Bringing Smart Materials Applications into a Project-Based First-Year Engineering Course
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Recently, aerospace engineering faculty members and graduate students at Texas A & M University (TAMU) developed a project involving smart materials and implemented it in a freshman-level engineering class to excite first-year students about material science applications. This smart materials project addresses curriculum challenges that hinder students' ability to relate mathematics and science concepts to the engineering design process. Shape memory alloys (SMAs), the specific type of smart material used in this project, provide the opportunity for explaining important engineering principles, such as energy conversion and mechanism actuation, framed within the subject of mechanics of materials. By introducing projects using SMAs, students learn about their applications and relevance in engineering designs, and the potential for material science as a future research goal. This paper will present specifications for the project developed involving SMAs, provide details on the implementation, and summarize its results. 2011 American Society for Engineering Education.