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Problems in Engineering and Science Education: Why Do We Have a Weakness in Materials Synthesis and Processing?

  • Thomas W. Eagar

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A 1989 report by the National Research Council (NRC) entitled, Materials Science and Engineering in the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials, strongly emphasizes that the United States as a nation has devoted insufficient resources to materials synthesis and processing, yet it fails to suggest why. If we are to correct such an imbalance, it is essential that we understand the cause so we can effect a solution.

In my opinion, the cause of our failure to place sufficient emphasis on synthesis and processing is more fundamental than the study of materials science and engineering alone; it is symptomatic of the way we teach all science and engineering. We have failed to instill balanced attitudes of inquiry within our students. They have emulated our academic approach to defining and solving problems, an approach that works very well in academia but unfortunately is not always effective in the world of business and manufacturing. As a result, to be successful in the commercial sector, the young engineer or scientist must “unlearn” much of what has been taught in the universities.

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1.Baddour, R.F.et al., J. Engineering Education 31 (8) (April 1961). [This is a “report on engineering design” by eleven faculty presented to the Dean of Engineering at MIT, November 1959].
2.Augustine, N., Augustine's Laws, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Problems in Engineering and Science Education: Why Do We Have a Weakness in Materials Synthesis and Processing?

  • Thomas W. Eagar

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