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The Challenges of the New Materials Engineering Degree in Spain: The Experience of the Technical University of Madrid (UPM)

Prof Jose Miguel Atienza Riera | Universidad Polit?cnica de Madrid

The Challenges of the New Materials Engineering Degree in Spain: The Experience of the Technical University of Madrid (UPM)

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With significant media attention focussed on biotechnology and nanotechnology, in recent years materials engineering has been propelled to the forefront at many universities. In Spain the materials engineering degree course is a relatively recent programme. The Technical University of Madrid (UPM) was the first institution to introduce an upper-level degree in the field in 1995. To be accepted to the course a prerequisite of three years of studies in another area of engineering was set. The orientation of the course was to structural materials, evolving from metallurgical engineering. At present, this upper-level degree is taught in another 14 universities across Spain. With the arrival of the Bologna Process and reform and adaptation of higher education in Europe, in Spain the UPM has been once again a pioneer institution in the introduction of the new four-year undergraduate course in materials engineering. The course involves a forward-looking curriculum in which students acquire knowledge of the three main branches of the field of materials: structural materials, functional materials and biomaterials, with applications in Mechanical Engineering, Processing, Sustainable Engineering, Aerospace, Biomedical and Nuclear Engineering as well as research in Material Science. According to the objectives of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a primary objective considered for the new degree has been that of enhancing undergraduate students exchange programmes with other European higher education institutions. The third and fourth years of the new degree have been open to exchange programmes. It is particularly relevant that the third year will be taught entirely in English, including subjects like Nanotechnology, Numerical Simulation, Mechanics of Materials, Surface Engineering, Composite Materials, Materials Recycling or Biomimicry. Additionally, a new methodology, focused in three critical points, is been employed in all the matter: i) continuous motivation of the students (specially the first years), ii) use of the new information technologies in teaching, learning and evaluation, iii) integral development of the curricular abilities of the students. It is expected that, each year, seventy five new students enrolled the Materials Engineering Degree courses. The first lectures of the new Degree in Materials Engineering at the UPM commenced in September of the academic year 2009-10, with the course being 100% subscribed. The results of this first course show that the students have been better results than the traditional engineering programs, their satisfaction and motivation is higher, and the number of loss students has been significantly reduced.