In an era of tight budgets, Universities must plan their capital spending on lab equipment carefully. This process is even more critical for smaller colleges and satellite locations. To address the problem of a limited budget for lab equipment but a strong need for expanded labs to meet minimum course requirements, faculty contacted local industry to ask for help. The Mechanical Engineering Technology department includes a metallography lab as one of its core learning objectives in the freshman level Materials I course. The metallography lab consists of mounting, grinding, polishing and etching a metallographic specimen to identify features of the specimen’s microstructure. Unfortunately, lab equipment was not available for these tasks at one of the University’s satellite locations. However, through contacts with the school’s Industrial Advisory Board, a local company offered to host the laboratory and allow students to use its metallography facility. Conforma Clad, in New Albany, IN, applies very hard coatings to protect metal surfaces subject to wear and abrasion. For quality control purposes, they perform metallographic examinations of the applied coatings. Conforma Clad engineers demonstrated the preparation of the metallographic specimens and the analysis of their microstructure and then let students prepare and view their own specimens. This experiment showed the students the procedures and equipment needed to create pictures of a metal’s microstructure. By preparing the samples themselves, they gained an appreciation of the skill and technique required to successfully view the microstructure. This paper describes the collaboration the MET faculty used to add laboratory experiments without capital expenditures by connecting with local industry. Students benefited by gaining access to the operations and facilities of a local company as well as the knowledge gained by performing the metallography lab. The paper concludes with an evaluation of the experience and the improvements planned for the coming year.

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