Accreditation and Objectives
ABET is the recognized accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technology. ABET is a federation of 35 professional and technical societies representing these fields. Among the most respected accreditation organizations in the United States, ABET has provided leadership and quality assurance in higher education for over 80 years.
ABET accredits over 3,709 programs at 752 colleges and universities in 30 countries. Over 2,200 dedicated volunteers participate annually in ABET evaluation activities.
ABET is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
The Material Science and Engineering program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET,http://www.abet.org.
Materials Science and Engineering Program Objectives
The Materials Science and Engineering Department’s undergraduate Program Educational Objectives (PEOs), as collectively established, modified, and updated by its faculty and other constituencies, state that within a few years after graduation from Michigan Tech, alumni of the program will have:
- leveraged their education and MSE degree to begin a professionally-satisfying career compatible with their interests and goals.
- demonstrated an ability to perform their duties that meet or exceed the expectations of their employers, peers, employees, and/or customers.
- pursued personal, intellectual, and professional development and opportunities in their chosen profession and career.
Student Educational Outcomes
By graduation, students will have:
a. An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering
MSEs use math, science, and engineering-based constitutive behavior to model, understand and predict material properties, processes, and structure. Models and descriptions appropriate at all dimensional scales (electronic, atomistic, molecular, microstructural, mesoscopic, and macroscopic) serve to assist the MSE students in the design and development of new materials and processes, and to promote the understanding of the origins and mechanisms of property development. Lifetime analyses (e.g., corrosion, fatigue) also require strong foundations in math, the sciences, and engineering.
b. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
Discovery is a critical component in the MSE discipline. Characterization of structure, properties, and process are fundamental to higher levels of understanding, optimization, utilization, and technological advancement. The design of experiments and the effective presentation of results, including written, oral, graphical, and tabular forms, coupled with meaningful ties to theory, are necessary.
c. An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, societal, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
The University Materials Council submitted a white paper to ABET in 2007 to clarify how design can be defined and implemented by MSE departments. In this document, they state, “. . . design in MSE may include: design and evaluation of a material for a specific application; reverse engineering and design improvements involving materials; design and evaluation or optimization of a materials processing method; or design of a method for determining, controlling, or selecting materials characteristics or properties.” Some use the need to make a technical- or scientific-based decision, or an iterative-loop, towards meeting a project objective as evidence of design.
d. An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
MSE is a broad field, touching and impacting just about every discipline in one way or another. MSEs must have a breadth of abilities and background to interact effectively with their professional colleagues in industrial or scientific settings. Fundamental studies in chemistry, physics, programming, generic engineering skills, humanities and social studies, as well as good communication skills, enable the MSE to effectively connect and interact within a diverse circle of professional colleagues.
e. An ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems
Nearly all MSE core and engineering subject courses require students to solve problems of both a traditional or classic nature, as well as problems unique to the discipline of MSE. The senior design experience provides students with the additional opportunity to deal with open-ended problem solving skills, and with solving unanticipated problems, toward meeting an objective or goal.
f. An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
MSEs are involved in all aspects of engineering innovation, design, and implementation. Many applications ultimately involve public trust, safety, and societal well-being. Professional responsibilities may be considered those one owes to employers (company loyalty, adherence to policies, attention to the company’s interests) and to the profession as a whole (using appropriate techniques, applying disciplinary standards to one’s work), while ethical responsibilities typically extend to individuals and groups and involve the impact of one’s action on the full range of stakeholders.
g. An ability to communicate effectively
Engineers must understand not only the mechanics of communication (grammar, transitions, well-designed PowerPoint slides), but also how to adapt documents and presentations to the needs of a wide range of audiences including technical colleagues, managers, technicians, investors, and clients.
h. The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
MSEs are involved in the primary beneficiation, processing, manufacturing, and specification of materials for engineering applications. Each of these steps involves quality of life issues for society, e.g., resource utilization, energy consumption, economic prosperity, and environmental stewardship.
i. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
Like all technology-heavy fields, MSE continues to evolve. Successful graduates require skills that enable them to learn new technologies, concepts, and skills appropriate for present and future contributions.
j. A knowledge of contemporary issues
Interpretation of what constitutes a contemporary issue for purposes of engineering accreditation varies. Some view it as a recognition of world and local events and the impact the MSE discipline may have on such events – for example, hurricane-resistant materials, materials for energy, weapons research, etc. Others view contemporary issues as emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and biomaterials. Likely, both interpretations are appropriate.
k. An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice
Proficiency with certain established tools is necessary for effective MSE practice (ex., computational skills, statistics, basic metallographic and microscopy skills, materials characterization techniques, and fundamental processing tools). Confidence and competence in operating basic laboratory or manufacturing based equipment is essential.
Criteria Specific to MSE Programs
1. The ability to use advanced science (such as chemistry, biology, and physics), computational techniques and engineering principles to materials systems implied by the program modifier, e.g., ceramics, metals, polymers, biomaterials, composite materials.
The Materials Science and Engineering program at Michigan Tech delivers instruction relevant to metal, ceramic, polymer, and semiconductor material forms in its core curriculum. Instruction in other material subdisciplines, e.g., composites, nanomaterials, biomaterials, magnetic and optical materials is supported through the instruction of common fundamentals and principles. In some instances, student-selectable electives and/or minors are available (e.g., minors in polymers or nanotechnology; electives in composites, ceramics, advanced physical metallurgy, light and photonic materials, etc.)
2. The ability to integrate the understanding of the scientific and engineering principles underlying the four major elements of the field: structure, properties, processing, and performance related to material systems appropriate to the field.
The manifestation of the processing-structure-properties-performance paradigm is a constant theme throughout the curriculum, and is emphasized as a distinguishing characteristic of MSE relative to other peer disciplines.
3. The ability to apply and integrate knowledge from each of the above four elements of the field using experimental, computational, and statistical methods to solve materials problems including selection and design consistent with the program educational objectives.
Experimental, computational, and statistical skills are threaded throughout the curriculum utilizing fundamental courses in the sciences (e.g., university chemistry and physics), engineering (e.g., fundamentals of engineering, engineering mechanics), and MSE core courses. In the latter, MSE-relevant examples and applications are provided as a means to practice the application of fundamental concepts to the ability to select and design traditional and new materials for a wide range of engineering applications.