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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Materials Science and Engineering (MATSE)

MATSE 091 (GN) Polymers, Life and Society (3) An exploration of the science and use of polymer materials and their impact on society using a case study approach.

MATSE 091 Polymers, Life and Society (3)
(GN)

Over the course of the last 100 years, polymeric materials have transformed the way we live. Modern transportation systems, much of contemporary medicine and the entire electronics and computer industry would not be possible without polymers. In order to understand the nature of these materials and why they are ubiquitous in modern society, this course will provide students with a basic knowledge of the structure, synthesis and properties of these materials, starting with atoms and molecules and proceeding through basic elements of the chemistry and physics of these materials. Students will discover the commonalities and differences between synthetic polymers, such as polyesters and nylons, and natural or biological polymers, such as cotton and silk. In order to provide a narrative thread, the course will be structured in terms of "case studies" in the history of the development of specific materials (e.g., nylon) and ideas about their structure, starting from a consideration of the fundamental nature of matter. This approach will not only give students an overview of the nature and properties of polymer materials, but also show them how the discipline fits into the larger context of the nature of scientific discovery and the interplay of innovation, vision, luck, perseverance, and personalities involved in this development. Last but not least, the course will make students aware of a number of contemporary global concerns about the use of polymers in general and some polymers (and additives) in particular, again through the medium of specific case studies.

The intended audiences include undergraduates at Penn State, as well as adult learners who need to have a broader knowledge of polymer materials. Learning and discovery will be facilitat3ed by a broad range of interactive programs and animations developed over the last five years by faculty in the Department of Material Science and Engineering. A self-contained CD incorporating this material and structured as a complete self-learning tool will be used in instruction. The course material is being constructed using the Macromedia program Director, which allows versions of the CD that run on Windows and the Mac platform to be made available. Students will also need access to the internet, as they will also use on-line resources to discover and analyze material. Interactive on-line quizzes will provide instantaneous feedback and allow students to assess their progress. Overall student assessment will be based on a combination of quizzes of this type, term projects and an "open-book" final exam.

MATSE 091 will be offered three times each year, in the Fall, Spring, and the first-six week summer session, commencing Fall 2005.


General Education: GN
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2005

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.



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