Materials Science Engineering Open House Looks to Recruit New Students

The Materials Science Honor Society and representatives of the material science engineering major at UCI hosted an open house to recruit new students on Tuesday, November 12.

From 1 to 4 p.m., students checked-in at the front of Engineering Tower and received a list of the rooms to explore in the building.

Each room featured an area designated for a demonstration of different aspects of the major in the hopes of recruiting undecided students to the sciences.

As soon as students exited the elevator in the upper corridors of Engineering Tower, they were greeted with a pleasant offering of free chips, cookies and water from volunteers to take on their journey. Multiple demonstrations were set up in each classroom.

After students visited a certain station, they would receive a stamp noting that they have completed it. A minimum of five stamps had to be returned to the check-in station in order to receive a prize once the tour was over.

The first demonstration featured specimens underneath a microscope. This included a bumblebee, space tile and a ceramic piece. The high-powered microscope, known as an SEM, can view images down to the lengths of only a few hundred nanometers, and made students highly fascinated.

The next demonstration featured X-Ray Diffraction, which is used to distinguish different types of materials such as aluminum, copper and steel. Students also watched the process of how to display diffraction patterns and had the opportunity to speak with the faculty and student volunteers about their questions and comments involving the materials science engineering major, or MatSci.

“I got a better introduction to Materials Science here than in any of my other engineering classes. It was the first time I’d seen a lot of the materials testing done in person, and I’m a fourth year!” mechanical and aerospace engineering student Jacqueline Leah Thomas said.

The second room featured two separate demonstrations. The first was called the Superconductor, which displayed the reaction following liquid nitrogen being poured onto magnets.

The next station in the room was titled “Iced Newspaper.” Students watching were offered a pair of goggles. After showing how easily newspaper print can tear, the student conducting the experiment took out a block of ice and attempted to smash it with his hammer, which shattered. Next, demonstrators showed how a different newspaper frozen in the ice fails to break, even after the same material tore easily minutes earlier.

In the last room, there was a station demonstrating the Tensile test. The point of the Tensile test was to continue with the theme of the materials sciences being about breaking objects. Polymer samples and metal samples were placed into a state of extreme tension for the test, being elongated on both ends until they would eventually fracture.

Attendees interested in the actual calculations of such tests, including the amount of pressure exerted that was necessary for rupture were encouraged to study this division of materials science engineering.

Finally, the last experiment was the Impact station, where a massive hammer slammed into two materials: one at room temperature and the other cooled with liquid nitrogen. The point of the test was to determine the strength of the materials, and with such a giant tool being used, many students seemed to enjoy this lab the most.

Once all of the stations were completed and all of the stamps were collected from each station, students returned to the front of Engineering Tower, pulled a numbered popsicle stick and received a prize.

“It was so much fun to participate in the Materials Fair with my blow torch and space shuttle tile, but I never expected over 100 students would show up!” Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science Martha Mecartney said.