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International 2011 Materials Education Symposium

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Deconstructing Modern Products in Teaching Materials Engineering

Prof Andy Horsewell | Technical University of Denmark

Deconstructing Modern Products in Teaching Materials Engineering

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Professional engineers and academics working with materials, especially those familiar with CES, understand that modern products are made up of components that have been optimised during the development process. Optimisation and materials selection require a good combination of materials properties and materials processing in relation to the geometry and dimensions of the component. University students, however, are generally not aware of what types of components make up modern products. Nor are they aware of how the materials and fabrication processes used to produce the components are selected and optimised. In a world in which students seem to accumulate multifarious high-tech and high-end gadgets and products - from mobile phones to mountain bikes ? this is rather surprising. Students' interest in materials engineering can be awakened and fostered by making them aware of the relationships introduced above. This is best done by using well-known, cutting-edge and desirable products and deconstructing them to illustrate the combination of materials properties and materials processing involved in their manufacture. Furthermore, the technique of deconstructing modern products can be used to provide a progression throughout any course in materials engineering: an introductory lecture can surprise and inspire by showing exactly how an object is made; real components can be given as objects to be considered during group work; assessment at the end of the course can ask each group of students to consider a different object and to deconstruct the components of which it is made, culminating in a poster presentation of the results. Experience from classes of 20 to 200 students will be used to show how this methodology allows us to shift the classroom focus from teaching to learning. As teachers we can concentrate on engineering methodology and learning goals rather than a standard curriculum of materials science.