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ENGR 100.120:  The Greatest Materials of All Time (MSE)


Ken Alfano (TechComm),

William De Herder (TechComm),

Max Shtein (MSE)

Fall Term

“Research-grade equipment….available to undergraduates…to understand the stuff they’re working with. Every engineer is going to find something in this class that is going to be valuable for them for the kind of engineering they go on to do.”

– Tim Chambers, Faculty

Course Description:

“Stone Age,” “Iron Age,” “Silicon Valley” – these terms reflect major aspects of human civilization. From textiles to sugar, to transistors and smartphones – various products have proven critical developments in human history. What materials made them possible? What new industries did they spawn? What new problems did they create? What might come next? In this course, we’ll cover:

    • A historical view of materials, looking at how the field pervades many disciplines
    • When materials serve as “function shifters” with performance that resolves previous trade-offs
    • Identifying dilemmas that require big breakthroughs involving materials, and resource ecosystems (“technology bundles”) that drive a material’s role

Term Project

Investigate a material property via simulation and/or experimentation, and consider its significance in the design of relevant products/technologies


Skills and tools relating to metallurgy, measurement instruments, solar energy, etc.

Student looking through magnifying glass while soldering
Three students wearing goggles looking over beaker with ice and wires during lab
Student using multimeter while viewing laptop screen