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Everyone loves a good mystery. At least that’s the hope of UT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

The department is bringing back one of its most popular formats for Materials Camp 2016, setting up the program to put students through a CSI-like scenario.

While the nature of the camp will, by design, serve to entertain students, it will also feature some real-world science and techniques that students could one day learn in the department should they choose to pursue a career in materials science and engineering.

“We wanted to reach out to the next generation of students and show them what it is we do, and do so in a fun way,” said Claudia Rawn, an associate professor in the department and director of the Center for Materials Processing. “We study the stuff that everyday things are made from, why the materials act certain ways, and how we can improve those things.”

Rawn pointed out that developments impacting products originate not only in materials science but in other engineering disciplines as well.

As an example, she pointed out that aerospace engineers design rockets, computer scientists design processors, and biomedical engineers design knees, but it’s the advancements of materials science in new alloys, semiconductors, and components that make each of those possible.

Held June 6-10, the camp—sponsored jointly by UT, CNS Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Technology for Energy Corporation, and the Oak Ridge Chapter of ASM International—will bring high school students from around the area to campus for “Whodunit? Forensics in Materials and Engineering.”

Students will get hands-on use of some of the more high-end tools in UT’s arsenal, including electron and optical microscopes and X-ray diffraction, to solve the mystery.

By studying and analyzing materials, they will be able to deduce certain things about the “crime,” which will be revealed on their first day of camp.

“Campers will be using some of the most advanced characterization instruments available to really get involved in the science and to take a look at materials at a level beyond anything they’ve seen,” said Rawn. “But they’ll be doing so in a fun, engaging way that will stick with them after the camp has ended.”


David Goddard (865-974-0683,