Undergraduate

Plastics Electives and Course Descriptions


The Plastics Engineering Department offeres electives that have a technical focus, a materials focus, or a design focus. Please use the links below to see what courses satisfy the requirements for each.

Technical Electives

Materials Electives

Design Electives

Technical Electives

During the second semester of senior year, students are required to take a "technical" elective.   Students can select a course from the course list below.  Some courses are available only when there is sufficient demand.  As an alternative, students can take an upper level technical course offered by another College of Engineering Department if it is approved by the Plastics Engineering chairperson and the student's advisor.  Plastics Engineering students doing a Minor in Business Administration should take either 26.507, 26.540, 26.590 for their technical elective.

26.409  Senior Research in Plastics I  (3 credits)  Individual research projects in plastics chemistry, properties, processing, products and industry organization.  Students will review the existing literature, obtain materials and equipment, plan and carry out research programs and submit final reports for publication.  Prerequisite:  permission of instructor.

26.410  Senior Research in Plastics II (3 credits)  Continuation of 26.409.

26.491  Industrial Experience I (3 credits)  Undergraduate students who are on coop can obtain technical elective credit by working/documenting at least 500 hours of professional activity during an academic semester or during a summer internship.   Requires approval of the Plastics Engineering Coop Coordinator.

26.502 New Plastics Processing Techniques (3 credits) Critical examination of new plastics processing techniques appearing in the research literature and being commercialized in the plastics industry. 

26.504 Physical Properties of Polymers (3 credits) Polymers as linear viscoelastic materials. Creep, stress relaxation, superposition, dynamic mechanical behavior, electrical behavior, miscellaneous mechanical properties, optical properties, transport properties. 

26.505 Polymer Structure II (3 credits)  Continuation of 26.506. 

26.507 Plastics Industry Organization (3 credits)  Economics of producing plastic raw materials and converting them into end products, from research and development to plant construction, manufacturing and marketing. Market analysis of plastics production, processing, and consumer patterns; commercial development, sales, and technical service. 

26.509 Plastics Processing Theory I (3 credits)  Principles of rheology and continuum mechanics involved in the processing of plastics, and their applications in plastics process engineering including flows in standard geometrical and extrusion applications. 

25.510 Plastics Processing Theory II (3 credits)  A continuation of Theory I using the transport phenomena approach to analyze and describe plastics conversion processes, including roll processing blown film extrusion, injection molding, and mixing.   Prerequisite: 26.509

26.511 Polymer Blends and Multiphase Systems (3 credits)  Physical, mechanical and thermal properties, preparation, and testing of polymer blends, alloys, and multiphase systems. Thermodynamic theories and experimental determination of miscibility of polymer blends. Structure-property relationships for multiphase systems and interpenetrating networks. 

26.512 Porous Polymers (3 credits)  Preparation, structure, and properties of porous polymers.  Includes both practical systems in development and production and novel techniques of more fundamental interest and/or aimed at more specialized applications.  Existing and potential applications for these materials will also be discussed, and related back to their structure and properties.   

26.513 New Plastics Materials (3 credits)  Critical examination of the new plastics appearing in the research literature and being field-tested for commercialization in the plastics industry. 

26.521 Lean Plastics Manufacturing (3 credits)  Methods of analysis and operation of plastics manufacturing facilities.  Topics include:  performance measurement, inventory control, forecasting, production planning, scheduling, resource management, supply chains, various technologies for improved productivity.

26.523 Screw Design Principles (3 credits) Energy balances, energy efficiency for extrusion and injection molding, application of energy equation (conduction, convection, viscous dissipation), equations of state, melt conveying in simple and compound screws, screw scale up, plastication.  Prerequisites:  26.378, 92.231.

26.524 Process Analysis, Instrumentation, and Control (3 credits)  Industrial instruments for measurement and control of plastics processes. Design of experiments. Analysis of plastics forming operations. Dynamic testing techniques. Automatic plastics process control. Modeling and process simulation in extrusion and injection molding. Data acquisition systems. 

26.525 Processing of Fibers and Fibrous Structures (3 credits)  An introduction to systems utilized in the processing of fiber structures. These include drawing, winding, texturing, staple fiber production, blending, static control, dyeing and finishing. The effect of these mechanical, physical, and chemical processes on the resultant fiber and fibrous structure behavior. Fibrous structures considered as reinforcements for composite materials. 

26.526 Nanoscale Plastics Processing (3 credits)  An examination of processing methods for nanoscale polymer products. This course will include discussions of particle functionalization, mixing and forming of polymer nanocomposites, formation of three-dimensional micro and nanoscale polymer structures by embossing, nanoimprinting methods, injection molding, extrusion of multilayer films, electrospinning of nanofibers, and other pertinent topics as the field advances.   

26.527 Mechanics of Fibrous Structures* (3 credits)  Characteristics of fibers as affecting performance of conventional and non-conventional fibrous structures. Design considerations and mechanical behavior of twisted, knitted, woven, braided, and non-woven fibrous materials. 

26.529 Fiber Evaluation (3 credits)  An introduction to the evaluation of textile structures as reinforcements for composite materials. Fibers, yarns and fabrics of carbon, boron, silicon carbide and Kevlar are considered in terms of the effects of their properties on the processing and structural behavior of composite materials. 

26.531 Design of Automated Assembly Systems (3 credits)  Principles of feeding, sorting, and orienting components.  Hydraulic, pneumatic and electric actuators.  Emphasis on product design for automated assembly.  Also covers linear and rotary assembly systems, multi-functional process and timing diagrams, principles of programmable controllers.

26.532 Adhesives and Adhesion (3 credits)  Adhesive joining of engineering materials. Surface chemistry, theories of adhesion and cohesion, joint design, surface preparation, commercial adhesives, rheology, equipment, testing, service life, and reliability. 

26.533 Coatings Science and Technology I (3 credits) Polymers, pigments, solvents, and additives used in coatings. Methods of polymerization, formulation, application, and testing. Substrates and applications.

26.534 Coatings Science and Technology  II (3 credits)  Continuation of 26.533.

26.535 Rubber (3 credits)  Polymerization and compounding of the commercial elastomers. Properties and test methods. Leading applications and methods of processing. 

26.536 Rheology of Coatings (3 credits)  Rheology of polymer melts, solutions, latexes and pigment dispersions, and their application to coatings and adhesives. 

26.537 Engineering Properties of Plastics (3 credits)  Theoretical basis and practical significance of the mechanical, thermal, electrical, optical, and chemical properties of plastic materials. Importance of engineering properties in material development and selection and in product design.  

26.540 Commercial Development of Polymeric Systems (3 credits)  The concepts of industrial marketing will be reviewed for research, pricing strategies, and product planning for market segmentation, place (distribution)-promotional activities. Topics will include creating a demand, selling, and servicing base resins and additives. 

26.541 Computer Applications in Plastics (3 credits)  Problem solving in plastics engineering has been dramatically influenced by the computer and innovative software packages. This graduate course will focus on the application and development of software packages for engineering analyses of plastics processes. 

26.542 Business Law for Engineers (3 credits)  Business legal issues engineers encounter in practice, including contractual, products liability, and intellectual property issues.  Business torts relating to product design, manufacturing and inadequate warning defects.  Unreasonably dangerous products and strict liability.

26.545 Additives for Polymeric Materials (3 credits)  Additives incorporated into polymers to modify processing and end-use properties: reinforcements, plasticizers, stabilizers, flame retardants, colorants, biostats, blowing agents, anti-stats, impact modifiers, and processing aids. 

26.546 Mixing in Plastics Processing (3 credits)  Solids mixing, mixing in viscous fluids, admixing, concept and techniques of residence time distribution, continuous and batch processes, improvement of extrudate quality, scale-up and theory of similarity, dispersion and distributive mixing, mixing and heat transfer. 

26.547 Analytical Methods in Plastics Processing (3 credits)  Vector and tensor analysis, matrices and determinants, vector differential calculus, Laplace and Fourier transforms, power series, partial differential equations, introduction to numerical analysis. Use of the above techniques in plastics engineering calculations. 

26.548 Numerical Methods in Plastics Processing (3 credits)  Use of numerical methods in the solutions of problems concerning rheology, heat transfer, diffusion, and viscoelastic theory. Topics include solutions to ordinary differential equations, simultaneous linear equations, finite difference methods, finite element methods, plotting, linear regression, linear interpolation, curve fitting and optimization techniques.   

26.549 Design with Elastomers (3 credits)  This course covers the basics of thermoset and thermoplastic elastomer product design.  Topics include mechanical behavior, large deformation structural analysis, design for manufacturability, performance limitations, and end use applications for elastomers and assembly considerations.

26.550 Processing with Elastomers (3 credits)  This course covers the basics of elastomer processing.  Topics include mixing, rheology, extrusion, injection molding, compression molding and cure as it applies to elastomers.

26.551 Computer Aided Extrusion Die Design (3 credits)  This is a project oriented course that uses basic principles of fluid flow and CAE programs to design extruder dies.  A review of the extrusion process, die technology  and flow behavior of plastics is studied.  Prerequisite: Students should be proficient with a computer aided design program.  SolidWorks will be utilized.

26.552 Design of Polymer Processing Machinery (3 credits)  Hydraulics, machine logic, drives, pumps, motors, heating barrel and screw combinations, mechanical design. Hydraulic and electrical control circuits development. A semester project is required. 

26.553 Polymers in Medicine I (3 credits)  The concepts necessary to analyze the use of materials for implants and biomedical devices will be introduced. The role of surface and bulk material properties in the use of materials in soft tissue, blood and hard tissue will be examined. 

26.554 Polymers in Medicine II (3 credits)  Design and test methods for polymeric based medical devices will be examined for vascular grafts, artificial hearts, reconstructive surgery, orthopedic applications, controlled release devices and hybrid artificial organs.   Prerequisite: Polymers in Medicine I.

26.559 Elements of Packaging (3 credits)  Packaging methods, materials, and container designs. Analysis of container manufacturing methods for paper, plastics, cans, cardboard and their specific properties.  

26.566 Polymeric Material Systems Selection (3 credits)  This upper-level undergraduate/graduate bridge course investigates the selection processes to be followed in screening material candidates, and specifying a material of record. Emphasis is placed on prioritizing performance requirements, contrasting potential candidates, reviewing processing demands, and post-fabrication schemes. The course will be based on actual case studies.   Prerequisite: 26.201/202/301 or 26.543/544/565.

26.567 Dynamic Mechanical Properties of Polymers I (3 credits)  This graduate course will focus on the principles, experimental techniques, and investigative strategies for characterizing the viscoelastic behavior of polymers using dynamic mechanical techniques. Lectures and demonstrations will review the methodology for identifying the important rheological characteristics of polymeric solution, melts, and solids. Comparisons with other, more traditional practices will be established for quality of data, sensitivity to macromolecular architecture, and components of materials engineering.  

26.568 Dynamic Mechanical Properties of Polymers II (3 credits)  Continuation of 26.567.  

26.575 Biomaterials (3 credits) A survey of materials for applications in biomedical applications with an emphasis on a broader view of the field than studies limited to the properties of different metals, ceramics, plastics, elastomers, textiles, and composites employed as body implants. 

26.576 Advanced Mold Design (3 credits) A continuation of 26.376. Selected topics include new materials of mold construction, machining operations, developments in rapid tooling, methods of mold repair, new developments in hot runners, and special tooling. An advanced treatment will be presented on mold filling, heat transfer, and freeing mechanisms. 

26.579  Problems in Biomaterials Directed Studies (3 credits)  Selection of a current biomaterial problem of interest by the individual student, examination of pertinent literature to determine present knowledge in the area, formulation of an approach to resolve or clarify the issues involved, and (time permitting) work towards the solution of the selected problem.

26.585 Computer Aided Engineering and Design I (3 credits)  Design of plastic components and molds. Finite element programs to perform linear and nonlinear stress analysis. CAE programs for detailed simulation of various plastics engineering processes. 

26.586 Computer Aided Engineering and Design II (3 credits)   Continuation of 26.585.

26.588 Injection Molding (3-0)3 Process thermodynamics, energy balances, power requirements.  Heat transfer, cooling equations for amorphous and crystalline materials. Equations of state, pvT applications, shrinkage and ejection forces. Isothermal cavity filling, non-isothermal effects. Coupled runner/gate/cavity flow, flow balancing. Shear heating, frozen layer development. Residual stress. Injection/compression flow. Reciprocation effects in screw plastication. Review of specialized injection molding process variants.  An individual research project, term paper and presentation are required.

26.590 Survey of Intellectual Property (3 credits)  A review of patents, trademarks, copyrights and their application for protection of technology in the plastics industry. Other topics to be considered will be employee rights/non-competition agreements, foreign protection, and technology licensing. 

26.595 Thermoplastic Elastomers (3 credits)  A comprehensive review of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) technology. Physical and chemical nature of the various classes of TPE’s will be considered with emphasis on mechanical and rheological properties relevant to engineering applications.

26.596 Plastics, Elastomers, and Additives from Renewable Resources (3 credits)  This course will provide an introduction to plastics, elastomers, and additives obtained from renewable resources. Processes that involve conversion (chemically/enzymatically) of naturally occurring precursors (monomers) obtained from renewable resources to plastics and elastomers will be reviewed.  Brief discussion of processing, degradation, and recycling of these materials will also be included.  

26.598 Smart Polymers (3 credits)  A contemporary course detailing recent advances in polymeric materials that respond to an excitation by changing one or more of their physical properties. Specific topics include electrorheological and magnetorheological fluids, smart gels, positive thermal coefficient, electrospinning of fibers, shape memory alloys, piezoelectric polymers, and polymers for nonlinear optical applications. 

26.599 Rapid Prototyping (3 credits)  Survey of the rapidly expanding technology field of rapid prototyping. Technologies to be considered include stereolithography, laminated object manufacturing, selective laser sintering, fused deposition modeling, and solid ground curing.

Materials Electives  

During the first semester of the junior year, Plastics Engineering students in the class of 2009 and beyond are required to take a "materials" elective.   Students can select a course from the course list below.  Some courses are available only when there is sufficient demand.  Students can take an upper level design course offered by another College of Engineering Department (e.g. material science, composites….) if it is approved by the Plastics Engineering chairperson and the student's advisor.

26.511 Polymer Blends and Multiphase Systems (3-0)3 Physical, mechanical and thermal properties, preparation, and testing of polymer blends, alloys, and multiphase systems. Thermodynamic theories and experimental determination of miscibility of polymer blends. Structure-property relationships for multiphase systems and interpenetrating networks. 

26.512 Porous Polymers (3-0)3 Preparation, structure, and properties of porous polymers.  Includes both practical systems in development and production and novel techniques of more fundamental interest and / or aimed at more specialized applications.  Existing and potential applications for these materials will also be discussed, and related back to their structure and properties.

26.513 New Plastics Materials (3-0)3 Critical examination of the new plastics appearing in the research literature and being field-tested for commercialization in the plastics industry.

26.516 Composite Materials (3-0)3 Composite materials for structural applications. The behavior of constituent materials, i.e. metals, polymers and ceramics. The nature of short fiber composites is briefly examined. Methods of analyzing orthotropic lamina and laminated composites are studied. Three dimensionally reinforced composites are introducted and analyzed. Other topics include methods of fabrication, testing, joining, environmental effects and the effects of defects on the performance of composites. 

26.532 Adhesives and Adhesion (3-0)3 Adhesive joining of engineering materials. Surface chemistry, theories of adhesion and cohesion, joint design, surface preparation, commercial adhesives, rheology, equipment, testing, service life, and reliability. 

26.533 Coatings Science and Technology I (3-0)3 The concepts associated with the use of polymers, pigments, solvents, and additives for coatings. Methods of polymerization for polymers used as coatings. 

26.535 Rubber (3-0)3 Polymerization and compounding of the commercial elastomers. Properties and test methods. Leading applications and methods of processing. 

26.540 Commercial Development of Polymeric Systems (3-0)3 The concepts of industrial marketing will be reviewed for research, pricing strategies, and product planning for market segmentation, place (distribution)-promotional activities. Topics will include creating a demand, selling, and servicing base resins and additives. 

26.544 Advanced Plastics Materials (3-0)3 Descriptive course centering on the historical development of polymeric systems, their synthesis, structure, properties, and applications. Included will be a brief discussion on the typical additives employed to make plastics molding compounds. 

26.545 Additives for Polymeric Materials (3-0)3 Additives incorporated into polymers to modify processing and end-use properties: reinforcements, plasticizers, stabilizers, flame retardants, colorants, biostats, blowing agents, anti-stats, impact modifiers, and processing aids. 

26.553 Polymers in Medicine I (3-0)3 The concepts necessary to analyze the use of materials for implants and biomedical devices will be introduced. The role of surface and bulk material properties in the use of materials in soft tissue, blood and hard tissue will be examined. 

26.559 Elements of Packaging (3-0)3 Packaging methods, materials, and container designs. Analysis of container manufacturing methods for paper, plastics, cans, cardboard and their specific properties. 

26.565 Engineering Thermosetting Resins (3-0)3 Provides an in-depth review of the major families of engineering thermosetting resins:  phenolics, aminos, polyesters, epoxies, silicones, and various polyurethanes systems.  Emphasis is on the basic chemistry, inherent physical properties and processability, and the effect of polymer modifiers (additives) on the functional properties of molding compounds.  Typical market sectors served and related processing/fabrication technologies used in reinforced plastics/composites are reviewed. 

26.566 Polymeric Material Systems Selection (3-0)3 This upper-level undergraduate/graduate bridge course investigates the selection processes to be followed in screening material candidates, and specifying a material of record. Emphasis is placed on prioritizing performance requirements, contrasting potential candidates, reviewing processing demands, and post-fabrication schemes. The course will be based on actual case studies.  Prerequisite: 26.544.

26.575 Biomaterials (3-0)3 A survey of materials for applications in biomedical applications with an emphasis on a broader view of the field than studies limited to the properties of different metals, ceramics, plastics, elastomers, textiles, and composites employed as body implants. 

26.579 Problems in Biomaterials Directed Studies (3-0)3 Selection of a current biomaterial problem of interest by the individual student, examination of pertinent literature to determine present knowledge in the area, formulation of an approach to resolve or clarify the issues involved, and (time permitting) work towards the solution of the selected problem. 

26.595 Thermoplastic Elastomers (3-0)3 A comprehensive review of thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) technology. Physical and chemical nature of the various classes of TPE’s will be considered with emphasis on mechanical and rheological properties relevant to engineering applications. 

26.596 Plastics, Elastomers, and Additives from Renewable Resources (3 credits)  This course will provide an introduction to plastics, elastomers, and additives obtained from renewable resources. Processes that involve conversion (chemically/enzymatically) of naturally occurring precursors (monomers) obtained from renewable resources to plastics and elastomers will be reviewed.  Brief discussion of processing, degradation, and recycling of these materials will also be included. 

26.598 Smart Polymers (3-0)3 A contemporary course detailing recent advances in polymeric materials that respond to an excitation by changing one or more of their physical properties. Specific topics include electrorheological and magnetorheological fluids, smart gels, positive thermal coefficient, electrospinning of fibers, shape memory alloys, piezoelectric polymers, and polymers for nonlinear optical applications. 

Design Electives

During the first semester of senior year, students are required to take a "design" elective.   Students can select a course from the course list below.  Some courses are available only when there is sufficient demand.  Students can take an upper level design course offered by another College of Engineering Department if it is approved by the Plastics Engineering chairperson and the student's advisor.   Plastics Engineering students doing a Minor in Business Administration should take 26.537 for their design elective.

26.515 Lean Plastics Manufacturing (3 credits) Methods of analysis and operation of plastics manufacturing facilities.  Topics include:  performance measurement, inventory control, forecasting, production planning, scheduling, resource management, supply chains, various technologies for improved productivity.  Prerequisite: 26.378.

26.523 Screw Design Principles (3 credits)  Energy balances, energy efficiency for extrusion and injection molding, application of energy equation (conduction, convection, viscous dissipation), equations of state, melt conveying in simple and compound screws, screw scale up, plastication.  Prerequisites:  26.378, 92.231.

26.531 Design of Automated Assembly Systems (3 credits) Principles of feeding, sorting, and orienting components.  Hydraulic, pneumatic and electric actuators.  Emphasis on product design for automated assembly.  Also covers linear and rotary assembly systems, multi-functional process and timing diagrams, principles of programmable controllers.  Prerequisites: 26.211, 26.212, 26.218.

26.537 Business Law for Engineers (3 credits)  Business legal issues engineers encounter in practice, including contractual, products liability, and intellectual property issues.  Business torts relating to product design, manufacturing and inadequate warning defects.  Unreasonably dangerous products and strict liability.

26.541 Computer Applications in Plastics (3 credits) Problem solving in plastics engineering has been dramatically influenced by the computer and innovative software packages. This graduate course will focus on the application and development of software packages for engineering analyses of plastics processes.  Prerequisites:  26.314, 26.348, 26.378.

26.549 Design with Elastomers (3 credits) This course covers the basics of thermoset and thermoplastic elastomer product design.  Topics include mechanical behavior, large deformation structural analysis, design for manufacturability, performance limitations, and end use applications for elastomers and assembly considerations.  Prerequisites:  26.211, 26.218, 26.301.

26.551 Computer Aided Extrusion Die Design (3 credits) This is a project oriented course that uses basic principles of fluid flow and CAE programs to design extruder dies.  A review of the extrusion process, die technology  and flow behavior of plastics is studied.  Prerequisite: Students should be proficient with a computer aided design program.  SolidWorks will be utilized.  Prerequisites:  26.218, 26.378.

26.552 Design of Polymer Processing Machinery (3 credits)  Hydraulics, machine logic, drives, pumps, motors, heating barrel and screw combinations, mechanical design. Hydraulic and electrical control circuits development. A semester project is required.  Prerequisites:  26.211, 26.314, 26.348, 26.378.

26.576 Advanced Mold Design (3 credits)  A continuation of 26.376. Selected topics include new materials of mold construction, machining operations, developments in rapid tooling, methods of mold repair, new developments in hot runners, and special tooling. An advanced treatment will be presented on mold filling, heat transfer, and freeing mechanisms.  Prerequisites:  26.314, 26.348, 26.373.

26.585 Computer Aided Engineering and Design I (3 credits)  Design of plastic components and molds. Finite element programs to perform linear and nonlinear stress analysis. CAE programs for detailed simulation of various plastics engineering processes.   Prerequisites:  26.218, 26.314, 26.348, 26.378.

26.586 Computer Aided Engineering and Design II (3 credits)   Continuation of 26.585. Prerequisite:  26.585.