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Industry involvement enhances classroom, lab experiences

6/28/2006 —

Industry involvement in student capstone research projects has been incorporated into Penn State DuBois' Materials Engineering Technology program, providing real-life experience for students.

Applied research projects are integrated into the 2MATE curricula through courses MAET 205 and 296, allowing students to execute a semester-long project based upon project availability and the students’ interest. Projects can include confidential disclosure agreements between Penn State University and the participating company based on the organization's need. Materials, processing, and testing are frequently provided by the participating organization as in-kind support.

"These courses allow the students to directly apply classroom teachings into projects of currently relevant engineering and technical interest to the participating organization," Instructor in Engineering Steven C. Johnson said.

Some example projects include studying dimensional variation in processing of iron-based powder blends with GKN-DuBois, determining structure and mechanical properties of 3D direct write printed M4 tool steel with The ExOne Company of Irwin, and pressureless sintering of advanced ceramics with Morgan AM&T of St. Marys.

"Projects like these generate a win-win situation," Johnson said. "The participating organizations have needed technical investigations performed and get to know the students, possibly as potential employees. The students gain an educational experience will beyond that of a conventional classroom and get to do some fun work."

Additionally, the DuBois campus also performs contract materials research projects at the request of industry or as a result of a successful proposal submission, according to Johnson. These R&D projects can assist regional companies desiring to extend or advance the science and engineering of their business. And because Penn State-DuBois is an undergraduate university, student involvement as wage payroll or work-study employees is essential to successful execution of these research contracts, said Johnson.

The Materials Engineering Technology program is an Associate degree
program specializing in technical materials engineering, which has been offered at Penn State DuBois since 1994. The program provides technical materials engineering instruction with a specialization in particulate materials, with more than 3,000 square feet of laboratory space. The program is located only at the DuBois campus of Penn State due to the concentration of powdered metals and particulate materials industry in the region.

"The program is home to the only analytical scanning electron microscope in the Tri-county area," Johnson added. "Because of this unique capability, use of the SEM is open to regional companies for free."

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