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International 2015 Materials Education Symposium

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Interdisciplinary Experience in Materials Engineering

Dr Merce Segarra | Universitat de Barcelona, Spain

Interdisciplinary Experience in Materials Engineering

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Materials engineering is related to many industrial sectors and branches of knowledge, so many that sometimes it is difficult to find an approach between them. The Universitat de Barcelona is a generalist university, with five campuses in the city, around 80000 students and with more than 100 departments specialized in very different areas of knowledge, often with poor knowledge of the activities developed by the others. This lack of contact between the areas is often overcome by the proximity of the schools (in the same campus) or by the relationships between researchers that can lead to interdisciplinary activities enhancing the learning skills of students. Third year students of Materials Engineering Degree at the Universitat de Barcelona have the course 'Laboratory of Materials' as compulsory. In this course the students develop a project-based experience and are encouraged to hands-on learning in an environment for developing skills. Each team should deal with a specific material problem in an industrial application. An example of project developed during last year is the determination of the ideal composition of a tin bronze for the manufacture of bells. After selecting three alloys with the help of EduPack software, students produced different alloys by means of induction furnaces, and characterized their microstructure in the labs of Department of Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering. Further, they manufactured molds for bells and cast the alloys into them at the workshop of the Department of Sculpture in the College of Fine Arts, with the supervision of the lecturers from that department. Afterwards, the acoustic characterization of the bells was performed at the Department of Applied Physics in the Polytechnic University of Catalonia. The results show that students can not only put into practice some of the techniques discussed in class but also they can correlate their studies with different disciplines. Because of this interaction, some students have chosen for the next semester an elective course on Models and Prototypes taught by the Department of Sculpture. The experience has been very successful for both students and faculty members involved.