MSE Hosts High School Students to Introduce the Field of Study

in NEWS, Spotlight STEM (Outreach & Diversity), Students

Students visit MSE for 2018 ASM Materials Experience New England

By Nicole Havens, COM ’20

The Boston University Division of Materials Science and Engineering hosted around 55 students for 2018 ASM Materials Experience New England on Monday, May 21. The event was organized by volunteers from four of the ASM International New England chapters, and attended by high school sophomores and juniors.

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  • Students at the 2018 ASM event on May 21, 2018.

  • Students learn about phase changes in solids in the Shape Memory Alloy module, which demonstrates the properties of Nitinol.

  • Processes for metal forming are described in the Spartan Materials Forming module.

  • Processes for metal forming are described in the Spartan Materials Forming module.

  • Students build and test structures made of popsicle sticks to learn about characterizing materials in the Materials Properties module with Instron.

  • A hand-pumped injection molding machine teaches students about polymer manufacturing in the Polymers and 3D Printing module.

  • A hand-pumped injection molding machine teaches students about polymer manufacturing in the Polymers and 3D Printing module.

  • The Cryogenics module demonstrates the various ways materials behave when introduced to liquid nitrogen.

  • Students take home several goodies, including a screwdriver that they have injection molded themselves.

  • Students examine several biomedical devices manufactured using nitinol in the Shape Memory Alloys module.

  • End of day recap and concluding remarks.

  • End of day recap and concluding remarks.


ASM International
is a widely-known professional organization that looks to connect metals-centric materials professionals with one another. It also provides resources for research in the field of materials science.

A partnership between the BU Division of Materials Science and Engineering and the local ASM International chapters began in 2012 when the institution agreed to co-host an event called ASM Materials Experience New England.

The goal of the event is to engage high school students and stimulate interest in the field of materials science and engineering.

One of the event volunteers and a longtime executive committee member of the ASM International Central Massachusetts chapter, Joseph Oparowski, noted that the event hopes to highlight a previously unknown career path to students.

“They are at a turning point where they have to soon consider a career or college,” Oparowski said. “These events give them another choice.”

The all-day event features six 25-minute learning module sessions led by industry volunteers from ASM International and graduate student volunteers from the BU chapter of ASM International.

The session topics are carefully designed to ensure topical and important concepts from the field of materials science and engineering. The students also participate in hands-on activities and group discussions.

Gary Haupt, a metallurgist process engineering manager of CPS Technologies Corporation and board member of the ASM International Rhode Island chapter, mentioned that this event provides a unique opportunity for students to interact with professionals and graduate students in the field.

“The goal is to expose students to the wonderful world of engineering in general, and materials engineering in particular,” Haupt said.

This year, each session was held in the BU Engineering Product Innovation Center. Each session was staffed by one to three instructors and attended by eight high school students.

Learning modules included cryogenic phenomena, shape memory alloys, Spartan materials forming, corrosion and batters, polymers and 3D printing, and material properties.

Students participate in the Spartan materials forming module during 2018 ASM Materials Experience New England.
President of Fay Butler Fab/Metal Shaping and member of the ASM International Central Massachusetts chapter Fay Butler leads student participants in the the Spartan materials module during 2018 ASM Materials Experience New England.

Hadassah Flagg, a student who attended the event, said her favorite session was on shape memory alloys.

Flagg explained that she particularly liked the small group sizes and getting a close look at how the material was used in different ways.

“I’d say the biggest takeaway was how broad materials science really is,” Flagg said. “It hadn’t really dawned on me beforehand how much relates to the field.”

This year’s event marked another stride in the continued collaboration between the Division of Materials Science and Engineering and ASM International.

“I hope that the event reinforced for the students the excitement of learning new things,” said Chris Craven, a materials research scientist at Desktop Metal and one of the event volunteers. “I hope they got a glimpse of just how dynamic the world can be if you take the initiative to explore it.”

If you would like to get involved with BU’s ASM International chapter, please contact Paul Gasper at pgasper@bu.edu.