Materials Technology Education: Just Getting Started

Message from the MatEdU National Advisory Board

Materials technology is the basis for the development of new and advanced systems in areas from aerospace and automotive to household appliances, all of which are made of materials whose properties are enhanced by their structure, properties and processing techniques.  Use of micro- and nano-scale materials in combination with enhanced processing processes can yield new and specific enhancements properties, including mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic behavior.  New processing techniques utilizing natural material can enhance the environment and create a greener future. Combined with scientific and engineering advances in materials, new horizons are becoming achievable today.

Update: If you want a PDF version of this statement that you can share with your institution or colleagues, you can download it here: Materials Technology Education: Just Getting Started. This link will automatically start a PDF download process, so please look in your normal downloads folder to find a copy.

The NSF-funded Advanced Technological Education program called MatEdU (DUE #2000347) has provided the basis for advances in materials education for technologists in several very important areas.  While this specific National Science Foundation ATE project is closing, its impact on the world of Materials is just getting started.  Overall, the project has moved materials education from the fringes of importance (where it was at the MatEdU’s initiation in 2005) to leading the mainstream of technology today.  How many new and better understood materials and processes have been developed in that time frame?  Too many to count!

Impactful areas developed by MatEdU include:

  • Technology Education Workshops for Instructors, focused on instructors teaching instructors has had a great impact on hands-on materials education, starting with the enormously impactful “National Educators Workshops” merging into the Materials in STEM (M-STEM) program.
  • Technician Education in Additive Manufacturing & Materials, enhancing the need for technical knowledge of the materials used in AM and how potential materials interactions can affect the properties and lifetime of the resultant 3D printed product.
  • Technology Curriculum Development, resulting in a portfolio of over 150 peer-reviewed educational modules in all aspects of materials technology as well as in the Materials Science Educational Handbook allowing instructors to develop their own materials-related curriculum using the lessons noted here.
  • Enhancing Undergraduate Research in Community Colleges, demonstrating the worth of short projects in the educational experience at this level, as has been demonstrated at the 4-year college level.
  • Providing a blueprint for community colleges and others for the development of a materials technology program.

The MatEdU website,, along with specific programming ideas is being transferred to the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (MNT-EC) where the website will continue to be accessible. The programs of MatEdU will continue to be developed by MNT-EC and other ATE programs. A full article on this topic will appear in Journal of Advanced Technological Education (J ATE) in the near future.

You can also read a bit more detail about the Merger between MNT-EC and MatEdU here: MatEdU Merges with the National Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC).

MatEdU Merges with the National Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC)

Editor’s Note: Our domain remains the same: Materials Education (MatEdU) 

See Update note at end of post for Official Statement from MatEdU Team.

Materials Education site domain will stay same

The Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education (MatEdU), a pioneering NSF Advanced Technological Education funded project has greatly impacted the landscape of materials science education, is poised to embark on an exhilarating new journey. MatEdU is excited to announce its merger with the esteemed National Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC), marking a significant milestone in its mission to advance materials technology education at a national scale.

Housed at Edmonds College, MatEdU has been a nucleus of industry, education, and community collaboration, continuously addressing materials technology workforce needs. Our strategic transition to the National Micro Nanotechnology Education Center will not only broaden our platform but also enhance our ability to continue to serve as a resource on a national level.

MatEdU’s record of robust collaborations and its potent blend of curriculum resources have served to augment materials technology programs at technical colleges nationwide. We have succeeded in creating an expansive national network of industry and educational professionals and in pioneering various projects that have promoted materials science on a national scale.

Our dedicated team, led by Principal Investigator Mel Cossette, Co-PIs Tom Stoebe and Cynthia Howell, and Senior Secretary Eliana Pesola, will continue to champion our mission at the National Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC). This move signifies a new horizon in our journey, promising to elevate our capacity to impart materials technology education.

As we transition into this new chapter, we reiterate our commitment to our mission and vision. Our aspiration to advance materials technology education nationally now stands poised to impact an even larger audience. Our aim to serve as a hub for collaboration across industry, education, and community will resonate within the NSF-Funded,  National Micro Nanotechnology Education Center (MNT-EC), facilitating a wider conversation on addressing materials technology workforce needs.

To our partners, collaborators, and supporters, we extend our heartfelt appreciation for your role in our journey thus far. This merger represents not an end, but the dawn of a new era, brimming with potential and promise. As we forge ahead, we invite you to join us in this exciting evolution as we continue to advance the frontiers of materials technology education.

For updates on this exciting transition and other initiatives, please know that the MatEdU website will change a little, but the core resources will remain and new ones will be added.

Let’s embrace the future together.

NOTE: As we migrate our site and content to MNT-EC, you will continue to find the  Materials Education and Science Resources at its usual domain: Materials Education (MatEdU) >> If and when that changes, we will keep our readers informed or redirect the site properly. Thank you for all your support and encouragement over the years.

Update 13AUG2023: We published an official statement from the MatEdU Team, Partners, and National Advisory Board. If you want a PDF version of this statement that you can share with your institution or colleagues, you can download it here: Materials Technology Education: Just Getting Started. This link will automatically start a PDF download process, so please look in your normal downloads folder to find a copy. It is also available as a news post here.

Most Popular Materials Science Downloads for Educators

MatEdU Module page

MatEdU Module page

Educators, instructors, and lifelong learners, have you ever wished for a single, comprehensive resource that would take the complexity out of teaching and learning materials science? Enter the MatEdU Modules – a carefully curated and searchable collection of over 150 educational modules, designed to simplify your journey through the world of materials science, engineering, and technology.

Developed over the past 15 years, these modules offer a wide range of educational lessons, each contributed by various authors, subject matter experts, and instructors at all levels. Each lesson has undergone rigorous peer review and vetting processes, ensuring the highest quality and reliability of information.

Whether you’re introducing your students to the basics of materials science or guiding them through more complex topics, there’s a module designed just for you. The collection is organized based on subject, level, and author, making it easy to find exactly what you need. Subjects range from Additive Manufacturing and Biomaterials to Semiconductors and Materials Sustainability, catering to every niche in materials science.

Some of these modules have even found their way into the prestigious MatEdU Materials Science Educational Handbook, a testament to their value and quality. This also is proven by the high number of chapters on the Most Popular List below. But what makes this resource truly standout is its adaptability. These modules aren’t just ready-made lessons—they’re starting points that can be tailored to fit the specific needs of your class and teaching style.

With just a few clicks, you can sort and search through the 152 modules available by subject, level, or author. Whether you’re an educator planning your next semester’s curriculum or a student seeking to deepen your understanding, this is a collection you can’t afford to miss.

For your convenience, we’ve also highlighted a few of our most popular modules below. From Introduction to Materials to a guide on So You Want to be in Materials Science, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge waiting to be explored.

Harness the power of the MatEdU Modules today and revolutionize the way you approach materials science education. The simplified list of the most popular downloads is below number one through eight.

Important note: Most of these links will automatically start the download process of either a PDF or PPT file. If you want to peruse more of the modules or handbook chapters/appendices, you can visit the top-level Resources page or the Searchable Modules page.

  1. Introduction to Materials (Link): A comprehensive entry point into the world of materials science, ideal for both beginners and those needing a refresher on foundational concepts.
  2. Materials Science Frameworks (Link): This module outlines a detailed framework for understanding and teaching materials science at K-12 levels, providing a clear path for curriculum development.
  3. Engineering Materials and Design (Link): A deep dive into the intersection of materials science and engineering, exploring the principles behind material selection and design in engineering applications.
  4. Materials Science Educational Handbook Introduction (Link): An overview of the MatEdU Materials Science Educational Handbook, a key resource for anyone looking to teach or learn materials science in a comprehensive, accessible manner.
  5. Metals and Alloys (Link): An enlightening module that delves into the properties, uses, and importance of metals and alloys in materials science.
  6. So You Want to be in Materials Science (Link): A resourceful guide for aspiring materials scientists, offering insights into career paths, educational requirements, and opportunities in the field.
  7. Composite Materials (Link): This module explores composite materials, their properties, and applications, giving learners a nuanced understanding of these key materials.
  8. Appendix A of the Educational Handbook (Link): An important supplement to the MatEdU Materials Science Educational Handbook, providing additional resources and information to enhance learning.

Let us know what resources you find most valuable and helpful as you continue your journey into materials science.

Smart Materials

What is a “smart” material? Can a seemingly inanimate object demonstrate “intelligence?”

“Smart materials” are a class of materials that possess unique and adaptive properties, allowing them to change their characteristics in response to external stimuli such as temperature, light, pressure, electrical fields, or magnetic fields. These materials are designed to be highly sensitive and responsive, and they can alter their physical properties without the need for external intervention.

Some of the most common types of smart materials include:

  1. Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs): These materials can “remember” their original shape and return to it when subjected to heat or other stimuli. Nitinol (a combination of nickel and titanium) is a well-known shape memory alloy used in various applications, such as medical stents and actuators. This category of alloys is what most people think of when “smart materials” is mentioned.
  2. Piezoelectric Materials: These materials generate an electric charge when mechanically stressed or deformed. Conversely, applying an electric field to them can cause a change in shape. They find applications in sensors, actuators, energy harvesting devices, and even in piezoelectric inkjet printers.
  3. Electrochromic Materials: These materials change their color or opacity in response to an electric current. They are used in smart windows and eyewear, allowing them to adjust their transparency based on environmental conditions.
  4. Thermochromic Materials: These materials change color with variations in temperature. Applications include mood rings and temperature-sensitive labels.
  5. Photochromic Materials: Photochromic materials change their color when exposed to light, reverting to their original state when the light source is removed. They are used in sunglasses, lenses, and eyeglasses that darken in bright light.
  6. Magnetostrictive Materials: These materials change their shape in response to a magnetic field and find applications in sensors and actuators. As mentioned on last month’s post that included Ames Lab Success Stories, Terfenol-D is a material licensed by TdVib and produces sonic actuators with this special material.
  7. Electroactive Polymers (EAPs): EAPs are a type of smart material that changes shape in response to an electric field. They have applications in artificial muscles, haptic feedback devices, and soft robotics.
  8. Self-healing Materials: These materials can repair damage and recover their original properties without external intervention. They have potential uses in coatings, composites, and structural materials to enhance durability and longevity.

The U.S. along with many of our allies, are funding government agencies, universities, and non-governmental think tanks and labs, to find options and ideas that can help make our future safe, healthy, and sustainable.

Government Labs and Research Institutions: 

  • NASA: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is probably the first agency that comes to mind when we think of innovation in so many areas of science and technology. They have been actively researching smart materials for aerospace applications, such as shape memory alloys for aircraft components.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): NIST is involved in research related to advanced materials, including smart materials for various applications.
  • Department of Energy, Ames Lab: We mentioned Ames Lab in our post on Sustainable Materials in March, but here is a specific Ames Lab post that highlights their research to develop a metallurgical production process for smart material Terfenol-D; an alloy of terbium, iron and dysprosium that exhibits giant magnetostriction – it changes shape when subjected to a magnetic field (concept was conceived by the Naval Ordnance Laboratory in the 1970s).
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA): DARPA, a U.S. government agency, has invested in research on smart materials for defense applications, including adaptive camouflage and responsive structures.

As you might also guess, many of the world’s top players in smart materials, are also the large companies and well known brands we use every day:

Corporate Players:

  • 3M has been involved in various smart material technologies, including optical films, adhesives, and conductive materials.
  • BASF is a global chemical company that has been actively engaged in smart materials research, particularly in the development of shape memory polymers and other functional materials.
  • Corning is known for its expertise in glass and ceramics and has been involved in the development of smart glass technologies for various applications.
  • Saint-Gobain is known for its advanced materials and has worked on smart materials such as electrochromic glass.
  • General Electric (GE) has been involved in research and development related to smart materials, particularly in aerospace and energy sectors.
  • We would also add that many up and coming startups are working on smart materials and readers may want to check out Greentown Labs mentioned in our Sustainable Materials post last month.

Products in development or potential types of products to spur your imagination (some of these are based on brainstorming from what we’ve seen or read about on the web, or from the companies and research agencies above, but are limited to those):

  • Shape Memory Alloys (SMAs): A self-folding origami toy that changes its shape upon heating.
  • Piezoelectric Materials: A wearable fitness tracker that generates power from the user’s movements.
  • Electrochromic Materials: Smart sunglasses that adjust tint based on the intensity of sunlight.
  • Thermochromic Materials: Temperature-sensitive baby bath toys that change color with water temperature.
  • Photochromic Materials: Sunglasses that automatically darken when exposed to sunlight.
  • Magnetostrictive Materials: A miniature robotic arm controlled by a magnetic field. Electroactive
  • Polymers (EAPs): Soft robotic grippers that respond to electric signals for precise manipulation.
  • Self-healing Materials: A scratch-resistant smartphone cover that repairs minor damages over time.

Smart materials are an exciting area of science that demonstrates and shows promise for real-world applications, as we’ve seen in the above examples. As we look ahead, novel materials will continue to change our lives, spark creativity for more new inventions, and provide opportunities for students interested to explore these different fields of study.

Sustainable Energy and Materials Science

Sustainable materials is not simply a buzzword. Our world is increasingly concerned about and researching how to protect our planet. Here at MatEdU, we have spent many years looking at how materials science is changing the world. Over the next two posts, we plan to look at how sustainable materials, then smart materials, are massively influencing and impacting that change.

Founded on the solid belief of transforming the future of materials technology, MatEdU has come a long way since its inception. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the national center and project envisioned a world where education, industry, and community come together to meet the evolving needs of the materials technology workforce. Headquartered at Edmonds College, MatEdU stands as a testament to the promising potential of sustainable clean energy and materials science, as well as many other related scientific and industry areas.

Sustainable clean energy, as we understand it, encapsulates an ecosystem that is committed to energy efficiency and environmental preservation. Materials science plays a pivotal role in realizing this vision by developing groundbreaking materials that can drive the clean energy revolution. Here are some ways in which materials science is shaping the sustainable energy landscape:

  • Solar Power: Materials scientists are innovating photovoltaic materials for solar panels that can enhance the conversion of sunlight into electricity, making solar energy a more feasible alternative to fossil fuels.
  • Wind Energy: Research is underway to create lightweight yet robust composites for wind turbines, leading to improved performance and reliability.
  • Fuel Cells: Scientists are discovering catalysts and electrocatalysts to be used in fuel cells, making them a more practical and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.
  • Energy Storage: High-capacity batteries and other storage systems are being developed to optimize the storage and release of energy. Battery innovation alone is practically an industry unto itself.
  • Thermal Management and Energy Harvesting Systems: Advanced materials are aiding in the efficient temperature control and conversion of mechanical energy into electrical energy.

When it comes to sustainability, we are fans and supporters of a variety of high-impact organizations.

Let’s start with one in our backyard: Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials (JCDREAM). Their mission is to accelerate the development of next-generation clean energy and transportation technologies in Washington state, but their research and reporting is useful in many ways across the USA.

We have written about them several times, but here are two:

JCDREAM recently completed two reports (produced by FP Analytics, with support from JCDREAM). Both of the reports mentioned here are incredibly detailed and, well, dense. We scratch the surface and encourage you to head to these two report links.

The first report, Securing Critical Minerals for Washington State, highlights the crucial role of certain minerals in key industries. These include:

  • Transportation
  • Renewable energy
  • Aerospace and defense
  • Battery manufacturing (in a section on Lithium-Ion Batteries)

These sectors rely on minerals such as cobalt, graphite, lithium, nickel, platinum, iridium, and rare earth elements. The report emphasizes the importance of risk awareness and supply chain diversification in these industries. It also highlights the importance of securing our supply chain with reshoring domestic production or by “friendshoring” supplies from allied countries.

The second report, Critical Minerals Considerations For a Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub, shows how Hydrogen is set for a growth spurt, driven by:

  • Supportive policies: U.S. Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act
  • Rising energy security concerns
  • The urgency to reduce emissions from hard-to-abate sectors

Despite low electricity rates, hydrogen production in Washington State isn’t yet cost-competitive. However, with additional support:

  • Green hydrogen production could accelerate
  • The Pacific Northwest could become a hub of energy innovation
  • Zero-carbon fuels could be provided for sectors like aviation, trucking, and maritime transport

MatEdU has also been partnered with the Colorado School of Mines (a public research university in Golden, CO) and Dr. Cynthia Howell for many years (click on the “Spotlight” link to learn more about her work). She and Mines lead in driving the future of sustainable materials and clean energy at the university and also at the Critical Materials Institute through the Ames National Laboratory. Read some of their recent news on Green Hydrogen research.

Among other resources, we provide easily accessible PDF modules that encapsulate the essence of these topics, giving you what you need as a teacher: the requisite knowledge to teach others about sustainable energy. Visit the searchable Materials Education Modules page.

As mentioned, the Colorado School of Mines is a MatEdU partner and two of their recent modules fit right into this sustainable materials post:

Making Sense of Critical Materials: An Introductory Lesson on the Supply and Demand of Critical Materials: (This link will take you directly to the module page, where you can type in Critical Materials). This PDF is the first one you will see and it will allow you to download an Intro, a Teacher version, and a Student version.

Making sense of critical materials PDF

The Circular Economy of Lithium-Ion Batteries follows the same instructions and you will find documents you can download.

Circular Economy and Lithium-Ion Batteries

One final resource and a new ally we want to share with our readers:

Greentown Labs is an incubator and community committed to addressing the climate crisis through entrepreneurship and collaboration. They started and are based in Boston, but recently opened a Houston location. Both locations welcome startup founders, policymakers, investors, and corporate executives who want to take climate action and transform energy use, building construction, transportation, food production, and water management. They believe in the power of climate tech startups, which, of course, involve a lot of work in materials science. Greentown Labs operates as a supportive and non-equity incubator for early-stage entrepreneurs, providing access to resources, equipment, programming, and staff support.

Each of these organizations is working hard to ensure that we have clean energy solutions that are sustainable and smart. Please connect us with others that are doing similar work.

Boost to Future Jobs in Materials and Manufacturing

In his first State of the Union address, President Joe Biden made a bold claim about the future of manufacturing in the United States. He spoke about 800,000 new jobs in manufacturing on the horizon, with many of them involving advanced manufacturing positions rooted in materials science. The President’s remarks underscored the crucial role of materials science in modern manufacturing and highlighted the potential for growth in this vital sector. (See Fact Sheet linked at end of post.)

Materials science studies the properties, processing, and performance of materials. It encompasses a wide range of materials, from metals and ceramics to polymers and composites, and it plays a critical role in many industries, including aerospace, automotive, energy, and healthcare. Advanced manufacturing uses cutting-edge technologies, such as automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence, to improve efficiency and productivity in manufacturing processes. By leveraging the latest materials science research, advanced manufacturing can create innovative products that are stronger, lighter, and more durable than ever before.

The President’s focus on advanced manufacturing and materials science reflects a growing recognition of their importance to the American economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, materials science, and engineering is one of the fastest-growing fields in the United States, with a projected growth rate of 6% per year (source linked below).

This growth is driven by demand from the aerospace, defense, electronics, and healthcare industries, which require new materials with specific properties to meet their needs.

In addition to creating new jobs, advanced manufacturing and materials science can positively impact the environment. By developing materials that are more sustainable and energy-efficient, manufacturers can reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future.

For example, lightweight materials, such as carbon fiber composites, can improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles and reduce their emissions. Similarly, advanced materials for renewable energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines, can help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

President Biden’s remarks about the future of manufacturing in the United States underscore the critical role of materials science in driving innovation and growth in the advanced manufacturing sector. With its potential to create new jobs, improve efficiency, and contribute to a more sustainable future, materials science, and advanced manufacturing are poised to play a leading role in shaping the American economy for years to come.

In two years, the President has overseen a historic economic recovery and laid the foundation for steady and stable growth in the years to come—a landmark, equitable economic recovery. President Biden’s financial strategy led to a historic recovery with tangible benefits for workers and families.

The economy has created more than 12 million jobs—including more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs—and the unemployment rate is at a 54-year low, including near-record lows for Black workers. The unemployment rate for Hispanic workers hit a record low last year. The past two years were also the best for new small business applications on record. None of this progress was pre-ordained.

Before President Biden signed his Rescue Plan into law, experts predicted creating this many jobs would take far longer. And few—if any—experts predicted it would be possible to get the unemployment rate down to a level last seen in 1969. Before the Rescue Plan passed, the Congressional Budget Office projected the unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2023 would be 4.8%, rather than its current level of 3.4%.

Additional Reading:

  1. Materials Engineers : Occupational Outlook Handbook
  2. FACT SHEET: The Biden Economic Plan Is Working | The White House
  3. Joe Biden’s manufacturing push has netted $200 billion in committed building | Fortune
  4. President Biden’s Push to Make Things In America Again : The NPR Politics Podcast 

With our White House mentions in this post, we also have to point you to our post last year when Professor Jean Frank was invited to the White House where she discussed:

  • Diversifying the space workforce, focusing on inspiring students and reducing barriers.
  • The workshop involved discussions on in-demand skills, evidence-based practices, and strategies to foster growth and diversity in the space industry.


Materials Science as a Career Pathway

Editor’s Note

Materials Science Career Pathways Map

Within education circles, we often talk about Career Pathways. This month I was on the Edmonds College Materials Science degree page and wondered what students think when they hear that career pathways phrase? It seems obvious to me, and to you, perhaps to all of us in or near education.

But, what do the students think?

Do they draw a blank? Have they stopped to think about “Career Pathways” and what it means?

When a school talks about a “Career Pathway,” they’re talking about a set of courses, programs, and experiences that are specifically designed to get a student ready for a certain career field or industry.

It also started me wondering if there are standards or requirements for “career pathways” when descriptions are created? Do colleges adhere to these? I found out that colleges and universities are generally not required to adhere to specific standards or requirements when creating “career pathways” programs, as they are not regulated by any particular government agency or accrediting body. However, some organizations and accrediting bodies do provide guidelines and best practices for institutions to follow when creating career pathway programs.

However, there are organizations that strive to provide pathways that make sense. For example, the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) is a national organization that provides resources and support for creating and improving career pathways programs, which is based on the Career Pathways Framework that includes four key elements: academic and technical skills, employability skills, leadership and workplace skills, and support services.

Additionally, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has developed the Guided Pathways framework which is a comprehensive approach to student success and improved completion. This framework includes the following key elements: clear pathways, structured scheduling, integrated support services, and use of technology.

While these guidelines and best practices are not binding, many colleges and universities do choose to adopt them in order to ensure that their career pathway programs are effective and well-designed. Some states also have their own policies and guidelines for creating career pathway programs. It is also worth noting that these frameworks and guidelines are not mandatory but they can be used as a helpful tool for colleges and universities to improve their career pathway programs.

So, briefly, since this page Career Path in Materials Science at Edmonds College on MatEdU inspired this post, I thought you might find their approach helpful, too.

Also, here is another resource from the well-known Getting Smart team: New Pathways.

What are you doing to develop and create Career Pathways that make sense for your students? Let me know – I’d love to hear about it.

Looking Ahead at Materials Science in 2023

End of year is almost always a time to reflect and look ahead. Let’s do that.  

In early April 2022, MatEdU News highlighted three big materials science trends to watch and provided a variety of resources for readers (link below). We decided that another review would be helpful as we head into 2023 amidst quite disruptive trends hitting the mainstream news environment.

  1. Using artificial intelligence (AI) to create new materials
  2. Materials advances in biological areas (3D printing personalized medicines). 
  3. Sustainability in Materials Science combining Industry 4.0 concepts with the Circular Economy (aka sustainability) is crucial to smart science.

These three trends all appear to be true for 2023, especially the artificial intelligence (AI) one. Many readers have likely seen the news related to ChatGPT for generating written content as well as DALL-E for image creation. Both of these tools are amazing, fast, and changing everything they touch.

Although neither of these two are directly impacting AI for materials science, the new attention on what AI can do at this level is certainly bringing awareness of what’s possible. There is no shortage of work being done in almost every niche, with research projects and commercial science efforts combining the power of AI within them. 

In addition to the three above, here are a two areas worth exploring.

Trend 1: Artificial intelligence (AI) doesn’t replace people. Perhaps we should call that a myth. I don’t say this for any fear factor, but technology always disrupts and often replaces people, but opens doors for new possibilities. 

Almost certainly, AI is going to cause disruption in every industry it touches. But, there will be opportunities as well, for leveraging it in smart ways that only humans can do, for now. The current discussion in manufacturing is that it will allow robots and people to collaborate to accomplish tasks, often called Cobots or Co-Bots. 

The logic is that as AI and the connected machines become smarter, they will perform repetitive tasks so that humans will be able to solve higher-level thinking and tasks. Stay aware of how the tech is being used in your field and be smarter than it, in whatever way you can. 

Trend 2: As the above gains traction, there are going to be opportunities for technicians.

Materials science touches nearly every industry. If you need more info, the Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education (MatEdU) is an NSF funded project housed at Edmonds College. There are short-term certificates and training programs here and all around the USA.

Check out these industry reports and resources for ideas around how materials science is involved in the future of energy (think solar, wind, batteries, and more). Chemistry and advanced materials labs are going to need people who can think and run machines, code, and repair equipment, too.

According to StartUs Insights with their Top 10 Materials Industry Trends & Innovations in 2022 report (we hadn’t discovered this post/report summary when we wrote our first post, but this is an excellent and well-linked post, including companies working in each space). 

  •      Sustainable Materials
  •      Smart & Responsive Materials
  •      Nanotechnology
  •      Additive Manufacturing
  •      Lightweighting
  •      Material Informatics
  •      Advanced Composites
  •      Graphene & 2D Materials
  •      Surface Engineering
  •      Materials Management 4.0

The U.S. Department of Energy has a page dedicated to Next-generation materials, which highlights their research and development portfolio. When you scroll down on that page, take note that there are +Plus signs that you can click to expand for more information. They are easy to miss. That’s where all the next gen goodies are listed. You will find a variety of “novel materials with improved properties, such as materials for harsh environments, and advanced composite and lightweight materials.”

Thanks to the folks at Mewburn Ellis, a patent, trademark, and intellectual property firm based in London, they have an excellent materials informatics blog post that explains how materials science needs an information or data-based approach to development:

Mewburn also deserves a shoutout for the link to this TEDx talk from Dr. Taylor Sparks, a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Utah:

Discover the materials of the future…in 30 seconds or less | Dr. Taylor Sparks | TEDxSaltLakeCity (Here is the direct link in case the embedded video does not show in your browser).

As MatEdU News has done in the past, we have pulled in resources from the World Economic  Forum (WEF). These are some of their 2022 posts, filtered by Advanced Materials. At the end of this list, which should give you areas to explore related to materials and the need for technicians, engineers, and other specialists, is a list of categories you can use to dig in even deeper. 

WEF Agenda article categories

As the need for more efficient, lightweight, and sustainable materials grows (just to name a few), we are watching in real-time the massive technology advances that open up new materials and methods. Naturally, that will lead to a growing demand for materials scientists and technicians. Please let us know if and how you use these resources to explore career and internship opportunities in the field of materials science in 2023 and beyond.


April 7 2022 MatEdU News post: Keeping Up with Materials Science Research and Trends Impacting Education and the Workforce.

For those interested in Nanotechnology, I will be including a number of trends from StartUs Insights and their Nano trends report for 2023, for our sister organization — the Micro Nano Technology Education Center (a national center for Micro Nano) and its Think Small news section. Stay tuned in early January. 

For a deep dive on AI within manufacturing and materials, this World Economic Forum report can be downloaded here: Unlocking Value from Artificial Intelligence in Manufacturing

Note, this file will automatically start downloading into your download folder, on most browsers, so if it opens a blank tab or screen, look for where your system places PDF and document downloads.

Materials Washington (MatWA) Adds New Modules for Materials Education

Signed into law by President Joe Biden on August 9, 2022, the CHIPS and Science Act provides funding of $280 billion to help the semiconductor industry and the research that supports it. 

The funds will usher in the new National Science Foundation Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (Meet TIP) with a mission to develop technologies, such as, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, advanced manufacturing, 6G communications, energy, and materials science. 

After all, new semiconductor chips need lots of research and development work, particularly in an area that people might forget — materials science. 

In a small, but important way, MatEdU (The Online Instructional Resources for Material Science Technology Education), continues to work and serve to share its mission: to advance materials technology education nationally. Without it, we won’t have the technicians and researchers needed to help bring our nation’s chip manufacturing to the next level.

MatEdU will continue to provide educators with ready-to-use educational materials, in the form of modules, that can be downloaded as PDFs or PowerPoint slides. Four new modules were recently added and they focus on topics that are in high demand.

  1. Material Integrity Plan Supporting Aviation/Land/Marine Industry Transportation
  2. Rare Earth Elements – An Introduction
  3. Sustainable Composite Materials from Renewable Resources
  4. The Circular Economy of Lithium-Ion Batteries

Thanks to MatWA for all of its support in driving important education and outreach in the area of sustainable materials for our nation’s manufacturers. 

Visit the MatWA – Materials Education (MatEdU) page where you will see the “JCDREAM Modules button” as shown in the image below. Click that button and a list of modules will pop up listing each module and the PDF or PPT files ready for download. The four new modules mentioned above are also on that list. 

Screenshot of the Materials Washington page that shows the JCDREAM Modules button that leads you to the current list of educational modules.

These nine modules were published in March 2022. They are available on the page above.

  1. Introduction to Magnetic Composites
  2. Additive Manufacturing of Magnetic Materials
  3. Fused Filament Manufacturing of Magnetic Composites
  4. Lithium, The 3rd Element
  5. 3D Printing Filament Recycling and Reuse
  6. Very Berry Solar Cells
  7. The Global Impact of Design and Innovation
  8. Videoing Individual Relationships with Earth’s Elements and Materials
  9. Evaluating the Next Generation of Solar Cells

With billions of dollars about to supercharge materials science research and other critically needed areas, MatEdU plans to keep the educational resources available for up and coming technician programs at U.S. community and technical colleges, as well as 4-year institutions.

Additional resource for those wanting to know more about the CHIPS Act activity. The Commerce Department has launched a website,, that will serve as the central hub for implementation resources, including funding opportunities and timelines.

Virginia Professor Jean Frank Invited To White House

Professor Jean Frank from Virginia Peninsula Community College

It isn’t everyday that one gets an invite from the White House and Professor Jean Frank, Interim Associate Dean STEM at Virginia Peninsula Community College, briefly thought it might be a hoax. As she read further, she knew that it was a genuine invitation via email to be part of a workshop focused on growing and diversifying the space workforce.

According to Professor Frank, the email explained that during a December 2021 National Space Council meeting, Vice President Harris tasked the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) with leading an effort to use space to inspire more students to explore STEM fields and identify and reduce barriers to entering and staying in the space workforce.

The OSTP along with the National Space Council, and its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Task Force, created a partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) wanted experts like Jean Frank to participate in a roundtable and workshop to foster a robust conversation among space workforce stakeholders on sector-specific needs to inform workforce strategy for the space industry.

The morning focused on identifying in-demand occupations, skills, and competencies in the space workforce, hosted by senior leaders from the Department of Labor including Chief Innovation Officer Chike Aguh and Senior Policy Advisor Manny Lamare. The afternoon included a roundtable hosted by leaders from the Space Council and OSTP including Director of Space STEM Policy Elaine Ho and Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Quincy Brown highlighting evidence-based practices to grow and diversify the space workforce.

Professor Frank added there were representatives from about 90 companies and educational institutions in attendance. Industry teams included CEOs, hiring managers, technicians, and engineers. Educational Institutions sent professors, staff and others with STEM degrees in engineering, and engineering technology. 

In addition to her many years of technician-level work and many technical certifications and degrees, Professor Frank stated in a MatEdU interview and profile that “materials matter more than ever. Materials are being manipulated for environmental concerns, ex: coatings to create corrosion free metals, glass that automatically darkens, flexible solar cells, fuel cell membranes, etc. 3D printing has opened a whole new manufacturing environment, parts that can be dreamed up and created almost overnight. Materials are expanding to include 3D electric ink – conductive ink, for the 3D printers. Allowing for the integration of electric circuits within the 3D printed objects. Nano technology has also opened new worlds of manufacturing for composites, semiconductors, metallic and glass films, etc.” You can read her full bio here on the 

MatEdU Partner Page. Click the “View Spotlight” link on the right side to open the pop-up window.        

When you read any part of Jean Frank’s resume, you will know that the White House would want her at any meeting like the one she recently attended. She has the deep and valuable bank of knowledge and hands-on, boots-on-the-ground list of experiences that the government would want to tap into. No hoax there.