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Challenges Facing Materials Education in the 21st Century

Prof Bill Clyne | University of Cambridge

Challenges Facing Materials Education in the 21st Century

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Being an inherently diverse discipline, materials science and engineering is very well suited for practical illustration of various phenomena, ranging from fundamentals of inter-atomic forces to operation of a rolling mill. Of course, practical work can be incorporated into teaching in the form of experiments undertaken by the students, with scope for useful experience being gained in data handling, manipulative skills, independent exploration of the effect of variables etc. However, an alternative (complementary) format is for short practical demonstrations to be undertaken during lectures. Among the potential advantages of this are: It can illustrate a specific point immediately after (or before) it is covered in the lecture; The lecturer can draw attention to important aspects of what is being seen; It can provide a welcome break within a lecture; Even if it doesn't 'work', there is usually some entertainment value, and likelihood of it being remembered. In designing a lecture demonstration, there are a few guidelines that should be followed: It should be relatively short?perhaps up to about 10 minutes; Interactivity is helpful?the involvement of volunteers, audience 'voting' etc usually enhances the value; There must be a genuine scientific point or two involved, which the demonstration does actually illustrate; It's useful, although obviously not essential, if quantification of some sort can be incorporated; The students must be able to see what is going on ?of course, cameras, projectors etc can often be used; It's important to cover the 'practicalities'?logistics, robustness, safety aspects etc. This talk will largely be composed of three practical demonstrations (thus contravening completely the idea of a welcome break in a lecture and certainly raising the risk of some sort of cock-up). These have all been developed recently for a first year course on mechanical behaviour. Hopefully they illustrate some of the above points. They are: