Innovative Instructional Strategies for Teaching Materials Science in Engineering

Innovative Instructional Strategies for Teaching Materials Science in Engineering

Fahrettin Ozturk (The Petroleum Institute, UAE), Tanju Deveci (The Petroleum Institute, UAE), Ebru Gunister (The Petroleum Institute, UAE) and Rodney J. Simmons (The Petroleum Institute, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8183-5.ch006
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Advancements in materials production and materials science education accelerate innovations in many engineering fields. Therefore, strong Materials Science education is extremely important for quality part development and efficient designs. Comfort, safety, and cost requirements can be met utilizing technology and knowledge base advancements. This chapter firstly introduces the contents of a more contemporary materials science education curriculum, and advanced content-related laboratory applications. The applicability of incorporating such content in the current curriculum and number of semester hours necessary to teach such a course are discussed. Finally, it explains the role that engineering educators have in preparing students to develop designs that add to the “triple bottom line” which considers costs in economic, social, and environmental terms. Successful Materials Science education helps technological development and increases innovations. This chapter is significant for its detailed discussion on the shortcomings of current Materials Science education and its recommendations of effective teaching strategies.
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Description of Materials Science

Materials Science is a basic core course in most engineering disciplines. Materials types and their structure-property relations in macro- and micro-sizes, along with their strengthening mechanism are the main subject of Materials Science. It is usually taught as a one- or two-semester course depending upon the department’s curricular constraints. The course may involve a laboratory session, or alternatively, a separate Materials Science Laboratory course is offered. The course is generally designed to introduce the fundamental properties of materials and the relationship between the structure of materials at the atomic scale and their physical and mechanical properties identified by basic sciences.

A possible course syllabus includes topics such as: atomic structure and inter-atomic bonding; the structure of crystalline solids; imperfections in solids; diffusion mechanisms; mechanical properties of metals; dislocations and strengthening mechanisms; fracture mechanics, fatigue, and creep behavior; phase diagrams; phase transformations in metals; applications and processing of metal alloys; structure, properties, applications, and processing of ceramics; structure, properties, applications, and processing of polymers; and composites. Undergraduate and graduate materials science education provides four elements: structure, processing, properties, and performance (Flemings & Cahn, 2000). These are usually considered separately. Each element is extensive, with a huge amount of information that can be presented. As can be seen above, the topics are very broad and therefore teaching the course can be quite challenging, requiring both faculty and students to make substantial efforts and adopt various teaching and learning strategies.

Materials Science is an interdisciplinary course that is related to subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Metallurgy, and Mineralogy. A strong Physics and Chemistry background, in particular, can help students comprehend content more easily. This is because Materials Science uses basic science terms and knowledge to explain structure and properties of materials, although it is not basic science. Without this prerequisite knowledge, it would be very difficult to understand each content item in a short period of time. Traditionally, Materials Science subject content is taught in a classroom; however, initiatives to improve and teaching methods, to include laboratory experience, have also been taken.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fracture: The failing of the material into two or more pieces under loading.

Structure of Crystalline Solids: The arrangements of atoms, ions or molecular and grains in solids.

Fatigue: Fatigue is the most important material failure under cyclic loading condition.

Product Life: A product life cycling is the time from manufacturing to to its recycling or disposal.

Inter-Atomic Bonding: The bonding between atoms which holds atoms together to form solids materials.

Dislocations: Crystallographic defects (point, line, surface, and volume) within a crystal structure.

Phase: A homogenous portion of a system that has uniform physical and chemical characteristics.

Strength: It is the ability of the material to resist force and pressure. It indicates material’s durability.

Creep: It is a time-dependent deformation under a constant load or stress at high temperature.

Diffusion: The transport of an atom, ion or molecule from a region of high concentration to a region of low concentration.

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