Mark Licurse, Engages Students via Remote Learning and Tabletop SEM

Mark Licurse, Engages Students via Remote Learning and Tabletop SEM posted: 02/20/2021

This past fall, 2020, LRSM’s Director of Education and Outreach, Dr. Mark Licurse, and Prof. David Pope, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, developed a new online-only class “Failure Analysis of Engineering Materials.” The class was featured by Penn Engineering Today in an article by Melissa Pappas. The spin was that it was originally planned to be even more hands-on than other classes, focused on real-world problems and failures, but the pandemic forced them to start from scratch to ensure students could engage virtually. “We had designed this course to be very hands-on and expose students to real-world situations where materials fail, break or collapse, having potentially devastating consequences,” says Licurse. “We would ask students to act like detectives to figure out how and why a material had failed, showing the applicable significance of materials science and mechanical engineering.” 

Luckily, they were able to take many illustrative images using a new tabletop Scanning Electron Microscope, purchased with help of the Penn MRSEC. The resulting class was well-received with high levels of student engagement. Clearly the pandemic is changing all aspects of life, but from here the question will be how will this class’ success shape future versions of the class? This remains unknown, but lessons learned will immediately be applied to the LRSM’s Summer Course in Materials Science for High School Students (the Penn Summer Science Initiative).

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