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International 2017 Materials Education Symposium

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"Materials Selection Criteria" full immersion: practicing materials selection with industry

Prof Barbara Del Curto | Politecnico di Milano

"Materials Selection Criteria" full immersion: practicing materials selection with industry

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The role played by materials and manufacturing technologies in industrial products has a relevant impact on designers, producers and users. Therefore, it is necessary to provide students with design methods and tools for a critical approach to the issue. In recent years, the collaboration between academic institutions and industrial partners has become an effective instrument for sharing materials knowledge and improve design process. The joint between university and industry has been useful to better involve students, which will become future professionals, increasing their experience in enterprise environment. Within the "Materials Selection Criteria" course, in Design & Engineering Master Degree Programme at Politecnico di Milano, a hybrid methodology to teach materials selection to product design students has been developed. The approach consists of a theoretical framework of materials science and the introduction to the Ashby's method of selection, through the integration in a full immersion experience cooperated together with an industrial partner. Following the efficient "learning-by-doing" approach, the educational experience has the aim to practice the materials selection method in a real industrial context, focusing on technical and manufacturing properties of materials. The full immersion consists of three different steps: the first one involves the partner factory tour and a briefing presentation before the practical experience. In the second step, following the Mike Ashby's materials selection criteria, students examine a limited number of product's components, exploring their function, constraints and objectives during two days. Finally, the last three days are dedicated to the design of an innovative product concept guided by materials selection. In four years, the full immersion experience, which involved partners from lighting design, professional appliances and smart material suppliers, proves to be effective to involve students in the acquisition of materials selection skills.