This class was tough.
Taking an introduction to materials science course was a requirement for me, but I had the choice of taking Mat_Sci 301 or 201. The difference between the two courses is that there's a lab for 301, which is why many people turn away from taking it. The lab sessions, which only meet once a week, were not at all difficult. We only had to fill out worksheets every week, and we had a full week to work on them. The labs really helped me get an intuitive grasp on the material, which is why I would recommend taking 301 over 201. The material was tough. A lot of people gripe that Professor Joester is not a good instructor, but I didn't find that to be the case. It's just really difficult material, especially for people who had no background in materials science. One can say that the lectures are really boring because the material is difficult to grasp, initially. For me, anyway, because I was a freshman ChemE major taking this class in a sea of sophomore and junior MatSci majors. Despite my inexperience with the material, I did well in the class because I developed an intuitive grasp on the material, thanks to the labs and my habit of voraciously reading the textbook. DO READ THE TEXTBOOK, even though the instructor may not give you reading assignments. It really, really helps. Exams are time-intensive. Professor Joester likes to write long exams because he loves making up problems. Many students submit incomplete exams, and that's okay. What I think professors try to do when they write super long exams is give you a place to turn when you approach a problem you don't know how to solve. My final exam for this class was 23 pages long, and all of the problems had parts (a, b, c, etc.), which built off of the previous parts. Professor Joester is generous with partial credit, and despite how bored you may feel in lecture, he is enthusiastic about the class (which is evident from his extravagant exam problems).
The highlights? Really lengthy exams because Professor Joester loves writing problems, difficult homework problem sets, two midterms and a final, and an end-of-quarter lab group presentation. For me, it was a great introduction to the field of materials science. I hadn't known what it was until I took 301. I'm glad it was a requirement for me. It is a growing field, and the class almost made me switch majors to MatSci. To me, this class was a solid-state physical chemistry course. In chemistry classes, you're not really focused on things like tensile strength of metals, crystal structures of alloys, or crazy phase diagrams. You realize the importance of choosing the appropriate materials (particularly metals) in designing things like the body of a car or frame of a roller coaster. It is a really engineer-y course, with plenty of opportunities to discuss/explore practical applications of the lecture material. Really awesome-yet-challenging course!
Hours per week:
Advice for students:
1) Read the textbook. Despite not having structured reading assignments, reading the textbook does more good for you on exams than just lectures alone. 2) Don't fret about the insanely long exams. You might not finish them, and that's okay. There will be a lot of people who finish the exam and rub it in your face, and that's okay too. Do what you can to show the professor that you know how to approach the material, even if you don't have time to plug in the numbers and get a numerical solution. 3) Take it because it's a new field and pretty interesting. Solid state physical chemistry is pretty underrated in your typical college STEM curriculum. 4) Take it with the lab, because seeing the phenomenon firsthand will give you an intuitive grasp of the lecture material. And it's only another worksheet to do every week. No written lab reports.