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Impact of Materials on Society

  Materials Research Society Foundation

The Impact of Materials on Society subcommittee partnered with faculty from engineering, liberal arts and sciences and education at the University of Florida to develop an introductory level course suitable for undergraduate and community college students.

This course explores the connections between the discovery of new materials such as ceramics, glass, concrete, metals, plastics, semiconductors etc. and the development of technologies and social structures worldwide. To see these connections, the course will fuse basic concepts in materials science and engineering with perspectives and methods from anthropology, history, English, classics, literature, and sociology.

This project aims to build creative thinking by giving students enough exposure to the cultural and physical dimensions of materials and materials science to enable them to see current engineering problems in new ways, and to think globally as well as locally.

By targeting this class to first-semester students, it will enable students to draw lasting, creative connections between their general education requirements and core materials science and engineering curricula throughout their undergraduate careers.



  1. To enable materials science and engineering students to obtain "the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context."
  2. To change the "difficulty" perception of materials science and engineering by exposing students in any major to the role, values, and importance of engineering.
  3. To give students in any major competence in basic materials science and engineering principles.


The course features weekly units about different materials, including lectures by materials science and engineering faculty, case study presentations by humanities faculty, video lessons from materials scientists and researchers, and interdisciplinary discussions and activities to apply knowledge and explore current engineering opportunities and challenges.


If you would like to learn more about the Impact of Materials on Society course, the modular lessons and the online course, or how to pilot the course on your campus, contact:

Kevin Jones
University of Florida
Department of Materials Science and Engineering

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