In a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute (2021), an estimated 2.1 million manufacturing-related jobs may go unfilled by 2030 — and this could cost the U.S. economy as much as $1 trillion. MatEdU News and its partners have reported on the manufacturing skills gap before (in this Materials Science Careers post, for example) and offered educational strategies to help mitigate it, including a new training workshop in early 2022.
A wide range of universities and colleges, including Tennessee Tech University, Edmonds College, Purdue University Northwest (links go to related programs or professors), and many others, are lining up to help educators guide students to deeper understanding and knowledge of advanced manufacturing methods, using cutting edge technology and innovative approaches.
Using Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the upcoming workshop in January 2022 will give educators the tools to, at minimum, keep up with, and hopefully outrun this seemingly faster skills gap. Manufacturers are looking for new ways to teach workers new skills and VR and AR are increasingly being used. Community college professors and high school educators can use this workshop to move to the forefront of this shift to speed up and improve training for and student awareness of manufacturing.
From January 10 – 14, 2022, this NSF-funded virtual workshop on Digital Manufacturing (DM) Instruction using Virtual Reality (VR) technology will cover VR-based digital manufacturing instruction practices.
The workshop is directed toward community college instructors and high-school teachers interested in digital manufacturing instruction using virtual reality tools and techniques. A stipend of $600 and a high-tech VR headset will be provided.
Please apply for the workshop only if you can commit to attend the entire workshop and complete the workshop requirements. Application deadline is December 10, 2021. Applicants can apply via the 2022 Digital Manufacturing online application here, including the full expectations and requirements. The number of participants is limited to 30 and successful applicants will be announced by mid-December. Contact information for the outreach coordinator, Michelle Davis, at the Center for Manufacturing Research, Tennessee Tech University, is also at the main application link above.
Learn more about how Project MANEUVER (Manufacturing Education Using Virtual Environment Resources; NSF Award # 1700674) is developing an affordable VR framework.
In a National Science Foundation (NSF) article in late 2020, The future of how things are made, the NSF began asking researchers to “reimagine the future of how things are made, laying the groundwork for manufacturing that is sustainable; takes full advantage of artificial intelligence; incorporates advancements in fields such as bioengineering and materials science…”
NSF is already helping those imaginations to move fast, by investing approximately $250 million per year in advanced manufacturing research. The article states that “advances in computer-aided design to drive development of 3D printing and sustained advanced nanomaterials, NSF’s decades-long investment in fundamental research has transformed manufacturing, resulting in products modern society has come to depend on.”
Advanced manufacturing, for many people, brings to mind large machinery that melts, cuts, and bends metal, among other things, but a fundamental part of innovation in manufacturing and many other industries, is the field of materials science.
Materials science is increasingly joining together with other specialties, in this post we’re highlighting how biology, or more specifically, Biotechnology experts are teaming up with Materials Science experts. MatEdU and InnovATEBIO, led by NSF Principal Investigator, Dr. Linnea Fletcher, and based at Austin Community College, are teaming up to create and increase technician-level skill to serve the companies, new and old, at the intersection of these two fields.
The InnovATEBIO website states: “Advancing the U.S. bioeconomy will require a growing biotechnology workforce that is well educated and diverse. Located at Austin Community College in Texas and partnering with institutions of higher education, high schools, industry, and non-profits throughout the country, the InnovATEBIO National Biotechnology Education Center, an NSF-funded Advanced Technological Education Center, works with the biotech community to scope out workforce needs and address them by educating highly skilled technicians. InnovATEBIO supports a cadre of well-trained instructors and is helping to increase the number and quality of biotechnology education programs, as well as introducing a wide range of underrepresented students to biotechnology.”
For example, in her detailed InnovATEBIO presentation, Bio-inspired and Sustainable Design: Towards Functional Materials (YouTube video link), Dr. LaShanda Korley, at the University of Delaware, highlighted how her Center (funded under the NSF PIRE program) takes inspiration from “nature to design new materials that can change toughness in response to their environment, are safer and more effective biological implants, will transmit nerve-like electrical signals, and can respond to the environment to initiate biological processes with an eye toward soft robotic applications.”
Like MatEdU with its National Online Resource Center and course modules, InnovATEBIO offers “Courses in a box” with materials to help instructors get a new course off the ground quickly.
These resources may include:
reading assignments or references to a textbook or articles
exams and quizzes
Here are a few of the InnovATEBIO courses:
Bioinformatics for Biology and Biotech
Contributed By: Sandra Porter
This bioinformatics course was developed by Dr. Sandra Porter over a ten year period as a semester-long course in the biotechnology program at Austin Community College with a …
Contributed By: Oana Martin
This course introduces the basic concepts involved in the separation of molecules. The purpose of this course is to give students a basic understanding of the basic underlying …
Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus
Welcome to the Hazardous Materials course-in-a-box. This course is not designed as a safety training course. The educational philosophy of this course, like that of most of the …
Laboratory Math for Biotechnology
Contributed By: Mary Ellen Kraus
Bench work in the biotechnology laboratory requires that technicians possess certain fundamental math skills and the ability to apply these skills.
If you are interested in Biotechnology jobs, including biomaterials jobs, you will want to visit the BioTech Careers page on LinkedIn (via InnovATEBIO) as well as the main Biotech-Careers.org site that is run by the Digital World Biology team (again funded via InnovATEBIO). The site receives 500,000-plus visitors each year and helps students find biotech careers.
According to market analysts, the unmanned autonomous vehicle market (UAV, but also aka Drones) is estimated to exceed $100-plus billion in the near future. Demand is coming from the commercial and civil government sectors, as well as in construction, agriculture, and insurance, among others. For education, this presents an equally large opportunity — to prepare students for technical work involving drones.
At MatEdU, being a well-known resource for materials and materials education, we have been keenly watching technician education strive to keep up with these market forecasts.
The Use of Composite Materials in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
As most MatEdU News readers know, drones are smaller than traditional aircraft and that brings a limited “fuel” capacity (lithium-ion batteries, in most) limiting flight time. Add a payload (as Amazon, or the military want to do) or equipment such as a camera or 3D scanning sensors and you shrink that flight time dramatically. With that in mind, composite materials and exploring new ways of creating lighter materials becomes paramount to market growth and student opportunities as technicians, researchers, and operators.
Composite materials take on an important, arguably a pivotal role, in making a drone. This is part of the reason why MatEdU has partnered with the National Center for Autonomous Technologies (NCAT) housed at Northland Community and Technical College as the nation’s first accredited UAS Maintenance program.
“Studying the Advanced Materials used in a drone’s composite structure is a key objective of the UAS maintenance certificate program. An alliance between NCAT and MatEdU is a natural fit as students working with drones are going to need to understand how to repair and care for the structural elements of a UAV,” Mel Cossette, principal investigator of MatEdU, said. Cossette is also a Master Mentor in the Mentor-Connect project that mentored Jonathan Beck, principal investigator of the center as he and the NCAT team worked toward their most recent and successful NSF ATE grant.
Materials Science Impacts The Entire Drone
If you were wondering how materials science and drones come together, consider that almost every part of the drone can be improved by deeper understanding of materials. For instance:
The frame itself holds everything together. It needs to be strong and light. Composites and potential jobs are discussed in the recent Materials Education News post on “What Is Materials Science?.”
Motors & propellers: lifting off with durable, tough propellers.
As the unmanned autonomous vehicle market grows, so does the need for skilled technicians. The NCAT/MatEdU alliance will be leading out in that marketplace to help students around the nation prepare for the opportunity.
The High Impact Technology Exchange Conference (HI-TEC) is an annual event centered on advanced technological education. It’s goal is to bring together secondary and postsecondary educators, counselors, industry professionals, trade organizations, and technicians so they can update their knowledge and skills.
On the surface, most of the HI-TEC presentations do not have “Materials Science” in the title, but like so many STEM-related curriculum and research areas, materials provide a foundation for many of these disciplines and degree programs. Much of what MatEdU has done and continues to do is to find the people and resources interested in advancing materials science, particularly where it intersects with influencing and driving technician hiring in the not-so-distant future.
Charged with preparing America’s skilled technical workforce, the event focuses on the preparation needed by the existing and future workforce for companies in the high-tech sectors that drive our nation’s economy.
HI-TEC explores the convergence of scientific disciplines and technologies including:
Advanced Manufacturing Technologies
Bio and Agricultural Technologies
Energy and Environmental Technologies
Information, Communications, and Geospatial Technologies
Learning, Evaluation, and Research
Micro and Nanotechnologies
Materials Plays Important Role in Health and Biotechnology
Materials Science combined with Engineering often means Biotechnology, as our world faces more health crises and challenges. The HI-TEC event offered seven different presentations focused on biosciences and biotechnology, to dive into just one category from the above list. With 80-plus presentations, there was something for every participant.
The InnovATEBIO National Center for Biotechnology Education, located at Austin Community College, Texas, one of MatEdU’s most recent allies (a more detailed post is coming soon) presented on how their national center serves as a model for ATE National Center Websites and Education Databases and how they built out their community and social presence. ATE national centers are expected to develop and support communities focused on educating technicians for the high-technology fields that drive our nation’s economy.
Todd Smith, Director, InnovATEBIO, Digital World Biology, Seattle, WA;
Sandra Porter, President, Bridge to Bio-Link’s Future and Biotech Careers, Digital World Biology, Seattle, WA
The HI-TEC event showcases how schools join forces with industry and nonprofits to advance technician education. MatEdU is an example of this and supports a range of technician-oriented programs across the nation, serving as a resource repository. MatEdU maintains a national network of industry and educational professionals to increase the number and diversity of highly skilled technicians ready for employment. Likewise, the HI-TEC event is organized to disseminate how NSF ATE projects are improving and building technician programs across nearly all industries, from aviation to medicine, automobiles to drones.
The July 2021 event has over 80 sessions available on the HI-TEC On-Demand Sessions page on a wide range of topics: Advanced Manufacturing, Biotechnology, Cybersecurity, Diversity, Equity, And Inclusion, Employer Engagement, Energy And Environmental Technologies, Engineering Technologies, Future Of Work, Grant Funding, Information Technology, Internet Of Things, Learning, Evaluation, And Research, and Micro Nanotechnologies (including a post on the Micro Nano Technology Education Center News page lists out HI-TEC presentations in that area).
We get asked this question often at MatEdU: What is materials science? As the only two-year materials science degree in Washington State, home to an 11,000 square foot advanced technology lab housed at Edmonds College, we know how to answer it, too.
“Materials science focuses on the relationship between the atomic and molecular structure of a material, the properties of the material (such as strength, electrical conductivity or optical properties), and ways in which the material is manufactured or processed into a shape or product.” You can read more on our What Is Materials Science page, of course.
However, most of the people that ask us that question are truly asking one of a handful of other questions, such as:
Can I get a “good” job in Materials Science?
Is material science a good career choice?
Is material science hard?
What do you mean by material science?
What does material science do?
What is material science used for?
Can you give me examples of “Types of Materials” that exist?
As a National Science Foundation project, we want to answer those deeper questions because our mission at MatEdU is to help educate students on career opportunities in Materials Science. There are many jobs that require only a certificate of completion and some that require a Ph.D. in the field. We tend to highlight the ones that require anything from a certificate (Boeing example below) up to a two-year degree, but we have links and partners at the four-year degree level on this site.
Materials Science Careers (a few example of job titles)
Composite Manufacturing Technician
Quality and Testing Technician
Composite Assembly Technician
Composite Design Technician
Composite Tooling Technician
Materials Manufacturing Technician
Industrial Engineering Technician
Nondestructive Testing Technician
Boeing, with numerous facilities in Washington State, has worked closely with Edmonds College over the years, particularly under its Composites Training program, to train engineering technicians for a variety of job titles:
Students who complete the 15 credit composites Certificate of Completion are eligible to apply for Boeing’s Blue Streak Mechanic, Composite Manufacturing Technician or Tooling Inspector Apprenticeship programs. Learn more at the The IAM/Boeing Joint Apprenticeship Program.
For some, the term “apprenticeship” comes with antiquated ideas — that jobs requiring apprenticeship are low-tech, manual labor, and not desirable. Nothing could be further from today’s reality where prospective candidates have an average starting salary of $70,000. In fact, Department of Labor data shows that in addition to that above-average starting salary, apprentice-based programs retain their employees at 94 percent. Apprentice program participants also have a $300,000 lifetime earning advantage over many other trades and careers. To make sure you don’t miss an opportunity:
24,000+ Apprenticeship Programs Across the Nation
$70K Average Starting Salary
94% Employment Retention
$300K+ Lifetime Earning Advantage
There are 26,000 registered apprenticeship programs active across the nation.
In 2020, more than 221,000 individuals nationwide entered the apprenticeship system.
82,000 apprentices graduated from the apprenticeship system in FY 2020.
More info on the Materials Science Technology Certificate of Completion (which is only 15 credits, or roughly one quarter). These three required courses, for the certificate, will help you to demonstrate knowledge, comprehension, and application of concepts related to metals, ceramics, polymers, and composites.
Ultimately, students want to answer this question before they start exploring materials science, can I get a good job in this field? The full two-year AAS-T in Materials Science Technology page is loaded with all the details (and it is a professional-technical degree).
To get a practical sense of works that students do in these in-depth courses, take a look at the composites projects that students have completed (which involve carbon fiber materials and skills):
This chart goes beyond the basic question of What Is Materials Science (the simple question that started this post) and the exploration of materials science as a specialty and as a career. Here is a visual chart showing a variety of career pathways that the Edmonds College Materials Science Technology program helps you explore.
Since we mentioned Types of Materials above, and it is one of our most popular requests and related to the “what is materials science” question, the Types page provides a short, but comprehensive list and description of 12 of the most common materials that people study (on the “Types” page each topic below has a more detailed set of documents you can download):
Electronic / Optical
Polymers & Plastics
Note: If you are a materials science educator or instructor, in addition to the Types of Materials curricula, please take a look at the recently updated Materials Science Educational Handbook which can be downloaded chapter by chapter.
In reality, smartphones, computers, solar panels, batteries (colonizing Mars depends on those last two), electric vehicles, earth travel and space travel (sensing an Elon Musk tie here?), nanotechnology, clean energy, and just about everything we touch and experience is linked to materials science.
Overall, MatEdU, as an online resource for materials science and materials education, strives to answer a whole range of questions about various materials. Our goal is to help people learn enough that they can decide if this growing and important STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field is one for them. We hope this post and list of resources can help you on your journey to a career as a materials scientist or just satisfy your curiosity about this important question: What Is Materials Science?
On May 20, the Consortium for Hydrogen And Renewably Generated E-Fuels (CHARGE) is offering its inaugural conference to address critical materials challenges in the energy and transportation sectors. As hydrogen and e-fuels are deployed as alternative fuels, several organizations are joining forces to make Washington State a global hub for commercializing new fuels and technologies.
As part of the new NSF ATE funded MatEdU Online Instructional Resource for Material Science Technology Education project, one of the exciting and key deliverables is the publication of a Materials Science Educational Handbook 2021. We are pleased to announce this new handbook is now live on the site.
Materials Science Educational Handbook Editor, Thomas G. Stoebe, Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle, WA, and Co-Principal Investigator of the former National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) spent months with a team of subject matter experts to develop this new peer reviewed resource. It is packed with materials science educational modules for secondary and post-secondary instructors and students, with lesson plans, course objectives, and hands-on activities and labs in materials science topics, from beginner to advanced levels (full chapter listing and links below).
The handbook contains the various modules and course standards that you will need to develop and teach a wide range of materials science lessons.
In the Handbook, there is an Introduction and How to Use section that lays out exactly what you will find with instructions on navigating each unit of peer-reviewed, hands-on educational activities, called “Modules.” Each chapter is listed separately in the MatEdU Instructional Resources section as a downloadable PDF (see screenshot below). The entire document is internally cross-indexed with hyperlinks to allow quick and easy access to all sections of the handbook.
Properties of Rubber Bands (and Heat)
For example, in Chapter 1 Intro Materials, if you want to know more about “The Odd Behavior of Rubber Bands,” or some understanding of how those properties respond to heat, you can jump directly to that handbook section and peruse a simple lesson plan with student learning objectives as well as equipment and supplies needed for the lesson. There are also extensive instructor notes to help with actual classroom content and discussion points that get quite specific, as in the section on Heating a Rubber Band and what happens when you do so.
From Chapter One: “The Handbook provides proven instructional materials for instructors to utilize in a variety of settings. For K-12 classes, connections to the Next Generation Science Standards are provided along with applicable connections to Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts from A Framework for K12 Science Education.”
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), according to the NGSS website, “are K–12 science content standards. Standards set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do. The NGSS were developed by states to improve science education for all students.” The Materials Science Educational Handbook follows and offers input on using these standards.
Instructors and students can also access each chapter PDF with the following links:
Some of these modules already exist within the MatEdU Module area (dozens of modules/lesson plans are available) and can be searched for if you need only one particular topic area, such as Rubber Bands and Heat, (where you can compare properties and applications of thermoset plastics) but the most updated version is in the Handbook.
There is a shortage of critical materials needed for common consumer needs, such as, a cell phone battery, all the way up the chain to military defense needs. One area of the world has yet to be fully explored, and arguably exploited: Our oceans.
The sea floor is believed to be rich with many of the rare earth elements we need for our increasingly technologically-advanced lives. Late last year, MatEdU News profiled JCDREAM and its efforts to search for sustainable alternatives, “earth-abundant materials,” to supplement the rare earth mineral shortage. We discussed how there are benefits to ocean mining, but also an unknown number of risks to it as well.
In a compelling story, investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, who hosts the weekly TV program, Full Measure, explored “The Battle Below.” In the episode, Attkisson explains how a national emergency has developed “over U.S. access to some rare earth elements, and why it’s become a new cold war with China.”
She interviewed a number of marine experts, among them, oceanographer and biologist Tim Shank. According to the Full Measure episode:
“When he’s on dry ground he works at Woods Hole, the Massachusetts coast town that’s given its name to one the world’s leading marine research organizations: The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. But his research goes deep, to the furthest reaches of the ocean as far as 35-thousand feet beneath the surface.
“Shank: When I started 20 years ago, the conversation of mineral resources and mining and harvesting from the deep sea wasn’t even a topic, and now it’s a topic of almost every conversation. Every deep sea biology meeting we have is discussing deep sea mining at the forefront.”
As the show and our research makes clear, deep-sea mining is possibly worth in the trillions of dollars. Many of the rare earth minerals mentioned in our earlier post about JCDREAM highlight this issue as one we have to solve, but more importantly, get right – meaning we have to do this right because we only get one chance. There are rare elements at the bottom of the ocean that may hold the key to future, life-saving medical advances as well as possible insights into climate change. Woods Hole and others are racing to try and answer important questions about the impact and opportunity the ocean floor offers humanity and the planet.
Here’s the full Deepsea Challenger. Deep ocean research has relied on submersible vehicles such as this one, but increasingly remotely controlled drones and robots are coming online and proving safer and sometimes more capable.
As mentioned in our earlier post, you can learn more about critical materials with these sources:
Around the globe, world leaders are issuing calls to action on the shortage of critical materials, also known as rare earth elements (REE), that impact everything from our cell phones and computer hard drives to military defense capabilities. The United States, the European Union, and Japan have all raised concerns for materials shortages and supply chain risks.
A significant number of university departments and government agencies are approaching this challenge from different perspectives. In Washington State, the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials (JCDREAM), located at Washington State University at Everett, is flipping the equation and asking first how we find and explore existing alternatives and future alternatives with “earth-abundant materials.”
The JCDREAM Symposium organizes and coordinates, via Zoom, discussions on the future of sustainable materials and how to tackle the challenge. Two recent ones are available in their archive, but the December topic (register by clicking the title link): Advancing Critical, Rare and Abundant Materials Education in Washington State includes materials experts Mel Cossette & Ann Avary. If you miss the December 8 event, a recording will be shared on JCDREAM archive page a few days after the presentation.
From the site: “Cossette and Avary have worked to advance materials science education and workforce development in the state of Washington for decades. They are combining their expertise in these areas to widen the focus to critical and earth-abundant materials to ensure that the next generation of engineers and technicians are prepared to address these issues.”
You can also keep tabs on the JCDREAM Symposium 2021 upcoming topics (dates TBD)
Battery Materials and Electrification
Washington State Policy Feature
National Security and Material Supply Chains
If all this discussion about rare earth elements has you wondering about the full list, you need only revisit the periodic table from your high school or university chemistry class. JCDREAM has a terrific Resource page that includes a “Rare Earths 101” factsheet and a long list of blog posts that can help you refamiliarize yourself with materials science and rare earth elements.
To whet your appetite, according to United States Geological Survey (USGS), there are 17 REEs:
Lanthanide elements (15 in total – atomic numbers 57 through 71 on the periodic table)
There are also energy critical elements (ECEs) that are used widely in energy production, transmission, and storage. These include elements you will likely recognize: lithium, cobalt, selenium, and silicon, to name just a few.
In this Additive Manufacturing virtual symposium, on Friday, November 6th, Mahmood Lahroodi and team have set up a morning of packed-sessions on what is happening in the world of advanced 3D printing. Here’s a look at tomorrow’s agenda:
You can join the event by clicking here starting at 9am Central time. Here are some of the advanced sessions you can join tomorrow for free:
Introduction by Mahmood Lahroodi-CVTC
Reviewing NSF-DREAM Website by Hans Mikelson-CVTC
Advancements in Metal 3D Printers by Terry Cambron-Desktop Metal
From Powder to Performance by Dr. Pradeep Bhattad-Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Entrepreneurial Mindset in AM by Rick and Sarah Heuer – Heuer Studios
Metal 3D Printer by Ryan Prigge-Productivity
Reverse Engineering using Additive Manufacturing by Joe Vydrzal
Prepare technicians for manufacturing and engineering through applied education of additive manufacturing processes and concepts.
Increase the capacity of rural secondary teachers to provide instruction in additive manufacturing.
MatEdU News also will share some other project information on its sister site, AM News, under the TEAMM project. We have an upcoming post that goes deeper on the technician education aspects, including details on the five additive manufacturing modules that support the Manufacturing Engineering Technologist and Mechanical Design associate degree programs at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).
The modules cross over our work here in Materials Science and Education as well as more advanced topics in training technicians, such as, metal additive manufacturing, design principles, and quality assurance for digital manufacturing. The CVTC facility is also home to a new Fab Lab with a range of 3D printers (including thermoplastic, stereolithography, composite material, and metal 3D printers) and a 3D laser scanner.
You also can view their first symposium (August 2020) on Additive Manufacturing on YouTube.
The session that dives deeper into materials science is from Dr. Pradeep Bhattad, business development manager of ZEISS Additive Manufacturing Process and Control at ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions. He also is collaborating with Oak Ridge National Lab’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility and will be sharing about the quality aspect of 3D printed parts (hint: That means materials). A recent article, Producing Additively Manufactured Parts, in Quality Magazine gives a glimpse into his talk on powder-based 3D printing.