January Session Course: Materials for Current and Future Technologies

EMSE 102 Infographic

When the January 2021 Session was announced, the Materials Science and Engineering faculty recognized this as a much needed opportunity for undergraduate students to learn about the exciting and excellent opportunities that the field of materials science and engineering provides for engineering students and their later professional careers. 

Department Chair Frank Ernst proposed a new course that would present a broad overview of the "World of Materials" in a format that communicates faculty's enthusiasm for materials science and engineering while minimizing pre-requisites and deemphasizing scholarliness and course grades. The new course was also designed to introduce department faculty, senior undergraduate students, the undergraduate curriculum, and career opportunities. Under the constraints of not being on campus, was decided that each one of the lectures will cover one major aspect of the field and will be prepared and delivered by different small groups of faculty. The advantage of this format is that students will get to know or see every faculty member and the diverse spectrum of research areas in the department. This format somewhat resembles an earlier sophomore seminar course, EMSE 102. The organizer of the brand new course (with the same course number) is Associate Professor Peter Lagerlof, who is bringing in his extensive experience with the earlier course. 

The new, innovated EMSE 102 is entitled "Materials for Current and Future Technologies." The course objectives are for students to learn how the development and application of new materials has critical impact on future technologies. Students will obtain a broad and basic understanding of materials science and engineering concepts (structure, microstructure, properties, performance and the all-important relationships between them) for a variety of material classes, discuss examples of how materials are synthesized and processed in order to acquire or enhance desired properties and performance in service and thereby solve technical and social problems and provide tremendous opportunity for future technology and associated professional careers. Students and faculty will discuss and consider the impact, opportunities, and limitations of today’s engineering materials on existing and future technology, e.g. in areas of energy, transport, sustainability, health. With this brought overview, it will become apparent how critical materials science and engineering really is for addressing critical societal needs and problems of future generations.

Throughout the three-week period, faculty members will talk to and discuss with students about making materials, alloys for construction, materials for information and energy technology, engineered materials for biomedical applications, interfaces, nanomaterials, magnetic materials, failure analysis, materials for extreme conditions and materials engineering through data science.  As the field of materials science and engineering is often overlooked in high school curriculums, the first lecture is a general introduction to the field. Towards the end of the course, there will lectures describing the undergraduate curriculum of material science and engineering, highlighting our emphasis on early practical and professional/industrial experience, as well as career opportunities and examples of professional careers, touching on e.g. materials engineers in industry (including startup companies), national laboratories, and academia. Senior undergraduate students of the department will be invited to provide first-hand information on what it is like to be an undergraduate student in materials science and engineering.

While EMSE 102 was originally designed just for the exceptional January 2021 Session, the great response and positive feedback of the current students has been exciting and the department will be working to offer this important course on a regular basis in future semesters.