CES EduPack—Customer Report

Professor Paul Predecki, Engineering Department, University of Denver

The CES package is used in an introductory Materials Science course: ENME 2410, Materials Science I which is taught to all 3rd year Mechanical Engineering students and a few Physics students. I currently use the textbook by Shackelford, Materials Science for Engineers. I introduce the use of materials databases as early in the course as I can—right after chapter 6 on mechanical properties.

I am obliged to cover a large number of topics in this course in order to meet accreditation requirements. I devote about one lecture (50min) to Materials Databases which includes a demonstration of a few of the features of the CES database. I also devote half of a homework assignment to materials property databases.

In the lecture I briefly cover: (1) retrieving materials data, changing units, and links to processing, (2) materials selection using the limit stage, (3) materials selection using the gradient line method, the meaning of the slope of the line and effects of changing the slope, and (4) a result intersection example. Step-by-step procedures for using these methods are made available to the students in the lab, to allow them to do the homework assignment and for future use in Engineering Design courses.

For the homework I assign a couple of materials selection problems requiring the use of the gradient line method e.g. highest ratio of TS/density, Young's Modulus/density, highest thermal conductivity at lowest cost, lowest thermal conductivity at lowest cost etc. I also have them use the MatWeb online database for the same problems so that they can compare the results, the retrieval convenience and other features like suppliers, applications etc.

In the future I plan to increase the complexity of the selection by adding more constraints. I also plan to read up on what others are doing in situations where rather limited course time is available for database use. The students really like the package as do I. The graphical nature of the gradient line method is very appealing. A way to represent more than 2 variables graphically would be of interest (analogous to isothermal sections in ternary phase diagrams, perhaps).