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Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech: A New Curriculum for a New School

Prof Anselm Griffin | Georgia Institute of Technology

Materials Science and Engineering at Georgia Tech: A New Curriculum for a New School

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Recently, the School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and the School of Polymer, Textile and Fiber Engineering (PTFE), at Georgia Tech merged to form a new academic unit within the College of Engineering. MSE was dominated by faculty with expertise in ceramics and metals while PTFE's faculty strength was in polymers and fibers. The opportunity to create a new school with a broad remit to engage both hard and soft materials in its research agenda and in its curriculum was seized upon with enthusiasm. It was decided that the name would remain as School of Materials Science and Engineering, albeit with a newness to its internal and external faces including significant curricular revision. The decision was made early on to create a (new) B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and to ?teach out' the students currently in the two legacy degree programs ? B.S. in Polymer and Fiber Engineering and (old) B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering ? as the new degree program was being introduced. Central to the discussions were the extent to which courses in chemistry would be required of all students; the nature and content of the ?core' courses and practical laboratories; and the areas of concentration beyond the core courses. Constraints included Board of Regents limits on maximum credits required for undergraduate degrees and the desire to adhere to professional and national accrediting requirements. In the end, the new curriculum has three concentration areas: structural and functional materials; polymer and fiber materials; and biomaterials. Students choose one of these three. In addition, an example will be offered of a new course that had its genesis in the merger: MSE 2801 Laboratory for Fundamental Concepts of Materials ? a hands-on conceptual laboratory course with no prerequisites. It was designed to appeal to students at Georgia Tech in areas other than Engineering: for example, public policy, economics, and biology by using (primarily) light microscopy as the tool for illustrating engineering principles across the soft-to-hard materials spectrum.