processing Engineer, Chief Failure Analyst, or Chief Design Engineer and Granta Specialist. Professor Sisson ended his talk with a look at Capstone Projects, all of which now include environmental impact assessment. The environment and sustainability was a strong theme that ran across many of the courses he mentioned, and something that kept coming up in discussions throughout the day.  Professor Sisson concluded by saying that many software packages are currently being used at WPI including; FEA, CFD, MatLab, ThermoCalc, and that CES EduPack is a very important addition to these analysis tools. He stressed that early training in the use of these tools allows faculty and students to easily apply the software later on in many different courses and projects.

Charles Hayes, Executive Director of the ASM Materials Education Foundation was the next speaker. He provided an overview of the very successful ASM Materials Camps aimed at high school students and teachers. The philosophy of the Camps are: learning by doing, guided discovery, and no “wrong answers”. He mentioned that, sadly, many of the high school students encountered at the Camps do not know the difference between a flat/straight head and cross head screw, and that it is very important to capture the students' and parents' interest in an engineering career at the K-12 level. These comments led to much discussion in the room. He then introduced electronic resources developed by the ASM Materials Education Foundation to stimulate and engage high school students including the CODiE Award finalist ‘City of Materials’:

In the final part of his talk he looked at the K-12 CES EduPack experiment carried out 2006-2008 at the University of Washington by Professor Tom Stoebe. In 2007, in a survey of 21 teachers, 48% wanted to use CES EduPack in their classroom during the following year, and 48% said they might use it. 71% of those surveyed felt that CES EduPack could make a significant contribution to high school engineering related teaching. In the follow up survey in 2008, 10 teachers responded, with only one teacher having had time to use EduPack with students. The main feedback was that CES EduPack 2006 did not directly relate to the topics being taught at high schools and that, unfortunately, there was no time available in the current curriculum. It was agreed that it would make sense to explore ways of improving this situation in the future.

Professor Ronald Kander of James Madison University gave an impromptu presentation about the new engineering program being setup at his University, the first engineering students were enrolled in August 2008. The Engineering degree has a strong design curriculum including:

1) Environmental Sustainability;
2) Creative and Critical Thinking, Decision Making, and Assessment;
3) Aesthetics of Design;
4) Economic and Social Sustainability; and
5) Design Ethics

The Design Program is interdisciplinary and will utilize faculty from business, art, and social science disciplines. It will also employ a variety of innovative instructional methodologies from the social sciences and humanities. Everyone found this an extremely interesting talk, and we look forward to hearing about the progress made at the 2011 US Materials Education Symposium.

Finally, Marc Fry from Granta Design outlined recent CES EduPack developments and looked at the growing number of industrial and educational collaborative projects Granta Design is involved in. He described one such educational project in more detail, the UK Collaborative Open Resource Environment (CORE) project, which aims to make a significant number of the many existing materials electronic learning resources freely available online:

Finally, Marc discussed CES EduPack plans for the future including: a Hybrid Synthesizer, a materials for low-carbon power systems edition of EduPack and the possible expansion of the eco audit tool.

Each of the talks was followed by a discussion session, with a wrap-up session chaired by Professor Mike Ashby and Granta's Hannah Melia at the end of the day. All suggestions relating to CES EduPack made during these discussions will be fed into the EduPack development planning process.

Feedback from the Symposium and Short Course attendees was very positive. This has encouraged Granta to grow the event. The 2011 US Materials Symposium will be extended to two days and organized in collaboration with an Advisory Committee of academics drawn from leading universities and materials organizations.