Advanced Materials Thrust Education

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Tensile testing novel high temperature materials Tensile testing novel high temperature materials
Tensile testing novel high temperature materials

Hands-on Learning

Such enterprise also calls for educating a new generation of students with a focus on AM applications. We aim to create an innovative interdisciplinary coursework program, both at undergraduate and graduate levels, to train these students in basic sciences and engineering of AM, with hands-on laboratory experience in materials synthesis and characterization from the most basic molecular level to the final device and application level. Today, materials are becoming digital, “smart”, multifunctional, and bioinspired.  Multiscale perspective of the synthesis, characterization, and modeling is key. Like never before, we need to teach students to acquire such a multiscale perspective. To be able to create novel materials of the future, students must know sensors, nanotransducers, quantum sciences, artificial intelligence (AI), also have a strong understanding of fundamental materials science. It is difficult to find a better way to train students than by immediately involving them into interdisciplinary research and allowing them to experience firsthand the impacts of their education.

Exciting and Flexible Curriculum

By captivating the excitement of students right at the beginning of their college careers, this program will aim to increase the number of STEM students in general as well as motivate them to attend graduate schools. At the same time, to attract talented graduate students, we need to offer an exciting and flexible curriculum suitable to their research goals. To create excitement, we will bring industry into their research through building special liaisons with local and national industry and providing truly cross-disciplinary research opportunities.  Graduate students will be supervised/co-supervised by faculty at different departments, work with industry with a focus on solving open questions related to the aforementioned application areas, and will receive a PhD in Advanced Materials. Because of the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary nature of their PhD research, they will directly participate in building their personalized curricula and be required to take only a few basic classes, so they can focus on their research.

University-wide Interdisciplinary Education

While understanding the significance of starting this new AM program at the U, it is important to align this program with the existing strategic directions of the university, both in research and education. By its inherent interdisciplinary nature, we see the AM program as the glue required to bring departments, colleges and schools closer together to target common goals in the strategic areas while keeping their distinct identities in both research and education. This nature of the AM program also provides a unique opportunity to excite students about STEM careers by teaching them about interdisciplinary perspectives and grand impacts their studies could have in respective application areas. Hence, our model is to create a research-oriented educational program by integrating research into the teaching coursework starting at the undergraduate level and having a major research focus at the PhD level education.

Learning With Future Applications In Mind

We will focus on providing students with hands-on laboratory experiences and introducing them to AM applications in Environmental Sciences, Renewable Energy, Healthcare and Medicine, Date Sciences, and Power Generation and Transport. However, we will not stop there. We will create special initiatives to involve undergraduate students in research laboratories not only within the College of Engineering (CoE) but also at the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS), School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS), School of Medicine, and School of Architecture. With students receiving research experience in the early years of their undergraduate studies, UM faculty will have a unique opportunity to work with young student talent within the university and across disciplines. To receive the well-rounded interdisciplinary education required to excel in this emerging area, undergraduate students will focus on their studies and research in one or more of the ten basic directions of the AM program, will work under supervision of faculty researchers at the CoE and/or another participating college, and work in teams to answer open questions in one of the key application areas. Similarly, graduate students will focus on their cross-disciplinary research, build their own academic curricula, will have a limited number of required courses, and work with several departments/centers within the university and industry, local or national, to conduct their PhD research.

Understanding Societal Impacts of Advanced Materials

The interdisciplinary courses offered at the undergraduate level, with some of them offered also at the graduate level, will reflect the above basic directions of the AM program (Fig. 1). Given that AM development being an essential enabling factor in major parts of the economy, the participating students will also take specialized courses from experts in Business and Law to learn how engineering innovations affect the time to market, the unemployment rates, and make other grand impacts on the society. In summary, this AM program will prepare well-rounded graduates to become leaders in a variety of careers in the aforementioned application areas.