MSE student Lisa Behrens discusses her senior design research with MSE alumni and astronaut Mike McCulley.
Purdue University has one of the strongest engineering schools in the world, and our Materials Engineering students are first and foremost "Purdue Engineers." They share the same Freshman Engineering program as all other Engineering students at Purdue, before coming to the School of Materials Engineering in the sophomore year. The School is one of the smaller departments at Purdue, providing a nurturing environment with as much faculty contact as you care to use. The program is distinct from those of most other universities' Materials Science & Engineering departments in several ways...
Our program has a unique perspective.
Most introductory textbooks and undergraduate programs in materials science begin with the basics of structure, before going on to properties and then covering materials processing. This is a very logical structure that goes from fundamentals to applications, but tends to lose track of the essential connections. We follow a different approach at Purdue. Our program takes a "processing first" approach, since processing is the vital link that allows the engineer to control properties through the material's structure. Our students are trained to ask "how would I make that?" And in learning the practicalities of "how" they also learn the fundamentals of "why."
Our program is fully integrated.
Like many materials departments, Purdue's has grown out of an older school: in our case, Metallurgical Engineering. Unlike some of the others, however, we have not just added courses in new classes of material. In all of our courses, we teach the basics structure, processing, properties, and/or performance with examples drawn from all materials classes. When polymers replace structural metals, or ceramics are introduced to provide heat-resistance, our students and alumni are fully prepared for all of the materials challenges that arise.
Our program is highly collaborative.
Most of our courses are taught by teams of faculty, with different professors taking the lead each semester. Students work closely with the faculty, and the small class sizes mean that nobody gets left out. Strong co-op and internship programs provide collaborations with industry, and our capstone senior projects are year-long real life experiences in which teams of undergraduates (often including students from other engineering disciplines) work on projects developed by and for companies under joint supervision by Purdue faculty, and company engineers and managers. Recent projects have involved collaborations with IBM, Alcoa, Rolls-Royce Allison, Cummins Diesel Engine, and others.
Our program has strong international links.
Faculty collaborations extend around the world, and undergraduates often have the opportunity to study abroad. Students from this School have recently studied in Japan, Spain, Australia and Germany. Check out more on the adventures of our own Study Abroad students.
Materials Engineering at Purdue is a small school compared with many of Purdue's other schools of engineering. Junior and senior level classes typically have twenty to twenty-five enrolled students. The small class size results in two things: 1) You will be called upon in class to answer questions, 2) Professors are readily available for consultation outside of class. Most MSE professors have open door policies and encourage students to stop by any time.
The first three years of the undergraduate program provide the basic educational core. In addition to the broad range of basic sciences and general education courses, the core provides a generic approach to the elements of materials science and engineering. The core exploits the idea that the field is composed of the key elements: processing, structure, properties, and performance. This concept provides a strong foundation, integrated across the materials classes: ceramics, metals, polymers, etc. The senior year is primarily elective, and allows students the opportunity to focus their program in at least two areas.
The undergraduate program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.