Teaching and Outreach

Teaching

MSE Courses

  • MSE 235 Materials Properties Laboratory (sophomore-level lab) short syllabus
  • MSE 367 Materials Processing Laboratory (junior-level lab)
  • MSE 497 Structure and Properties of Organic Materials (3 CH junior core course)
  • MSE 597 Chemical Admixtures in Concrete (1.5 CH course for upper-level undergrads and graduate students in MSE and Civil Engineering) short syllabus
  • MSE 597 Polymer Physics (1.5 CH course for upper-level undergrads and graduate students in MSE) short syllabus

Guest Lectures

  • MSE 190 Introduction to Soft Materials (view slides)
  • ENGR 131 Introduction to Materials Engineering (view slides)
  • ENGR 194 Women In Engineering seminar (slides on undergraduate research opportunities)
  • ENGR 494 Women in the Workplace

Outreach

K-12 Efforts

Prof. Erk and her research group participate in a variety of outreach activities directed at k-12 students, including recruiting and educational events for high school students sponsored by Purdue's Women in Engineering Program, Purdue's 4-H Round-Up, and the Purdue Minority in Engineering Program. Additionally, Prof. Erk is involved in the NSF-funded “Science Learning through Engineering Design” (SLED, award #0962840) Program at Purdue. She currently leads a design team composed of Purdue faculty and local elementary teachers that develops inquiry-design activities and lesson plans for grades 3-6 that are in-line with Indiana state math and science standards and the national Next Generation Science Standards. Activities are communicated to local teachers during a 2-week summer institute and are publicly available through the SLED Group on STEMEd hub.

Following images are from: Erk, K.A.; Lumkes, J.; Shambach, J.; Braile, L.; Brickler, A.; Matthys, A., "Designing a Sound Reducing Wall", from the September issues of Science and Children, 2015. link PDF

Testing station for the "Sound Reducing Wall" SLED activity for grade 3 classroom.

Testing station for the "Sound Reducing Wall" SLED activity for grade 3 classroom.

Students building their sound reducing wall with their teacher.

Students building their sound reducing wall with their teacher.

Example of a group design for a sound reducing wall.

Example of a group design for a sound reducing wall.

College-Level Efforts

Prof. Erk and her research group actively participate in activities sponsored by Purdue's Women in Engineering Program, including the Graduate and Undergraduate Mentoring Program. Prof. Erk has also been an invited lecturer in ENGR 194, the first year engineering seminar for women engineering students. Additionally, Prof. Erk is developing a new educational and research collaboration with Ivy Tech Community College in Lafayette, Indiana. Prof. Erk and her group are in the process of developing curriculum and lab activities for ITCC's Pre-Engineering Program (fact sheet) that relate to materials research and structure-property relationships of infrastructure materials specifically.

Contributions to ASEE

Erk, K. A., Nash, J. J., & Woods, H. K. (2016, June), Using Mechanical Testing of Disposable Plastic Cups to Illustrate Processing-Structure-Property Relationships in an Introductory Materials Laboratory Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27150

Abstract: A hands-on activity was implemented in a sophomore-level materials engineering laboratory to illustrate how the structure and properties of polymeric materials are directly influenced by the method of processing. The mechanical properties of specimens cut from the walls of poly(ethylene terephthalate) cups, oriented parallel and perpendicular to the thermoforming direction, were measured in tension. The parallel sample displayed greater elastic moduli, yield stress, and predominantly ductile deformation behavior compared to the relatively weaker and more brittle perpendicular sample. This observed mechanical anisotropy was related to the processing-induced orientation of polymer molecules within the cup. Students’ learning outcomes were assessed and it was found that processing-structure-property relationships were communicated most effectively by encouraging the students to describe their ideas through molecular-scale sketches and further challenging them to design their own hypothesis-driven experiments as compared to a traditionally prescribed lab activity. link to full paper

Glossary of materials engineering terminology, Materials list and step-by-step instructions, Pre-activity reading and discussion questions.

Lab activity was adapted from the following publication: K.A. Erk, M. Rhein, M. Krafcik, and S. Ydstie, "Demonstrating the Effects of Processing on the Structure and Physical Properties of Plastic Using Disposable PETE Cups," Journal of Chemical Education, 2015. doi: 10.1021/acs.jchemed.5b00082. link (PDF of author accepted version)