Materials Science & Engineering

Graduate Courses


This course is intended to serve as a general introduction to various aspects pertaining to the application of synthetic and natural materials in medicine and healthcare. This course will provide the student with a general understanding of the properties of a wide range of materials used in clinical practice. The physical and mechanical property requirements for the long-term efficacy of biomaterials in the augmentation, repair, replacement or regeneration of tissues will be described. The physico-chemical interactions between the biomaterial and the physiological environment will be highlighted. The course will provide a general understanding of the application of a combination of synthetic and biological moieties to elicit a specific physiological response. Examples of the use of biomaterials in drug delivery, theranostic, orthopedic, dental, cardiovascular, ocular, wound closure and the more recent lab-on-chip applications will be outlined. This course will highlight the basic terminology used in this field and provide the background to enable the student to review the latest research in scientific journals. This course will demonstrate the interdisciplinary issues involved in biomaterials design, synthesis, evaluation and analysis, so that students may seek a job in the medical device industry or pursue research in this rapidly expanding field. Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have received credit for the Special Topics (ME 593/MTE 594) version of the same course, or for ME/BME 4814 Biomedical Materials.

MTE 509. Electron Microscopy

This course introduces students to the theory, fundamental operating principles, and specimen preparation techniques of scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS). The primary emphasis is placed on practical SEM, TEM, and x-ray microanalysis of materials. Topics to be covered include basic principles of the electron microscopy; SEM instrumentation, image formation and interpretation, qualitative and quantitative x-ray microanalysis in SEM; electron diffraction and diffraction contrast imaging in TEM. Various application examples of SEM and TEM in materials research will be discussed. Lab work will be included. The course is available to graduate students.


This course, (along with its companion course MTE 512 Properties and Performance of Engineering Materials), is designed to provide a comprehensive review of the fundamental principles of Materials Science and Engineering for incoming graduate students. In the first part of this 2-set sequence, the structure in materials ranging from the sub-atomic to the macroscopic including nano, micro and macromolecular structures will be discussed to highlight bonding mechanisms, crystallinity and defect patterns. Representative thermodynamic and kinetic aspects such as diffusion, phase diagrams, nucleation and growth and TTT diagrams will be discussed. Major structural parameters that effect of performance in materials including plastics, metallic alloys, ceramics and glasses will be emphasized. The principal processing techniques to shape materials and the effects of processing on structure will be highlighted. (Prerequisites: senior or graduate standing or consent of the instructor.) Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE 594S).


The two introductory classes on materials science (MTE511 and MTE512) describe the structure-property relationships in materials. In MTE511, the principal structural parameters in metals, ceramics, glasses and plastics were highlighted. The effects of processing on the structure were also discussed. The purpose of this class is to provide a basic knowledge of the principles pertaining to the physical, mechanical and chemical properties of materials. The primary focus of this class will be on mechanical properties. The thermal, tensile, compressive, flexural and shear properties of metallic alloys, ceramics and glasses and plastics will be discussed. Fundamental aspects of fracture mechanics and viscoelasticity will be presented. An overview of dynamic properties such as fatigue, impact and creep will be provided. The relationship between the structural parameters and the preceding mechanical properties will be described. Basic composite theories will be presented to describe fiber-reinforced composites and nanocomposites. Various factors associated with material degradation during use will be discussed. Some introductory definitions of electrical and optical properties will be outlined. (Prerequisites: senior or graduate standing or consent of the instructor.) Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE594P).


The first half of the course covers the axiomatic
design method, applied to simultaneous product
and process design for concurrent engineering,
with the emphasis on process and manufacturing
tool design. Basic design principles as well as
qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis
of designs are developed. The second half of the
course addresses methods of engineering analysis
of manufacturing processes, to support machine
tool and process design. Basic types of engineering
analysis are applied to manufacturing situations,
including elasticity, plasticity, heat transfer, mechanics
and cost analysis. Special attention will be
given to the mechanics of machining (traditional,
nontraditional and grinding) and the production
of surfaces. Students, work in groups on a series
of projects.

MTE 526. Advanced Thermodynamics

Thermodynamics of solutionsphase equilibria Ellingham diagrams, binary and ternary phase diagrams, reactions between gasses and condensed phases, reactions within condensed phases, thermodynamics of surfaces, defects and electrochemistry. Applications to materials processing and degradation will be presented and discussed. Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE 594T).

MTE 530. Computational Thermodynamics

The objective of this course is to introduce the basic principles of computational thermodynamics (CALPHAD). Students will be exposed to the basic thermodynamic simulation in single-component, binary, ternary, and higher-order systems for various alloys and ceramics systems. The course will emphasize the linkage of computational thermodynamics with the real industry challenges faced in the next-generation materials design. In addition, the fundamental concepts of multiscale modeling, including the atomic scale, mesoscale and macroscale modeling, will also be introduced to students. Recommended Background: A graduate major in engineering or science is recommended, but not required. It is preferred that students have taken MTE526/ME5326 Advanced Thermodynamics or equivalent courses.

MTE 532. X-Ray Diffraction and Crystallography

This course discusses the fundamentals of crystallography and X-ray diffraction (XRD) of metals, ceramics and polymers. It introduces graduate students to the main issues and techniques of diffraction analysis as they relate to materials. The techniques for the experimental phase identification and determination of phase fraction via XRD will be reviewed. Topics covered include: basic X-ray physics, basic crystallography, fundamentals of XRD, XRD instrumentation and analysis techniques. Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE 594C).

MTE 540. Analytical Methods in Materials Engineering

Heat transfer and diffusion kinetics are applied to the solution of materials engineering problems. Mathematical and numerical methods for the solutions to Fouriers and Picks laws for a variety of boundary conditions will be presented and discussed. The primary emphasis is given heat treatment and surface modification processes. Topics to be covered include solutionizing, quenching, and carburization heat treatment.

MTE 550. Phase Transformations in Materials

This course is intended to provide a fundamental understanding of thermodynamic and kinetic principles associated with phase transformations. The mechanisms of phase transformations will be discussed in terms of driving forces to establish a theoretical background for various physical phenomena. The principles of nucleation and growth and spinodal transformations will be described. The theoretical analysis of diffusion controlled and interface controlled growth will be presented The basic concepts of martensitic transformations will be highlighted. Specific examples will include solidification, crystallization, precipitation, sintering, phase separation and transformation toughening.


An introductory course on the structure, processing,
and properties of food. Topics covered
include: food structure and rheology, plant and
animal tissues, texture, glass transition, gels,
emulsions, micelles, food additives, food coloring,
starches, baked goods, mechanical properties,
elasticity, viscoelastic nature of food products,
characteristics of food powders, fat eutectics, freezing
and cooking of food, manufacturing processes,
cereal processing, chocolate manufacture, microbial
growth, fermentation, transport phenomena
in food processing, kinetics, preserving and
packaging of food, testing of food. Recommended
Background: ES 2001 or equivalent. This course
will be offered in 2012-13 and in alternating years


A material whose properties can respond to an external stimulus in a controlled fashion is referred to as a smart or intelligent material. These materials can be made to undergo changes modulus, shape, porosity, electrical conductivity, physical form, opacity, and magnetic properties based on an external stimulus. The stimuli can include temperature, pH, specific molecules, light, magnetic field, voltage and stress. These stimuli-sensitive materials can be utilized as sensors and as vehicles for the controlled delivery of drugs and other biomolecules in medical applications. Smart materials are also becoming important in other biological areas such as bio-separation, biosensor design, tissue engineering, protein folding, and microfluidics. The use of stimuli-sensitive materials is receiving increasing attention in the development of damage tolerant smart structures in aerospace, marine, automotive and earth quake resistant buildings. The use of smart materials is being explored for a range of applications including protective coatings, corrosion barriers, intelligent batteries, fabrics and food packaging. The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to the various types of smart materials including polymers, ceramic, metallic alloys and composites. Fundamental principles associated with the onset of “smart” property will be highlighted. The principles of self-healable materials based on smart materials will be discussed. The application of smart materials in various fields including sensors, actuators, diagnostics, therapeutics, packaging and other advanced applications will be presented. Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course.

MTE 558. Plastics

This course will provide an integrated overview of the design, selection and use of synthetic plastics. The basic chemistry associated with polymerization and the structure of commercial plastics will be described. Various aspects of polymer crystallization and glass transition will be outlined. Salient aspects of fluid flow and heat transfer during the processing of plastics will be highlighted. Fundamentals of the diverse processing operations used to shape plastics and the resulting structures that develop after processing will be discussed. The mechanical behavior of plastics including elastic deformation, rubber elasticity, yielding, viscoelasticity, fracture and creep will be discussed. Plastic degradation and environmental issues associated with recycling and disposal of plastics will be examined. Typical techniques used in the analysis and testing of plastics will be described and a working knowledge of various terminologies used in commercial practice will be provided. Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE 594A).


The failure and wear-out mechanisms for a variety of materials (metals, ceramics, polymers, composites and microelectronics) and applications will be presented and discussed. Multi-axial failure theories and fracture mechanics will be discussed. The methodology and techniques for reliability analysis will also be presented and discussed. A materials systems approach will be used. (Prerequisites: ES 2502 and ME 3023 or equivalent, and senior or graduate standing in engineering or science.) Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE593C/MTE594C).


This course introduces students to current developments
in nanoscale science and technology. The
current advance of materials and devices constituting
of building blocks of metals, semiconductors,
ceramics or polymers that are nanometer size (1-
100 nm) are reviewed. The profound implications
for technology and science of this research field
are discussed. The differences of the properties of
matter on the nanometer scale from those on the
macroscopic scale due to the size confinement,
predominance of interfacial phenomena and
quantum mechanics are studied. The main issues
and techniques relevant to science and technologies
on the nanometer scale are considered. New
developments in this field and future perspectives
are presented. Topics covered include: fabrication
of nanoscale structures, characterization at
nanoscale, molecular electronics, nanoscale mechanics,
new architecture, nano-optics and societal
impacts. Recommended background:
ES 2001 Introduction to Materials or equivalent.

MTE 580. Materials Science and Engineering Seminar

Reports on the state-of-the-art in various areas of research and development in materials science and engineering will be presented by the faculty and outside experts. Reports on graduate student research in progress will also be required.

MTE 5816. Ceramics and Glasses for Engineering Applications

This course develops an understanding of the processing, structure, property, performance relationships in crystalline and vitreous ceramics. The topics covered include crystal structure, glassy structure, phase diagrams, microstructures, mechanical properties, optical properties, thermal properties, and materials selection for ceramic materials. In addition the methods for processing ceramics for a variety of products will be included. Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course.


This course emphasizes research applications of advanced surface metrology, including the measurement
and analysis of surface roughness. Surface
metrology can be important in a wide variety
of situations including adhesion, friction, catalysis,
heat transfer, mass transfer, scattering, biological
growth, wear and wetting. These situations impact
practically all the engineering disciplines and
sciences. The course begins by considering basic
principles and conventional analyses, and methods.
Measurement and analysis methods are critically
reviewed for utility. Students learn advanced
methods for differentiating surface textures that
are suspected of being different because of their
performance or manufacture. Students will also
learn methods for making correlations between
surface textures and behavioral and manufacturing
parameters. The results of applying these methods
can be used to support the design and manufacture
of surface textures, and to address issues in
quality assurance. Examples of research from a
broad range of applications are presented, including,
food science, pavements, friction, adhesion,
machining and grinding. Students do a major
project of their choosing, which can involve either
an in-depth literature review, or surface measurement
and analysis. The facilities of WPI’s Surface
Metrology Laboratory are available for making
measurements for selected projects. Software for
advanced analysis methods is also available for use
in the course. No previous knowledge of surface
metrology is required. Students should have some
background in engineering, math or science.

MTE 5844. Corrosion and Corrosion Control

An introductory course on corrosion; aqueous corrosion, stress corrosion cracking and hydrogen effects in metals will be presented. High-temperature oxidation, carburization and sulfidation will be discussed. Discussions focus on current corrosive engineering problems and research. Note: Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course.


An introductory course on electrochemical engineering, fuel cells and batteries. With escalating oil prices and increasing environmental concerns, increasing attention is being paid to the development of electrochemical devices to replace
traditional energy. Here several types of batteries and fuel cells will be discussed. Topics covered include: basic electrochemistry, lithium ion battery, proton exchange membrane fuel cell, solid oxide fuel cell, electrochemical method. Recommended background: ES2001 or equivalent. Note: Students
cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics version of the same course (MTE 594E).

MTE 594. Special Topics

Theoretical or experimental studies in subjects of interest to graduate students in materials science and engineering.


This course will provide an overview of a multitude of biomedical applications of robotics. Applications covered include: image-guided surgery, percutaneous therapy, localization, robot-assisted surgery, simulation and augmented reality, laboratory and operating room automation, robotic rehabilitation, and socially assistive robots. Specific subject matter includes medical imaging, coordinate systems and representations in 3D space, robot kinematics and control, validation, haptics, teleoperation, registration, calibration, image processing, tracking, and human-robot interaction.  Topics will be discussed in lecture format followed by interactive discussion of related literature. The course will culminate in a team project covering one or more of the primary course focus areas. Students cannot receive credit for this course if they have taken the Special Topics (ME 593U) version of the same course.