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Making material science appealing to students

  • 1.  Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 07-11-2020 10:38

    How well do you think that materials science is portrayed to school kids, especially those headed for college and what would you propose to improve the number taking the materials science route.

    What could people in the industry be doing better to help get kids involved?

    Martin Reeves
    fontec-global LLC
    Holland MI
    (616) 635-4283

  • 2.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 08-18-2020 08:41
    The employment market in the materials field should be promising...

    Waleed Khalifa
    Principal and CEO
    Arabic Consultancy Center for Engineering Materials, Inspection
    Maadi, Cairo

  • 3.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 08-19-2020 10:21
    The companies who are in Materials Science (Manufacturing) business, should arrange field trips , show the processing and how the microstructure and properties change with processing in introduction class. Avoiding phase diagrams in the beginning of the course. Phase diagrams become more meaningful when student knows processing. After all every individual is different. One may find interesting and  other may think boring. I have changed my carrier from Mechanical to Metallurgy and Materials Science.

    Sanjay Kulkarni
    Materials Engineer
    Troy, MI

  • 4.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Chennai Admin
    Posted 08-19-2020 13:35

    Tata Steel - India has a strong program to sensitise school students on career in metallurgy/ material science.
    In similar lines of ASM's outreach program.
    They spend a lot of money and efforts to induce interest in material science for young students.
    Seem successful.
    Industry need to engage in such initiatives to encourage, enthuse students to enter materials engg.
    In their interest as  is the best way they can ensure quality resource inputs.
    As long as civilization is around materials field would keep shining.
    The message need to be implanted in young minds as they prepare to get into college.


    Chennai Metco - India

    Renganathan Chellamraja
    Chennai Metco Pvt Ltd
    Tamil Nadu

  • 5.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 08-19-2020 13:57
    Include some interesting lab tests in highschool physics class. For example, ductile to brittle transition temp of a rubber ball, or improving strength and toughness of a block of ice by adding reinforcement filler (composites), or take a field trip to a steel foundry.

    David Corcoran
    Cleveland Hts OH

  • 6.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 08-19-2020 15:25
    Hi David,
    I agree with you that field trips could work wonders both for pupils and for teachers to see industry in action but we need to look carefully at the type of facility being visited and does it portray an attractive career choice.

    As a 16 year old I was taken on a field trip to a large iron foundry with 50T ladles running overhead and it scared the life out of me and I vowed never to set foot in one again. Famous last words as my career did eventually choices led me to those same foundries and heat treaters.

    Martin Reeves

    fontec-global LLC

    255 E Meadow Ct

    Holland, MI, 49423, USA

    Tel : +1.616.635.4283

    E-mail :

    Skype: reeves1996


    Metals technology industry consulting and advisory services for the metallurgical and ferrous / non-ferrous foundry and heat treatment industries, incorporating over 40+ years experience on 6 continents.


    This e-mail may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient (or have received this e-mail in error) please notify the sender immediately and destroy this e-mail. Any unauthorized copying, disclosure or distribution of the material in this e-mail is strictly forbidden.

  • 7.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 08-20-2020 09:03
    How ironic haha! Very good points. Perhaps a field trip to a materials lab with SEMs or a tour like some ASM chapters host would be more appropriate field trip choices to portray the reality of most mat sci careers.

    David Corcoran
    Cleveland Hts OH

  • 8.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Montreal Admin
    Posted 08-20-2020 16:10

    Hello all,
    I think that students are more familiar with jobs such as mechanical engineer, physicists, etc that they probably see in their everyday life. Personally, when I was a student a long time ago, I do not even remember knowing what metallurgy is. And now I cannot imagine doing anything else.
    It would be good to teach the students about the usefulness of materials and how they actually have helped humanity from the ancient years. Everything around us is materials! In the past, we organized an event inviting high school students. We showed them the optical and SEM microscopes and we gave them the opportunity to observe whatever material they wanted. Hairs, metals, fracture surfaces, composites, etc. In terms of the importance of mechanical properties, we gave them the example of Titanic. We even used marshmallows at room temperature and in liquid nitrogen to show them how the temperature can affect the properties. They were excited! Some of them started thinking about materials engineering as an interesting job.

    In terms of industrial tours, I really believe that they are extremely important, and the industry should open the doors in collaboration with the schools. However, I agree that it may not be that attractive to the new generation. Unfortunately, young people expect an environment like Google and other famous companies. Of course, this is not realistic but, in my opinion, the industry should take into consideration these expectations if it wants to attract more young people in the field.

    Konstantinos Korgiopoulos
    Mining and Materials Engineering McGill University
    Montreal QC

  • 9.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 11 days ago
    I believe the best way for student is to stimulate their natural curiosity. Talking about cost (e.g. cost of corrosion) and about all the technical and research gaps in simple terms and how new materials development can change the world . If we present Materials Science and Engineering like if almost everything is already known and almost nothing needs to be discovered, they will not be interested. If we show them that the field still needs so many new process or materials, they will consider materials science as a possible good path in their life.
    Saadedine Tebbal
    SET Laboratories, Inc.

    Saadedine Tebbal
    SET Laboratories Inc
    Stafford TX

  • 10.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 8 days ago
    Hi there!
    As a former middle school teacher, I would say anything hands-on is by far the best way to reach students when it comes to science. Not only field trips (even the virtual ones these days!), but also lab experiments. A lot of students learn best through multiple modalities, but a predominant one is kinesthetic. After I made the switch to working at ASM (I am in journals and handbooks), I've also realized how interesting I find failure analysis--because crumbling infrastructure is really a tangible thing. Real world applications are unbeatable when it comes to engaging students about a topic. I taught language arts and social studies, but I do have a masters in education, so if you ever want to bounce ideas off someone, please send a message!
    Good luck!

    Jennifer Kelly
    ASM Employee
    Novelty OH

  • 11.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 8 days ago
    Edited by Vanessa Molina 8 days ago
    I really think some practical applications are the best way to go.

    When new airplanes are rolled out, show graphics on how many different materials and material types are used. Show kid they can be a part of designing and producing the next generation of aerospace and automotive technology. Tie it with something hands on, like giving the kids a bunch of different materials (toothpicks and popsicle sticks, paper, paper clips, pens, string, rubber bands... ) and let them get creative with a new airplane design!

    Also, who doesn't love Tony Stark? He's a MET! Point that out, show how cool metallurgy can be.

    Another idea - One time (as an adult) I had the opportunity to take a 4 hour hands-on class on forging. IT WAS FANTASTIC!! When kids are older (high school min but probably college age), if they can take a practical class like that and understand the history of the craft, they'll learn how important metallurgy has been through history. 

    Finally, any manufacturing site would make a fantastic field trip location for kids of appropriate age (those who understand NOT to touch anything). 

    *I may be biased, I work as a metallurgist for a forge facility who supplies parts to aerospace companies :)

    Vanessa Molina
    Chief Metallurgist and Lab Manager
    AFGlobal Corp
    Cypress TX

  • 12.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 7 days ago

    Not to be combative, but Tony Starks has degrees in EE and physics from MIT.  It would be fun if he was a MET, but not true.

    Rich Roe
    Adjunct Professor
    Rochester Institute of Technology

    Richard Roe
    Adjunct Professor
    Rochester Institute of Technology
    Rush NY

  • 13.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 6 days ago
    Well, that is about how I recall Stark's degrees.  But he is an "Iron Man" so perhaps that is close enough to being Metallurgical....  :-)

    Paul Tibbals

  • 14.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 6 days ago
    Unfortunately it is not just to school kids, the issue stretches to university engineering students. Materials engineering as a field of study is not existing in all engineering schools. Students get exposed to one or two core courses, that they push themselves to finish. It seems that all they know about manufacturing and prototyping is revolving around 3D printing! When I bring into the classroom case studies and ask them to think out of the box, and show them actual foundry videos, they start to appreciate the field! 

    I think most students come out of high school thinking that the field of materials engineering is mostly chemistry...."Not Again". May be start there!

    Reem Roufail
    University of Waterloo
    Waterloo ON

  • 15.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 6 days ago
    I think a great way to make it appealing to students is to give them a hands on experience and introduce them to items such as memory alloys or medical  implant that use metals. Being a Metallurgical Engineer I am far more biased toward the metals side, but the other materials have some tremendous applications themselves. While in undergrad, the head of our department always partook in the "Go To Mines Days" and other outreach events and talked to young school kids about it while demonstrating some of the more interesting materials and their properties. One I recall specifically was and space-shuttle block he had, he would take it and put a torch on the one side while the student placed their hand on the other. No heat would be felt on the one side demonstrating the minimal heat transfer properties required for those space shuttle materials. 

    I think people in industry should be participating in more outreach activities. Not only on the Metallurgy side but within all STEM specialties. School kids are often only aware and introduced to mainly military and liberal arts type careers unless they know from a young age what they want to do.  

    Katelyn Kirsch
    Federal Screw Works
    Big Rapids MI
    (720) 676-9859

  • 16.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Peoria Admin
    Posted 6 days ago
    Some good discussion in this thread.  I like to focus on showing students the breadth of work which can be done in Materials Science, and allowing them to see if any of those areas sounds interesting.  15% of the time, students decide they don't want to be in Materials Science (Chemistry comment in another thread), and this is also fine - better to learn this now than after three years of college.  Here are a few examples:

    1) Teaching students how much properties can be improved by making a few changes, such as the strength of low carbon steel vs ultra-high strength steel (how many students can we suspend from a 3mm wire of one vs. the other?  Pass around a 3mm wire and let them imagine all of those students holding on to one wire...), and then explain why both are needed (car bumper vs. paperclip vs. aerospace part), and they will begin to get an idea of how amazing materials are.  
    2) Heat treating (same material - just change temperature; medium carbon steel: three rods, Quench two and anneal one, then temper one of the quenched rods - quenched snaps like a pencil, annealed bends like a paper clip, Q&T won't budge!)
    3) Composites (two useless materials added together makes amazing properties)
    4) Failure analysis (which, of the 394,518 ways in which this part could fail, was the actual cause of failure?  How can we use that knowledge to make other products safe?)
    5) But wait!  There's More!!!  Electronics, ceramics, the cost-drivers which force us to maximize cost/benefit ratios, etc...  Gosh I love Materials Science!  

    I also think this is a great opportunity to blend in other High-school level classes.  The connections to Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Business, (cost/benefit analysis, which alloy to add), Biology (copper/silver bioactivity, biomaterials) and even English (No - really!  Failure analysis is basically a 75-page word problem where you are trying to isolate what paragraph out of 12 journal articles actually relates to what killed your part...) might be a good opportunity for students to see how interconnected each of the science fields are.  Did I mention that I love Materials Science???  Fun fact - I'm wearing my ASM "I love heat treating" shirt and drinking from my ASM Dome Coffee Mug as I type this...

    Zachary Birky
    Intellectual Property Transaction Manager

  • 17.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 6 days ago
    Some great comments here.
    To the original question:  Mat Sci is NOT being presented to kids.  There is very little engineering being presented unless there is a local champion for it, and Mat Sci is to be sure one of the less-populated engineering/science fields compared to ME or EE or Civil.  (Just check with my State's professional engineering organizations, dominated by the Civils to the point that they wanted to eliminate all other P.E. designations, but I digress....)  Certainly most kids have an appetite for new and interesting things, but schools have standardized tests to prepare them for, limited budgets, and teachers who may be unfamiliar with tech topics.  A friend of mine has for years done "Mr. Science" type demonstrations for his local school district.
    I know that ASMI has a Teacher's Camp of some sort, but it would be nice if there were an organized repository of "experiments" / presentations, even including the ubiquitous YouTube, that could be curated by ASMI.
    When we had a family day at Cal Poly the (then) Metallurgy Dept would always include a bunch of demonstrations.  One was where we took a 1080 steel strip, heated two pieces, then water quenched one (no temper) and air cooled the second.  We then had a parent/guardian bend one of them in a vise using a lever, with great difficulty, while the second was easily snapped in two by one of the children courtesy of quench cracks and brittle martensite.  "You're stronger than Dad/Mom!" 8-D
    I had for years, pre-retirement, given a site tour to the local community college Mat Sci class near the end of their term.  The utility company in-house consultancy where I worked had a variety of equipment to see, and I presented failure analysis samples that our Met Lab was working on, analyzers, microscopes, SEM, etc.

    Paul Tibbals

  • 18.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 5 days ago
    Hi! As the Executive Director of the ASM Materials Education Foundation I wanted to share more about what we are doing to reach students and share the world of materials science and engineering with them. We do provide Materials Camps for Teachers to reach approximately 700 teachers each year to help them use the content in their classes and reach many more students. The content can be integrated into a variety of classes, and some teachers go on to teach a full materials science class. The ASM Foundation is always working to expand the number of high schools that offer Materials Science & Engineering. 

    In addition, we offer Materials Camps for Students and other programming. We do have resources available for chapters or individuals that want to do outreach and are hoping to develop our website to better highlight those resources. This is one project that we had planned for this year, but instead put resources into developing our Virtual Materials Camps so that we could still reach teachers and students even during the pandemic. I would be happy to discuss this further and accept any suggestions on this topic.

    It is gratifying to see how much enthusiasm there is around the ASM Foundation's mission! We look forward to working with you.

    Carrie Wilson
    Executive Director
    ASM Materials Education Foundation
    Materials Park OH
    (440) 671-3828

  • 19.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 4 days ago
    I myself did not major in Materials Science, but ended up working in a Materials Lab for over 30 years.  In my university, all engineering majors were required to take a materials engineering lecture and lab.  That class had the biggest impression on me and stays with me to this day. 

    My son, who is majoring in Materials Engineering and Metallurgy at Montana Tech, initially wanted to major in Computer Science while he was a Sophomore in high school because we always sent him to tech camps that were program based through ID Tech.  I learned about Materials Camp offered by ASM through Frauke Houge and told my son if he gets accepted, that he will be going to Ohio for summer camp that year.  That camp changed his view of his future!!!  They had them form teams, assign them an item that failed and had them go through the failure analysis process and make a presentation by the end of the week.  Also, they got to do lots of hands on things like tin castings, making ice cream with LN2, black smithing, rock candy fracture analysis.  When he came home (we are in Los Angeles), he had decided that he wanted to major in Materials Science and maybe a minor in Computer Science.  I have ASM Education to thank for making that opportunity available for my son.  Many kids outside of Ohio know about the Materials Camp.  My son was telling all his friends about the camp, but they still weren't interested because its so far away and don't know what to expect. My son had some knowledge what materials engineering is because of my husband and I.  (My husband does heat treating and brazing)

    I work for an Aerospace firm and we used to go to schools and do "Discover E" presentations, judge science fairs, and invite local elementary schools to our company for "Discovery E" days, where we would have stations set up to promote STEM.  Those were in the Shuttle hey days, and today we don't seem to have the budget to do any of those type of things anymore.  If we want to do any of those activities, we have to do it on our own time and take vacation day from work to do that.  I've done demonstrations in the past in my son's classes.  Its always rewarding showing the kids something new and hopefully something they're remember.

    I think it would be great if local ASM chapters could be more involved in reaching out to high schools for field trips or in class presentations.

    Marilyn Somerville
    Specialist Engineer
    Aerojet Rocketdyne
    Canoga Park CA

  • 20.  RE: Making material science appealing to students

    Posted 3 days ago
      |   view attached
    Dear Mrs Somerville:

    That was very interesting. I fully agree with your suggestions.  I have lectured in 42 countries and given a great many seminars lasting up to a week, 8 h/day as well as many lectures.  I have helped a number of high school and college students every year and they really enjoy metallurgy/materials science.  It is a great field.  I have uploaded for you my biographical sketch.  Failure analysis is a fascinating subject and I have done failure studies, some were litigations, all my career.  If I can help you in any way, just ask.

    George Vander Voort

    George Vander Voort FASM
    Vander Voort Consulting L.L.C.
    Wadsworth IL
    (847) 623-7648


    Bio-2pg-FA.pptx   3.11MB 1 version