Materials in Today's World




In addition to fundamental materials properties, which material to use in an application can be limited by a number of factors. Some of these factors include the cost of production, availability of starting materials (natural resources), level of pollution resulting from the manufacturing process, and amount of waste produced at the end of the lifecycle of the application. In this lesson, I will present relatively brief overviews of economic, environmental, and societal considerations that are important in the materials selection process.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Diagram the total materials life cycle, and briefly discuss relevant issues for each stage of the cycle.
  • List the inputs and outputs for the materials life cycle analysis/assessment scheme.
  • Cite issues that are relevant to the "green design" philosophy of product design.
  • Discuss recyclability/disposability issues relative to the three primary classifications of solid materials and composite materials.
  • List and briefly discuss three controllable factors that affect the cost of a materials product.

Lesson Roadmap

Lesson 2 will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the course calendar for specific due dates.

Lesson Roadmap
To Read

Pages 22 to 35 (Chapter 2) of Materials for Today's World, Custom Edition for Penn State University (custom e-book)

Reading on course website for Lesson 2

To Watch Making Stuff: Cleaner
To Do Lesson 2 Quiz


If you have general questions about the course content or structure, please post them to the General Questions and Discussion forum in Canvas. If your question is of a more personal nature, feel free to send a message to all faculty and TA's through Canvas email. We will check daily to respond.