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 Economic & Environmental Issues in Materials Selec  posted by  member7_php   on 3/2/2009  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Kirchain, Randolph, 3.080 Economic , Fall 2005. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 07 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Economic & Environmental Issues in Materials Selection

Fall 2005

Image collage of road constuction, airplane, circuit board and car.
Economic and environmental performance affects the materials selection decisions for every type of engineered product. (Clockwise from top left: The Boston, MA Central Artery Project, courtesy of U.S. EPA; aircraft, courtesy of Adrian Pingstone; circuit board; courtesy of Angelo Leithold; hybrid automobile schematic, courtesy of U.S. EPA)

Course Highlights

This course features a selection of lecture notes and assignments.

Course Description

Choice of material has implications throughout the life-cycle of a product, influencing many aspects of economic and environmental performance. This course will provide a survey of methods for evaluating those implications. Lectures will cover topics in material choice concepts, fundamentals of engineering economics, manufacturing economics modeling methods, and life-cycle environmental evaluation.

Technical Requirements

Special software is required to use some of the files in this course: .xls.



3.012, 3.014, 3.022, 3.024, or permission of instructor.

Course Readings

Because the course covers a broad range of topics, there is no single textbook. However, I would recommend that students purchase the following text. It provides some coverage of the engineering economics topic, provides useful information on the general issues covered in class, and is very affordable:

 de Neufville, R. Applied Systems Analysis: Engineering Planning and Technology Management. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 1989. ISBN: 9780070163737.

Class readings and homework problems will be assigned from the following books:

 Sullivan, W., E. Wicks, and J. Luxhoj. Engineering Economy. 12th ed. East Rutherford, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2002. ISBN: 9780130673381.

 Ashby, M. F. Materials Selection in Mechanical Design. 3rd ed. San Diego, CA: Elsevier, 2005. ISBN: 9780750661683.

 Bauman, H., and A. Tillman. Hitch Hiker's Guide To LCA: An Orientation in Life Cycle Assessment Methodology and Application. Lund, Sweden: Studentlitteratur AB, 2004. ISBN: 9789144023649.

Students will also be expected to consult the course lecture slides and other readings assigned during the term.

Course Software

The course projects and many of the homework assignments rely heavily on the use of spread-sheet tools.

The instructors are most familiar with Microsoft® Excel and Lotus® 123, and will provide support for running exercises with this software. However, students can use any package that can run the models, with the understanding that support will be limited if the product is unfamiliar to the instructors.

All software for the course will be provided in DOS/Wintel format, but students can process assignments on any computer system. Note that the Microsoft® Excel materials are readable across platforms.


Grades will be based on various assignments throughout the term. Their approximate weights are:

Problem Sets 20%
Mid-semester Quiz 1 - Engineering Economy 15%
Mid-semester Quiz 2 - Material Selection and Cost Modeling 15%
Unit Projects
Engineering Economy 10%
Materials Selection 10%
Cost Modeling 15%
LCA (Integrative) 15%

The final grade will be modulated by an appreciation of the participant's progress throughout the semester, giving extra weight to those that finish strongly and demonstrate that they have mastered the material, in the end.

Course Policies


Students are expected to complete all assignments on time. Unexcused late assignments will be marked down. Reasonable excuses (sickness, unavoidable professional absences, family emergencies, etc.) will of course be accepted when presented near the event.

Work in Teams

Students will likely work in teams for the unit projects. Indeed, we encourage this collaboration because it can lead to more interesting results. We require each student to turn in individually written interpretations of the common analysis.

Academic Honesty

To avoid any potential confusion that might result from different expectations in other courses or establishments, please note the standards that apply in this subject:

  • Anyone found cheating during the in-class exam will receive a zero for the exercise.
  • Assignments turned in for grading are to be done individually, although it is expected that students will discuss the issues involved in problem sets and often learn best collectively. In practice this means that students may lead each other to the proper understanding of the material, and collaborate on setting up computer runs, but should ultimately prepare reports for each assignment individually, in their own format and words. Demonstrated evidence of copying (exactly the same presentations, same wording of sentences, etc.) will result in zeros for each paper with this evidence.


    1 Introduction  
    Engineering Economics
    2 Introduction, Time Value of Money, Single Payment Discounting  
    3 Value, Multi-payment Discounting, Non-uniform Cash Flows  
    4 Effective Interest Rates

    Evaluating Alternatives, MARR, PW, AW, IRR
    Homework EE1 due
    5 Uncertainty  
    6 Comparing Alternatives  
    7 Dealing with Changing Prices  
    8 Combining Concepts Homework EE2 due
    9 Presentations and Review EE project due
    10 Exam 1 Homework EE3 due
    Materials Selection
    11 Concepts of Materials Indices, Software Introduction (Guest lecturer: Jeremy Gregory)  
    12 Material and Shape Selection (Guest lecturer: Jeremy Gregory)  
    13 Process Selection, In-class Examples (Guest lecturer: Jeremy Gregory) Homework MS1 due
    14 Presentations and Review MS project due
    Cost Modeling
    15 Using Cost Models: Concepts and Principles  
    16 Tackling Variable Costs  
    17 Modeling Fixed Costs  
    18 Presentations and Review Homework CM1 due

    CM project due
    19 Exam 2  
    LCA (Life Cycle Assessment)
    20 Introduction: What is the Cost of Materials Usage?  
    21 An Overview of Life Cycle Assessment  
    22 Analysis Goal and Scope; Inventory Methods Homework LC1 due
    23 Impact Assessment  
    24 Presentations and Wrap-up LCA project due   Tell A Friend