In the ATEP Materials and Manufacturing Technology Simulations the learner experiences an engineering challenge regarding steel and how its properties are changed by the use of heat treatment - where the learner selects the range of carbon added to the alloy and the level of tempering applied.

Student learning is measured through assessments built in to each of the phases of the simulation.

Statement of the Problem

Students will be faced with the a third world challenge of assisting an engineering manufacturer to identify the alloy to be used to make scalpels, and to specify the heat treatment processes used prior to final finishing of the scalpel.  They will learn about carbon alloys, and heat treatment processes, and then select and test various alloy grades, and various heat treatment temperatures, as they move towards the final selection of the alloy they will specify.  The final selection will then be “tested” in the simulation and they will be informed if their alloy was “accepted” by the surgeons.

Challenge Statement

“Hello, I’m Dr. Colleen Thompson and I’m working at the Eastern Zanzi Hospital in Kyalami.  I have a problem and I hope this message gets to someone who can help.

We do the best we can here with limited resources.  Because of the political turmoil and poverty it is difficult to get some things we need at our hospital.  We’re lucky if we can get the medicine we need and we struggle to get some supplies.  One item that is especially difficult to get is scalpels.  Although I keep requesting them and they are shipped, they seem to be one of the items that doesn’t make it through the shipments, especially with the skirmishes we have to the west recently.

I have been sterilizing and re-using scalpels, which is OK; but they do eventually become dull and need to be discarded.  We can’t sharpen them properly.

I have even been in touch with a local metal fabricator.  His name is Samuel Tshekonyane and he runs a little metal shop.  He can repair and make all kinds of things and work with metal very well.  He’s very resourceful.  When I was in a pinch I asked him to make some scalpels for me.  He copied some I had and they were OK; but they lost their edge fairly quickly.  He said he can harden them, so he made more that kept their edge, but they were brittle.  They get nicks in the blade when we sterilize them with other tools.  And a couple of times a blade has snapped during surgery – This is very bad!

Sam tells me that he can try using different metals and he explained something about tempering to get the right combination of keeping a good edge without chipping or breaking.  He said he can try different combinations and we can narrow down what works best.  But I don’t have time to try out all these different combinations!  And this is not good for my patients!

He says if someone could do some physical tests on metal samples he can determine the right combination of metal and tempering.  Then he could make a supply of scalpels for our hospital.  And this would be the best solution, to be locally sustainable.

I hope you have some testing equipment for metal samples and I hope you have the time to help us.  It will make such a big difference to the patients here."

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Instructional Design

Learning Goals

  • Experience what it is like to work in manufacturing.
  • Use technology to solve problems.
  • Apply knowledge gained in the course content.
  • To think through and better understand items in the course content.
  • Allow a combination of reasoning and trial-and-error to achieve a goal.
  • Use reasoning skills.
  • Engage the course content at a deeper level.

Learning Objectives

Understand defining characteristics of Engineering:
Usually, there is not a solution that is the best of all the features.
Usually, to make one feature better, it comes at the expense of another feature.
Engineering is the process of:  Identifying the variables; Evaluating the relationships; Defining the importance of each variable for that application; Selecting the combination that provides the optimum combination of features (for that application).

Organize data:
Clearly understand the cause and effect relationships:  Both the materials and the process affect the properties of the final product.
Visualize these relationships.
Keep track of two independent variables and their effects on the final product.
Use reasoning skills to adjust the independent variables.
Run a test, examine results, run the test again.

Understand defining characteristics of materials:
The term “processing” means transforming basic (raw) materials into industrial materials, and then into finished products.
One way of processing materials is to affect the atomic structure of a material. The change is called structure change.
Controlling the heating and cooling temperatures and rates determines the atomic structure of a material.
Three processes that affect the material’s structure are hardening, tempering, and annealing.
Hardening steel requires heating it to a high temperature and then cooling it rapidly. Through hardening, a material’s internal structure is made physically harder.
Tempering can preserve the material’s toughness and reduce the brittleness. Tempering involves heating hardened steel to a temperature of between 420° to 1100° F.



Phase 1 = Complete Prerequisite Lesson
Phase 2 = Introduction
Phase 3 = Select Alloy
Phase 4 = Run Process (heating/cooling)
Phase 5 = Conduct Testing, Grade the test result, See lattice models in attempt slots, see test grades on graph
Phase 6 = Submit to QA

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