As a representative of the SPE Composites division, I was recently asked if we would participate in the development of a curriculum for an engineering school to offer a major in Composite Engineering. My first question is: Where are the educational centers for composites today?
Here are a few that I know of:
- Winona State
- University of Delaware
- Virginia Tech
- UMass Lowell
- Michigan State
I believe we should start by looking at the existing programs, then develop an idea for how the SPE can help start new programs, and/or certify existing ones. I believe most of the programs out there actually reside within a larger Materials Engineering department, but are not separate Composite Engineering degree programs. I believe MIT, Tufts, CalTech, and many others do something like that.
This blog is the perfect place to get started on such a discussion. I think we should open it up to a much wider group to get the greatest possible inputs.
I started thinking about labs, and projects that could be done to teach composites, software that would be relevant, math courses that would be useful. But then, I kept coming back to the initial question of what has already been done? I think we should start with a survey of existing programs.
Beginning with Vocational/ Technical school level courses, there are several places to get technician training. These are usually short courses, of between 3 days and 2 weeks, and not a full semester, or a full year. They usually cover specific areas, like tool making, or repair.
At the college level, there are many programs in Materials, Plastics, Processing, Testing, Nanomaterials, etc., but I am not aware of any institution that offers Composite Engineering as Major or concentration. I recently asked a professor at UMass Lowell about this, and she said she didn’t know if there was enough demand for the specialty – is there?
Andy Rich, Chairman Composites Division SPE