3.042 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Materials Project Laboratory


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1 hour / session

Labs: 2 sessions / week, 3 hours / session

General Information

Subject 3.042 (previously numbered 3.082) has existed in its present form for more than a decade, when it replaced four separate laboratories specializing in DMSE’s then restricted elective areas (ceramics, electronic materials, metals, and polymers.) Thus 3.042 is a single laboratory centered on materials processing and design that deals with all types of materials.

As its name implies, the 3.042 Materials Project Laboratory involves working with such operations as investment casting of metals, injection molding of polymers, and sintering of ceramics. After all the abstraction and theory in the lecture part of the DMSE curriculum, many students have found this hands-on experience with materials to be very fun stuff - several have said that 3.042/3.082 was their favorite DMSE subject. The lab is more than operating processing equipment, however. It is intended also to emulate professional practice in materials engineering project management, with aspects of design, analysis, teamwork, literature and patent searching, Web creation and oral presentation, and more.

Academic Procedures

Regular laboratory hours are Tuesday/Thursday 2-5pm. Students are free to perform laboratory work whenever they wish, although safety rules prohibit doing laboratory work while alone.

3.042 is one of DMSE’s two communication-intensive; subjects (3.014 is the other), and student communication will be a substantial portion of the grade. Each team will develop a Web site containing the project’s goals, background, results, conclusions, etc.; this site takes the place of the usual written report. It often works well to have each team member be responsible for one of the major Web pages (background, design, materials, processing). At the time of the final presentation on Thursday Week #14, the team will also have prepared a hallway display of their project, similar to those of earlier 3.042 teams which are to be found in various hallways around DMSE.

The Web site will also contain a link to the team’s electronic laboratory notebook, which will be kept current as the term progresses. The notebook will contain a concise but thorough description of each day’s results and plans, along with data analyses and scanned-in pictures and graphs of important results. The notebook will also contain safety-related issues, such as MSDS’s for each material used and safety protocols for each experimental procedure carried out by the team.


Staying on schedule is probably the most difficult aspect of 3.042, and as the end of the term approached almost all past teams have wished they’d worked faster and more efficiently at the first of the term. Teams have to delegate tasks to individual members and brainstorm continually about who’s to do what next. Some dates to keep in mind, and to incorporate into your Gantt charts.


1 Introductory lecture, lab tours, initial discussion/brainstorming of projects
2 Teams present brief overview of proposed projects
3 Team Web site up with content
4 Formal design review
5-9 Project teams present progress and plans
10 All teams showcase prototypes
14 Final presentations, posters

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008