Course Home Page
Welcome to MATSE 081: Materials in Today's World.
We will be using a textbook written specifically for this course. The book, like the rest of course material, is web-based. It's is a required text and it can be purchased by accessing the following website:
Please take some time to review the Course Syllabus to become familiar with the instructor, assignments, and course schedule. The videos on this site feature Dr. Paul Howell, who taught this course before his retirement. When you view these videos, it is important that you remember that a number of important things have changed. There is a new textbook. The lessons will be linked to the new text. Scheduling details will be changed.
Your grade will be based on your average performance on weekly quizzes that are based on the following: topics covered in the text, information from the videos, and information obtained from the web. Because this is a web-based course, you will need to go out to the web to find the answers to some questions (don't worry, I will tell you which questions those are).
The course will be structured so our interaction reduces our common tendency to wait to the very end of the semester to do the work. What this means is you will be given assignments on a regular basis throughout the semester. At that due date for a particular topic, you will have access to the quiz pertinent to that date. That quiz will stay up on line for about 2 weeks. At the end of this period the quiz will be removed. For those of you who may be highly motivated, we will try to find a way to permit you to work ahead and finish the course early if you so desire. However, your grade will not be posted until the end of the semester.
Paul Brown, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. This is me →
You will see Professor Howell in many of the videos. He built this course from the ground up and invested a lot of time in creating the visuals.
This Web site provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The Resources menu at left links to important supporting materials, while the Course Outline menu links to the course lessons. ANGEL, Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of this course, as well, as it provides the primary communications, calendaring, and submission tools for the course.
The course is available in two formats:
- Classroom Format: Uses the conventional face-to-face class format.
- Web-Only Format: All instruction is delivered on the Web.
We are surrounded by "materials." So what is a "material"? Materials are the components of which pretty much everything is made. Concrete, terracotta, steel, stainless steel, copper, glass, plexiglass, and teflon are all materials. We call them materials because we rely on the properties they have. So what are "properties"? Strength is a property. Ability to transmit light is a property. Ability to conduct electricity is a property. Each of these properties is of technological importance. In the world of Materials Science, materials are studied, characterized and designed to offer properties optimal to their application. For example, steel (which is sometimes called carbon steel) is very strong, but is susceptible to rusting (corrosion). Stainless steel is far less susceptible to corrosion. But it is more expensive. So if was necessary to use steel because of its good mechanical properties, we would select stainless steel for applications where it is critical that corrosion not occur.
As you can see from our short list of materials, some are metals (steel, stainless steel, copper), some (concrete, terracotta, and glass) are ceramics, and some (plexiglas and teflon) are plastics. We are members of the Materials World, and they contribute significantly to the standard of living that we enjoy.
This course takes students on a historical, scientific, and cultural exploration through the world of materials — from the cosmos to the atom, from Asimov to Pauling, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern day Pennsylvania, and from early man’s primitive stone tools to the complex materials that help us build, communicate, travel, work and live in the 21st century.
Central to the course content is the text: The Materials World written specifically for students being introduced to the world of materials science and engineering. Complementing the text will be a broad array of resources made available to students through this Website. Weekly quizzes and surveys will serve their traditional purposes — to help guide students through the material and assess the course objectives. Weekly videos have been selected as a means for drawing attention to important ideas, misconceptions, and concepts related to the use of materials. Through these combined experiences, MATSE 081 will meet the goals established for the Natural Sciences General Education knowledge domain (GN).
Learning on the Web
The use of the World Wide Web permits us to teach beyond the traditional borders of the classroom and to a wider and more diverse audience. The lack of scheduled meeting times translates into opportunity for those who are struggling with scheduling issues or who are working students, adult learners, or taking classes from a geographically remote location. Successful students will commit regular hours and energy to the course, manage and allocate their time wisely, attend to weekly assignments and deadlines, and participate fully in the course activities and experiences that are group or team-based. Success in these areas translates directly into success in the course and, more importantly, into a richer, more enjoyable online experience. The "engine" that helps us deliver a complete online learning experience to students is ANGEL, Penn State's own course management system, which is available to students 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although most course content is located on this Web page, as a part of the Open Educational Resource (OER) Initiative, all “for credit” material is located on ANGEL.
MATSE 081 will continue to test the Dutton Institute's working hypothesis regarding general education courses: “Student engagement” — defined as a quantity and quality of time spent in learning tasks and activities — is directly and positively correlated with student satisfaction, participation, and performance, and consequently, is the single-best indicator of student success and satisfaction in academic course work.
As such, MATSE 081 was the first e-Education course to benefit from a newly formed collaboration between the Dutton Institute and the Schreyer Institute for Innovation in Learning, a partnership designed to improve the strategies and methodologies used to assess and evaluate courses and their effectiveness. MATSE 081 recently moved into an ANGEL quizzing environment, allowing for full, instant, and automated feedback available to the students. This was designed not only to greatly improve the processes of creating, delivering, and documenting online tests for instructors, but also to improve the student test-taking experience through greater convenience, richer quizzing features, and improved feedback, scoring, and reporting mechanisms.
Please Note: Courseware offered through OER is not eligible for credit toward any course, degree, or certificate offered by The Pennsylvania State University. This site does not provide access to the quizzing tools, assignment dropboxes, communication tools, etc. Although this Webspace will provide complete content for this course, access to graded materials will only be offered to students who are registered for the course and in the ANGEL course management system. If you are interested in enrolling in this course or learning more about Penn State's enrollment process, please see the Penn State Admissions website.
Organization of the Course
The course is organized in a modular format. Each of the six modules has central theme. The duration of a module will be 2 or 3 weeks. Within each module there will be one or more lessons. Each lesson will be about one week in duration. Each lesson will typically involve reading one or more chapters of the text, reviewing a video, and then taking a short quiz. These quizzes will be based on the content of the weekly video and on web-research. At the end of each module a quiz will be given that covers the materials from the text. The following is a list of the modules and their lengths:
Module 1: weeks 1-2 . Introduction emphasizing the historical context of materials discovery and development.
Module 2: weeks 3-4. Organization and structure emphasizing the relationships between organization of elements, ions or molecules to form materials and the properties they show.
Module 3: weeks 5-6. Metals describing the path taken from mining metal ores to producing advanced metallic materials.
Module 4: weeks 7-8 . How does crystallization occur and what happens if it doesn't.
Module 5: weeks 9-10. Materials behavior of non-metals, ceramics, plastics,
Module 6: weeks 11-12. Application areas for materials - materials for implantation in us, materials to move electrons, and materials that interact with light.
What is this course about?
The course objective is to inform you about the world of materials. It shouldn't take very long for you to develop an appreciation for how much you rely on the behavior of man-made materials to allow you to live comfortably. As you sit at your desk and look at this screen, take a minute and look around. About the only natural material you are likely to see is wood. Everything else was produced by someone who knew enough about materials properties to tailor them to serve your needs.
What do I need to know?
This is a concepts-based course. There are very few equations that will show up and, if you remember anything from high school algebra and geometry, these should not be a problem for you. The other thing you will need to know is how to interpret graphs. We will be plotting things like strength vs composition or strength vs length change, nothing very complicated.
What will I be expected to do?
You will be expected to watch the videos. Some videos are embedded in the course materials. These videos have been specifically and locally produced for this course. Other videos are "linked" to the course. This means we give you a web address and then you go to that address, locate the video and watch it. You will be expected to watch the videos that are linked to the course. These videos are commercially available and have been professionally produced. They have been selected because of their relevance to the topics of the course. You will be expected to read the chapters assigned from the text: The Materials World. This is an e.book and it not available in the book store. It must be ordered over the web by going to the website: e-educationalenterprises.com. It is important that you recognize this is copy-righted material for which unauthorized reproduction is not permitted.
How will I be graded?
You will be graded based on your performance on 8 quizlets and on 6 quizzes. The quizlets will be based on the linked videos and on questions related to the topics of these videos that must be looked up on the web. You will also be graded on 6 quizzes. Each quiz will be based on the chapters of the text pertinent to the module. The way I have constructed the quizzes is as follows: I went through the book page-by-page and picked a question or two from each page.
How should I plan on allocating my time?
The modular materials will NOT remain open throughout the semester. There are a number of reasons for this. The two most important are to discourage people from doing nothing for most of the semester and then trying to get through the course in the last couple of weeks. The second is there may be restrictions on how long we can hold the commercially-produced videos open. This will be true for the videos for which the university will need to pay royalties to view. Generally, you will be given about 10 days to complete the quizlets and quizzes associated with each module after the completion of the module. For example, Module 1 is 2 weeks in duration. So you will be expected to get all quizzes and quizlets completed by the Wed of the 4th week. The module will then be closed.
What if I have an emergency?
These happen, we understand that. However, being lazy is not an emergency. If you have a legitimate reason for not being able to complete assignment associated with a module, contact the course manager and we will try to work something out. But you will likely find we are more accommodating if you tell us in real time and don't wait for weeks to get around to it.
What about cheating?
Don't do it! I have tried to structure this course to make it easier for you to get a good grade by being honest than it will be if you try to cheat or to "game the system". We have our ways of catching you if you cheat. If we do, you won't like the consequences.
Well that's it then--let's move on to the actual contents of the course.