Materials Education Symposia - Home

North American 2015 Materials Education Symposium

« back | North American : North American 2015


A New Upper - level Engineering Course, 'Materials for Energy and Sustainability'

Dr Mark De Guire | Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA

A New Upper - level Engineering Course, 'Materials for Energy and Sustainability'

Download PDF Presentation:


In recognition of the dual roles of engineered materials as sinks for energy, raw materials, and other resources, but also as pivotal components in advanced energy systems, a new required course for undergraduates in materials science and engineering launched at CWRU in fall 2014. The first part of the course covers global and regional demand for resources; criticality of materials; energy consumption and carbon emissions of products over their lifetimes; and design strategies to meet criteria related to performance, cost, and environmental impact. The second part provides introductory treatments of: wind and solar energy; batteries, capacitors, and fuel cells; thermoelectrics and other energy - harvesting technologies; and materials and energy consumption in building construction and in lighting. The relative advantages and disadvantages of various technologies, and the performance requirements they place on key materials, are unifying themes. Though the course mostly follows a traditional lecture format, the currency of the subject matter and the ubiquity of engineered materials lend themselves to spontaneous discussion more than is typical for engineering courses. A term paper and an oral presentation allow students to explore topics of their choice (within the scope of the course) in greater depth. Guest lectures by specialists allow for greater depth on particular subjects. The course builds on topics that most CWRU engineering students encounter in prior courses - introductory thermodynamics of materials processing; the basics of recycling; materials selection charts - as well as typical introductory physics, mathematics, and chemistry. With no materials - specific prerequisites, the course is designed to be accessible to upper - level undergraduates in any field of engineering and the physical sciences. The talk will include feedback from students, lessons learned from the initial offering, a discussion of the course's exportability, and plans for improvement.