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Graduate Courses

Special Topics Graduate Courses (AY 2021 – 22)

ME 593/MFE 594/MTE 594:  Applied Machine Learning for Materials and Mechanical Engineering – Professor Sneha Narra

(offered D Term 2022)

This course will cover Machine Learning (ML) topics that are relevant for engineering problems, where data can be image-based and/or numeric. Sometimes, depending on a specific problem, we observe that the data is available in abundance or is limited in quantity, which can also influence the choice of ML technique that is used for analysis. Other Machine Learning courses mostly make students work on generic datasets. While working on these datasets, students from engineering disciplines sometimes find it difficult to grasp “engineering” context of the data. Specifically, this course will discuss fundamentals of various ML techniques and provide an opportunity to implement these techniques on data relevant to mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering problems. With this background, students can further explore other ML techniques either by self-learning or by attending advanced courses in data analytics. By the end of this course, the aim is to equip students with basic tools that they can use in their engineering-related work. This course covers the topics listed below. They are subject to change based on studentfeedback.

• Probability and Bayes Theory

• Dimensionality Reduction – Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Decision Tree

• Ensembles

• Multivariate Regression

• Unsupervised Learning – Clustering

• Supervised Learning – Neural Networks

• Computer Vision


 MTE 594:  Heat Treating of Steels – Professor Richard Sisson

(offered online A and B Terms 2021)

Weekly ZOOM meetings, day and time to be determined.

Most cast, forged or powder metallurgy steel parts require heat treatment to obtain the specified properties. In this course the fundamentals of the heat treatment of steels will be addressed (i.e., normalizing, annealing, austempering, austforming, marquenching and hardening/quenching/tempering). In addition, the important surface engineering processes (carburizing, carbonitriding, nitriding, ferritic nitrocarburizing, boronizing and aluminizing) will be analyzed. Each process will be fully developed in terms of the thermodynamics, as well as transformation and diffusion kinetics.

Prerequisite: ES2001 Introduction to Materials or equivalent

This course will meet weekly for a semester for one hour. There will be assigned readings, literature reviews and homework.  The course will end with a final oral and/or written exam.


ME 593/MTE 594:  Coatings and Surface Treatment – Professor Satya Shivkumar

(offered online C Term 2022)

The overall purpose of this course is to develop a basic understanding of surface properties in materials and highlight various coating and/or surface modification methodologies to control material performance.  The processes and procedures associated with the surface modification of materials, with a general focus on metallic alloys (but not limited to), will be discussed.  Various aspects pertaining to the heat treatment such as carburizing, nitriding and carbonitriding will be described.  The use of electroplating, physical and chemical vapor deposition on surface modification will be discussed.  The use of thermal spray, ion implantation, lasers and beam technologies to control surface behavior will be highlighted.  The importance of thermal barrier coatings in high temperature applications will be demonstrated.  Salient aspects of smart, intelligent coatings for corrosion control and other applications will be discussed.  The use of surface modification in plastics to control their overall behavior in applications ranging from textiles to medical devices will be introduced.     

 Prerequisite Courses:   Introductory Physics and chemistry.  Differential equations 

Recommended courses:

ME5311/ME5312 Structure and Properties of Materials  

ES2001 Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering 

Course Approach:   Recorded Lectures – done totally online 


ME 593/MTE 594:  Biopolymers – Professor Satya Shivkumar

(offered online D Term 2022)

The purpose of this class is to provide an introduction to some of the common biopolymers in terms of their structure, processing and properties.  The definition of a biopolymer is not very clear.  It can encompass various materials ranging from polypeptides, nucleotides, cellulosics and a variety of other polymers that can be obtained from natural sources.  A new term bioplastic has been coined to describe polymers derived from renewable natural sources that can be used to replace traditional synthetic plastics.  Traditional plastics such as PE, PET etc. can also be obtained from biological sources (as opposed petrochemical) and these are also referred to bioplastics/biopolymers.  In other words, no clear definition.  Biological origin-based plastics (degradable or non-degradable) can be bioplastics.  Degradable plastics (biological or petrochemical origin) can be bioplastics.   This course pertains primarily with bioplastics such as PLA, PHA, thermoplastic starch, cellulosics and other such polymers (i.e., generally considered degradable polymers).  I will also briefly discuss polymers derived from petroleum by products are also designated as biopolymers based on their source of origin, intended application and degradation characteristics (e.g., PE, PMMA).  Biopolymers can be non-degradable, degradable, biodegradable and/or compostable.  In this class, we will focus on some of the major bioplastics (and a few biopolymers), for non-medical applications and some medical applications.  The goal will be to develop a working knowledge of the basics of these polymers.  As indicated above, the primary goal will be to examine the principal, structural, mechanical, processing and degradation aspects associated with Bioplastics used primarily in Non-medical (i.e., consumer based products) applications.  A brief discussion of biopolymers and bioplastics (traditional and more recent) in medical applications will also be included. 

 Specifically, the goals will be: 

  • To provide an introduction to biologically derived polymers in mostly non-medical and some medical applications 
  • To examine various emerging sources of bioplastics 
  • To understand the production, isomerism, crystallization, processing and mechanical properties of the dominant bioplastics such as PLA 
  • To understand the basics of disposal and degradation mechanisms in these polymers for both aerobic and non-aerobic processes 
  • To understand the use of biopolymers in nanoparticles and medical applications 
  • To highlight the current problems and examine the future of these materials 

Course Approach:  Recorded Lectures – done totally online 


MTE 594/MFE 594: Additive Manufacturing: Design and Processing – Professor Sneha Narra

(offered C Term 2022)

Additive Manufacturing (AM) popularly known as 3D printing, is a technique in which parts are fabricated in a layer-by-layer fashion. The focus of this course is on direct metal AM processes that are used in various industries including aerospace, automobile, medical, and energy. AM is an interdisciplinary area majorly combining knowledge from the materials science and mechanical engineering fields. This course covers the well-established knowledge in these areas as they apply to AM and at the same time discuss the challenges in AM and on-going efforts to address these challenges.

Coursework comprises of in-class lectures (includes hands-on activities to demonstrate the underlying physics) and a course project using the laser powder bed fusion AM equipment at WPI. In-class lectures are designed to discuss the technical details of AM processes. As part of the course project, students will follow a step-by-step process to design parts leveraging the unique capabilities of AM and fabricate using the metal printer at WPI. By the end of the course, students will have a broad understanding of AM and mastery of metal AM processes, specifically concerning the processing and an introductory-level understanding of design for AM achieved through the course project. Upon successful completion of the course, students will have the background to pursue AM related job and research opportunities in several fields.


ME 593:  Design and Optimization of Thermal Systems – Professor Jamal Yagoobi

(offered B Term 2021)

This course takes the fundamentals learned in the Thermodynamics, Fluids, and Heat Transfer courses and applies them to real problems in industry. Students learn how to design, simulate, and optimize small and large scale thermal systems. This course focuses on examples from process industries (e.g., chemical, food, gas, petroleum, power, forest products, etc.), HVAC&R systems, cryogenic systems, and others.


ME 593/MFE 594/MTE 594 Medical Device Innovation and Development – Professor Yihao Zheng

(offered A Term 2021)

The goal of this course is to introduce medical device innovation strategies, design and development processes, and provide students with an understanding of how medical device innovations are brought from concept to clinical adoption. Students will have opportunities to practice medical device innovation through a team-based course project. Specific learning outcomes include: 1) describe and apply medical device design and development concepts, such as value proposition, iterative design, concurrent design and manufacturing, intellectual property, and FDA regulation, 2) demonstrate an understanding of emerging themes that are shaping medical device innovation, 3) demonstrate familiarity with innovation and entrepreneurship skills, including customer discovery, market analysis, development planning, and communicating innovation, and 4) gain capability and confidence as innovators, problem solvers, and communicators, particularly in medical device industry but transferable to any career path.  

Target audience: Students interested in a career in medical device industry or research, a methodology towards medical device innovation, or a roadmap for technology commercialization or product development.  This course will also prepare students who plan to take the Ph.D. Candidacy Exam in the Biomechanical Engineering area. 

Recommended background: An undergraduate major in engineering is recommended, but not required.


ME 593/MTE 594 - Printed Electronics and Sensors – Professor Pratap Rao

(offered D Term 2022)

This course will serve as an introduction to printed electronics and sensors, including flexible and stretchable devices, those that are fully printed, and hybrid devices that consist of printed circuits and attached components such as microchips. Processes for printing circuits and functional components, including microdispense, aerosol jet, inkjet, screen, and gravure, will be explored with consideration of their respective advantages and disadvantages in terms of printing resolution, reliability, and speed. Printed materials including metals, polymers, and semiconductors in the form of nanomaterials or reactive inks and pastes will be considered, as will flexible and stretchable plastic and elastomeric substrates. A number of printed sensor applications will be reviewed, including wearable physiological and medical sensors, automotive and aerospace sensors, and approaches to reduce size, weight, power, and cost will be considered. Energy storage and energy harvesting approaches will also be explored. The course will consist of lectures, reading of journal articles, and a course project. Prerequisites: None