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“Materials” Education: The Second Time Around

  • Rustum Roy


Robert Sproull, the director of AREA (Advanced Research Projects Agency) in the Pentagon, recorded that Pennsylvania State University and Carnegie Institute of Technology first made proposals in 1957 for “interdisciplinary block funding” in what would essentially become “materials” research. But it was the industrial push (by W.O. Baker of AT&T Bell Laboratories and C.G. Suits of General Electric) that helped ARPA start the funding of 12 interdisciplinary materials research laboratories (IDMRLs) between 1960 and 1963. Pennsylvania State University was added in 1963 as a special modest grant limited to materials preparation (synthesis and processing). NASA and the Atomic Energy Commission added six more within two years. The first interdisciplinary degree program in “materials” (then called solid-state technology), administered directly by a graduate school committee drawn from 10 departments, was started under my chairmanship, at Penn State in 1959-60. Probably the first departmental degree program in which a metallurgy department expanded its scope (and changed its name) to include other materials was started at nearly the same time at North western University by Prof. M.E. Fine. It is noteworthy that at least in these two cases the intellectual and curricular argument for integration of degree work preceded the research grants and organization. These two separate patterns have both now permeated the entire national system, and we should clearly distinguish between them. By 1969 the first national colloquy on materials, held at Penn State and published under the title Materials Science and Engineering in the U.S., took an evaluative look at materials education.



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1.Materials Science and Engineering in the U.S. edited by Roy, R., (Proc, 1st National Colloquy on the Field of Materials, Penn State Press, University Park, 1970).
2.Materials and Man's Needs (Report of COSMAT Committee, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC, 1974).
3.Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s. NAS Press, Washington, DC (1989).
4.Roy, R., MRS Bulletin XVII (3) (1992) p. 59.
5. U.S. Congress, Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Hearings on Shortage of Scientists (April 8, 1992).
6.Dewey, John, School and Society: The Child and the Curriculum (University of Chicago Press, 1956).
7.y Gasset, Jose Ortega, Mission of the University, translated with an Introduction by Lee Nostrand, Howard (Princeton University Press, 1944).
8.Rutherford, J., Science for All Americans, Project 2061 (AAAS Press, 1990).
9.Hurd, Paul, Theory Into Practice 30 (4) (1991).
10.Adkin, Myron, “Teach Science for Science's Sake; for Global Competitiveness Try Technology,” TIES (Drexel University, Spring 1991).
11.Bruner, Jerome, J. Sci. Education and Technol. 1 (1992) p. 512.
12.Van Vlack, al., JME 5 (3) (1983) p. 337.

“Materials” Education: The Second Time Around

  • Rustum Roy


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