SCI1420 Metals, Mining, and the Environment

This course explores materials science through the lens of metallic materials and their environmental and social impacts. From iron and aluminum in mechanical structures, to cobalt and rare earth metals in electronics and renewable energy applications, today's technologies rely on metals and alloys for their unique physical and chemical properties. Metals are part of a larger technological system, however, with complex social, environmental, political, economic, and ethical implications. Through a series of projects, students in this class will explore the technical processing, microstructure, and behaviors of metallic materials, while researching and discussing sustainability issues related to mining operations, raw material processing, and recycling and disposal. We will critically examine the social and environmental costs of the metals industry and metallic products, and consider our professional and ethical responsibilities as scientists, engineers, designers and global citizens to address larger problems or initiate positive change. The course takes place in a studio-laboratory setting, where teams will implement self-directed project plans guided by their own interests and goals, apply a range of materials testing and analytical techniques, and produce a range of project deliverables that reflect an interdisciplinary understanding of metallic materials and their impacts.