Structural Materials: Selection and Economics

Billions of tons of structural materials, such as steel, aluminum, and titanium are used every year. Learn where, why, and when they are used.

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Estimated 3 weeks
2–3 hours per week
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About this course

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From skyscrapers to transportation infrastructure, structural materials dominate the human landscape. Learning the principles that govern their selection is essential for any aspiring or practicing engineer.

This engineering course will introduce you to the key principles of structural materials selection through a practical curriculum rooted in the real world. The principles taught are general enough to be applied across many domains. Key points are emphasized with interesting examples and anecdotes from industry and academia.

This course benefits aspiring engineers and students with no previous experience as well as the seasoned professional.

Image (c) Eagar, Thomas

At a glance

  • Institution: MITx
  • Subject: Engineering
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    Secondary school (high school); basic mathematics

  • Language: English

What you'll learn

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  • Externalities Of Materials Selection
  • Material Price, Cost and Abundance
  • Properties, Limits and Ratio Analysis of Structural Materials
  • How structured materials are manufactured and processed

Lecture 1: Introduction to externalities of materials selection, comprising social, political, economic, military, cultural, environmental and other effects.

Lecture 2: Introduction to relationship between material cost, abundance and usage. Factors influencing availability such as energy density and recyclability are also discussed.

Lecture 3: Introduction to the properties of materials that influence use in structural applications. Discussion of ratio analysis using among other examples steel, aluminum, and titanium.

Lecture 4: Discusses manufacturing and processing factors that effect material choice in various applications. Introduction to causes of material failures.

Learner testimonials

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"I would highly recommend the class. There are so many real world examples that you will use as an engineer." -- Former Student

"I really like the real world application, I feel like this has been the class that I have learned the most from and will help me in the future." -- Former Student

About the instructors

Who can take this course?

Unfortunately, learners from one or more of the following countries or regions will not be able to register for this course: Iran, Cuba and the Crimea region of Ukraine. While edX has sought licenses from the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer our courses to learners in these countries and regions, the licenses we have received are not broad enough to allow us to offer this course in all locations. edX truly regrets that U.S. sanctions prevent us from offering all of our courses to everyone, no matter where they live.