By Daniel Estep, College of Engineering and Architecture intern
 
 
PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University student chapter of Material Advantage recently received the society’s “Chapter of Excellence” award, one of only five such awards given nationwide. Material Advantage is a national student organization in materials science and engineering (MSE) focused on career development, networking with industry professionals, and community outreach.
 
Heidi M. Coleman, chapter president and a senior material science engineering student at WSU, said the chapter received the award because it excels in its outreach program. The chapter does a wide variety of activities, such as helping with highway cleanup and showing freshman around at MSE day, said Coleman.
“The main purpose of our club isn’t necessarily to build tangible products,” she said. “Our focus is mostly on building relationships that can be brought beyond college and into our careers.”
 
The WSU chapter is particularly focused on outreach efforts to K-12 students.
“Junior high school is the first time kids learn about properties other than width, height and mass in a material,” said Dave Bahr, director of the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and club advisor. “This becomes a stumbling block for a lot of teachers and students.
 
“What we do is make kits comprised of 10 different materials, each with different properties,” he said. “We give them to teachers so that they get a lab for the students.”
 
The WSU students in the chapter fundraise and make the kits, which are distributed to 10 different junior high schools. More than 700 students get the chance to use them.
 
“The chapter is making a difference,” Coleman said. “It enhances junior high school education as well as gives our members networking and ‘real world’ experience in four different disciplines.”
 
Material Advantage is the student arm of four professional societies: ASM International, TMS, AIST and ACerS.