The Materials Genome Initiative (MGI) calls for the acceleration of the materials development cycle through the integration of experiments and simulations within a data-aware/enabling framework. To realize this vision, MGI recognizes the need for the creation of a new kind of workforce capable of creating and/or deploying advanced informatics tools and methods into the materials discovery/development cycle. To meet this need, an interdisciplinary team at Texas A&M University has developed an interdisciplinary program that indeed goes beyond the prescriptions set forth by the MGI as it incorporates the discipline of engineering systems design as an essential component of the new accelerated materials development paradigm.
The Data-Enabled Discovery and Development of Energy Materials (D3EM) program, funded by the NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) program out of the Division of Graduate Education has enabled the creation of an interdisciplinary graduate program at the intersection of materials science, informatics, and design. The program consists of an interdisciplinary curriculum consisting of cross-disciplinary components in the three fields of materials, informatics and design, followed by an interdisciplinary integrative course that has, as its goal, the solution of a real-world materials discovery/development problem motivated by industry or national laboratories. In addition to the technical component of the curriculum, the D3EM program includes a comprehensive professional skill development syllabus that includes career path planning, communication skills, collaboration, leadership as well as an intensive technical writing program based on the POWER method pioneered by the College of Education and Human Development of Texas A&M University.
The D3EM program was created a partnership between TAMUs Center for Teaching Excellence and six departments across the Colleges of Science (Chemistry and Physics) and Engineering (Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering) and is at its mid point in its time frame. In this talk I will discuss in detail the pedagogical model underpinning the curriculum as well as different aspects of the program as they relate to fostering interdisciplinarity not only within student participants but also among the entire student cohort and participating faculty.