PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University’s student chapter of the joint American Society of Materials/The Materials Society (ASM/TMS) has received an $800 grant to construct an interactive display about materials for the Palouse Discovery Science Center. The group is one of only five student chapters in the country to receive the grant award this year.

The materials society’s grant program allows student chapters to submit a proposal for educational outreach activities for funding consideration. With the goal of creating better awareness about the field of materials science, the WSU students proposed building a permanent display about materials science in the science center, particularly aimed at youth through 12th grade.

“The awareness of materials science engineering as a career escapes most people, meaning we are constantly explaining ourselves to the world – with examples such as plastic decking and silicon chips in computers,’’ said WSU student Wayne Burnett, who worked on the group’s grant proposal. “In Eastern Washington, many students interested in engineering are not exposed to materials science engineering at their high schools, resulting in the loss of hundreds or thousands of potential future pioneers.’’

When constructed this summer, the display will provide descriptions of a variety of materials, from stone to silicon, including information on how they were developed and the way in which they are used. In addition, visitors will be able to look at photos of these materials taken with an electron microscope. The exhibit will also allow students to analyze failures in a variety of materials, using a microscope.  

The WSU student chapter of ASM/TMS, which includes about 25 students, has received many of the society’s national awards in recent years, winning major chapter awards five of the past seven years. Officers during 2003-2004 were Scott Anderson, president, Colin Merriman, vice president, Elly Senn, secretary, and Jon Winterstein, treasurer.