Materials Science and Engineering

Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is focused on the improvement of existing materials and the discovery of new materials. MSE can often be thought of as a conduit between the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics, earth and planetary sciences) along with math and all engineering disciplines. An example of this is the area of biomaterials (hip implants, dental implants, drug delivery, transplant material) that bridges biology and biomedical engineering.

During the four weeks, students will focus on MSE in the afternoons and as small groups will conduct three different hands-on laboratories, each lasting three days. These laboratories will include synthesizing and processing of a spinel ceramic (with an atomic structure that can accommodate many different chemical compositions resulting in a variety of commercial applications), building polymer components using 3D printing and examining the component’s mechanical integrity, and deforming a metal alloy (brass) and examining how the mechanical properties change. One of the important cornerstones of MSE is the relationship between structure, at various scales including macro, micro, nano, and atomic, and the resulting properties. These labs are designed to emphasize this relationship.

In addition to the hands-on activities, the students will hear seminars from several faculty in MSE highlighting their personal research areas. These seminars have been chosen to illustrate the breadth of MSE and include topics such as computation materials science, studying mechanical properties at the nanoscale, how MSE impacts the semiconductor industry, and “listening” to materials to determine physical properties. There will also be lectures on various characterization techniques (electron microscopes!), statistical analysis, advanced Excel techniques, keeping track of references, data mining, drawing atomic crystal structures, creating high quality graphics, etc.

Additionally, there will be three local plant/laboratory tours scheduled that complement the laboratory experiences. A tour of the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will complement the laboratory on spinels and a tour of the additive manufacturing capabilities at the Manufacturing Demonstration Facility (MDF) will complement the 3D printing laboratory.

Based on their laboratory experiences each team will choose a laboratory that they want to expand upon and suggest follow-on research (experiments, computational, or literature reviews). The student teams will be given some time in the final week work experiments, etc. during the afternoons but will be expected to work as groups on preparing posters, describing their results of their laboratory experience and follow-on research, in the evenings. The MSE GSE portion will conclude with poster presentation event with students presenting their findings.

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