Teaching Approaches

CES EduPack is used in many different circumstances; sometimes in well-resourced computer labs, sometimes in self-directed studies using a student's own laptop. It may be fundamentally integrated in the curricula and an essential tool for students in each year; or it can simply be used as a data resource and way of creating great lectures with clear and engaging charts to illustrate concepts.

On this page, we explore some of the approaches that CES EduPack can help.

These include:

CES EduPack and a science-led approach

CES EduPack is designed to complement and support teaching whatever your approach, and whether or not you use a textbook. In our Information Pack, you'll find a paper describing the use of CES EduPack with the Callister textbook. Here you can see ideas about how you can use the elements database to illustrate trends and relationships between the properties of the periodic table; how simple bubble charts of Young's Modulus v Density can be used to help students understand the different families of materials and what, (e.g., bonding and crystal structure) affects their properties. Students can click through to Science Notes that reinforce the theory and include references to standard texts (not just Callister, but also thebooks by: Askeland, Budinski, and Shackelford). Topics such as Phase Diagrams and Crystallography can be covered using 'Teach yourself' booklets. Heat treatment and other ways to manipulate the properties of materials are also easily illustrated. The student could then go on to use CES EduPack software to select materials for a design based on these properties—developing a perspective on how the fundamental science translates to real engineering applications.

The design-led and science-led approaches to materials education

CES EduPack and a design-led approach

In this approach, the student begins with a design challenge. The CES EduPack software allows them to identify the materials families that best meet its requirements. They can then explore why different materials perform differently, 'drilling down' into the EduPack information resources to find out more on the underlying science. EduPack is particularly well-integrated with Professor Ashby's textbooks, which adopt the design-led approach. Many engineering departments use this approach in order to motivate students to learn about materials. You can read in more detail about the design-led teaching approach in our Information Pack, which contains a white paper giving examples of this approach: Teaching Engineering Materials by Mike Ashby and Dave Cebon.

Classroom teaching

Ready-made PowerPoint lecture units and associated exercise booklets are provided with CES EduPack. They can be used, in whole or in part, or simply as inspiration. Customized materials property charts can be created to illustrate the particular point that you are teaching that day, and copied into PowerPoint, or saved as a project file and opened within the software so that you can annotate the chart in real time during your lecture. The CES EduPack software is also used as the basis for short, hands-on student exercises during classroom sessions, or as 'homework'. The EduPack teaching resources provide such exercises. Students can investigate materials and create reports or posters to prove their learning.

Project-based learning

CES EduPack is ideal as a support for student projects, both as a comprehensive information resource and through the use of its materials selection, Eco Audit, and other modeling tools to solve materials-related problems. These projects could be anything from short exercises within an introductory course (examples are provided in the CES EduPack teaching resources) to extensive final-year design projects or even masters-level research projects (using the in-depth data in the EduPack Level 3 database).

Read more on using CES EduPack in design projects 

Problem-based learning

As students use CES EduPack to solve design- or materials-related problems, they can easily 'drill down' into information that explains the engineering and scientific principles behind the properties and materials that they are investigating. This capability is well-suited to problem-based approaches where students are encouraged to broaden their subject knowledge by exploring issues and concepts that arise as they tackle a specific problem.


Enrollment and campus-wide licences of CES EduPack allow every student on the participating course to install CES EduPack on their own laptop or PC. This means that CES EduPack can be a powerful aid to distance-learning and other courses that require students to do a substantial portion of their learning remotely or in their own time. Extensive student resources are provided, including 'Teach Yourself' booklets, glossaries, and case studies.

Links across the curriculum

Many universities and colleges are seeking to improve the integration of the courses that they offer—allowing students flexibility and choice in the precise course modules that they select, while maintaining a consistent approach and reinforcing key learning points across the curriculum. CES EduPack can be a valuable tool in this process. Since it is used to support teaching in areas including Mechanical Engineering, Materials, Manufacturing, Plastics, Aerospace, Architecture, Green Engineering, and Bio Engineering (see full range of subjects supported), CES EduPack can help to link courses in these different areas through the use of a common resource. A campus-wide licence is a particularly useful mechanism for achieving such linkages.

CES EduPack customers include departments that are developing teaching programs that make such common themes explicit—sometimes, they use the term spine (e.g., 'design-spine', 'materials spine', or 'sustainability spine') to describe a central core that runs through all of their courses. EduPack is a useful resource for such programs.


CES EduPack can be used to support teaching that fulfils many key learning outcomes, making it a useful tool when designing curricula that comply with modern outcome-based systems for quality assurance. Teaching with CES EduPack supports initiatives such as the CDIO (Concept Design Implement Operate) Syllabus in Engineering programs, which encourages similar learning outcomes to those required by leading accredditation groups such as ABET and the European EUR-ACE system.

No teaching resource, be it textbook or software, can help a student achieve a learning outcome by itself. It is by the educator that students are guided through the most important topics, in a logical order, at the right level, and with an opportunity to question and see different examples.

In the figure below, we display key areas at the second level headings for the CDIO criteria where we think students' work with CES EduPack can help. In order to secure accreditation in some of the major accreditation systems around the world, this is a good starting point.


Examples of learning outcomes and accreditation criteria that can be supported by CES EduPack