The undergraduate experience in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) in Japan differs from that at U.S. institutions in several respects. While MSE programs at many U.S. universities exist as established departments, it is rare to find MSE departments in Japan. Therefore, materials science education in Japan is somewhat fractured as it is intermingled with other disciplines and spread across a variety of departments such as applied physics, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, and bioengineering. Here, I will report on the challenges of materials science education in Japanese universities focusing on the Department of Applied Physics at Keio University as an example. The challenge is two-fold: 1) stimulating student interest in MSE before undergraduate students choose their home department/major at the conclusion of their first year and 2) providing a rigorous MSE curriculum that will prepare students for post-graduate education both domestically and abroad. For this purpose, we have adopted a U.S. teaching style comprising two 90-minute lectures per week (instead of the one customarily given in Japan), weekly homework assignments, discussion sessions with teaching assistants, and office hours. Although these are standard pedagogical practices in the U.S., they represent major changes in instruction and culture at Keio that have therefore been met with resistance from both some faculty members and students. I shall discuss how we have addressed these challenges and have stimulated student interest in MSE at Keio University.
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C. R. Barrett, W. D. Nix, and A. S. Tetelman, “The Principles of Engineering Materials,” (Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1973)
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Kohei, K.M. Materials Science Education at Keio University: Adopting U.S. Instruction Practices in Japan. MRS Online Proceedings Library 760, 13 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1557/PROC-760-JJ1.3