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This fall, 15 first-year students learned how natural and man-made materials have influenced civilizations. Taught by Mehmet Uz, professor of chemical engineering, the seminar explored material types and the techniques used to transform them into useful objects. It also focused on how these materials affect peoples of the past and present.

“Most of us do not realize and appreciate that the development of different materials had a significant effect on the development of different tools and technology, which affected human life since the dawn of civilization – from art to arms, from kitchen to space technology,” says Uz. “Each new idea or theory leading to inventions that significantly altered the way of life throughout history depended on the availability or development of suitable materials and their transfer to practice.”

Shelley Dreibelbis ’09 (Berwyn, Pa.) enjoyed the class’ variety. Videos, discussions, and hands-on labs allowed her and her classmates to gain a comprehensive understanding of how materials impact society. She also credits Uz with making the topics interesting.

“I have learned to think through a different perspective,” she says. “Professor Uz has a unique way of teaching a class. He is a very enthusiastic professor with a great sense of humor. He always tried to make the class fun and exciting, and he was concerned about the students and the topics the class was interested in learning about.”

To give students an insider’s view on how materials influence law enforcement, Uz arranged for Lt. Scott Casterline of the Easton Police Department to speak about the technology police officers use on a daily basis. He described his protective gear and how weaponry has evolved over the years. To prepare for Casterline’s talk, students viewed a History Channel presentation on technology’s impact on law and order, including forensics.

A recipient of grants from NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy, Uz has written numerous technical reports and papers for those agencies, as well as articles in academic publications such as Journal of Nuclear Materials. He has been a frequent researcher at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, where he has collaborated with Lafayette students, and NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. He is a past recipient of the Carl R. and Ingeborg Beidleman Research Award recognizing excellence in applied research or scholarship.

Categorized in: Academic News