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DOI : 10.2240/azojomo0204

Materials Engineering Research and Education in the Philippines

Alberto V. Amorsolo, Jr.

 

Copyright AD-TECH; licensee AZoM.com Pty Ltd.

This is an AZo Open Access Rewards System (AZo-OARS) article distributed under the terms of the AZo–OARS http://www.azom.com/oars.asp which permits unrestricted use provided the original work is properly cited but is limited to non-commercial distribution and reproduction.

 

AZojomo (ISSN 1833-122X) Volume 2 April 2006

Topics Covered

Abstract

Keywords

Introduction

Materials Engineering Education

Materials Engineering Research

Summary

Acknowledgements

References

Contact Details

Abstract

A graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) was first established in the Philippines at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in 1993, mainly in response to the needs of the semiconductor and electronics industry which now accounts for 69% of the country’s exports.  The University of the Philippines is currently the only university in the country offering this program in the graduate level (M.S. and Ph.D.).  The Ph.D. MSE program has produced 4 graduates since its initial offering.  In 1999, the undergraduate program in Materials Engineering was also pioneered at the University of the Philippines, eventually producing the first batch of graduates in 2002.  Since its initial offering, Materials Engineering has seen a dramatic increase in enrollment and in fact there are more students taking this course now compared to the traditional course in Metallurgical Engineering.  Considering the multidisciplinary nature of the program, both the College of Engineering and the College of Science are jointly involved in the teaching of the graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering.  Key research facilities needed for high-level research in materials are shared in the two colleges at the University of the Philippines and major equipment for materials characterization and synthesis were acquired through the Department of Science and Technology-Engineering Science and Education Project (DOST-ESEP) with bulk of the funding coming from the World Bank.  In the graduate level, most of the students actually come from the semiconductor and electronics industry sector, as well as other local universities trying to develop their own program in materials engineering.  There is now an increasing active involvement of the private industry to further influence the curriculum and the quality of the program by offering assistance in terms of maintenance of facilities, scholarships, sharing of expertise, research funding, and collaborative projects in research involving students and faculty.  The government continues to provide its traditional support in the funding of major research projects in materials science and engineering through key agencies such as the Philippine Council on Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCASTRD-DOST).  The future of Materials Engineering research and education in the Philippines appears to be very bright at this point, especially with the prospects of more active collaboration in the ASEAN-Japan region.

Introduction

The study of materials is deemed to be very important for the advance of current technology considering that many technological breakthroughs in the past have usually been the outcome of the development of important materials.  History will tell us that progress in civilization has been associated with the rise in the production and utilization of certain materials such as bronze, iron, steel, and of course, silicon.  Even now, the term “nanotechnology” is already a major buzzword in the scientific community and its eventual maturation in the not so distant future is heralded to make available for our utilization materials with superior properties far exceeding our expectations.  The discipline known as Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) must therefore be an important field of study which any country should give high priority.  Expertise in materials will be very much needed for a country to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology.

This paper will present the status of Materials Engineering research and education in the Philippines in line with the objective of establishing a network for research and other types of collaboration activities with its Asian neighbors in the very important field of materials.  For meaningful partnerships to be achieved, it is important that one be informed of what potential partners have to offer in terms of expertise, experience and facilities so that collaboration activities can be dovetailed to the specific needs of the parties involved.

Materials Engineering Education

Prior to the establishment of formal MS and PhD program offerings in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus in 1993, certain courses were already being offered that provided fundamental education in materials, particularly in metals and ceramics.  For instance, B.S. Metallurgical Engineering started to be offered at the University of the Philippines Diliman campus as early as the 50s.  Later on, two other schools in the country would be offering the same degree, Mapua Institute of Technology (Mapua Tech) in Manila and Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSu-IIT) in Iligan City of southern Philippines.  The B.S. Ceramic Engineering program was also established later in MSU-IIT and Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Ilocos Norte province.

The metallurgical engineers and ceramic engineers were taught about the fundamental principles of materials science and engineering though their respective curricula focused only either in metals or ceramics.  For example, metallurgical engineering education familiarized the students with important principles about crystal structures, defects like dislocations, and heat treatment which other engineering graduates may not even be aware of.  The metallurgical and ceramic engineers could be considered then to be the most knowledgeable engineers in the country as far as materials, were concerned.  However, the curriculum did not develop adequacy in areas such as polymer science and engineering or electronic materials such as semiconductors, magnetic materials and superconductors.  Organic chemistry, critical to the study of polymeric materials, was for instance not even a required subject.

In the graduate level, there was also an established MS program in Metallurgical Engineering in UP Diliman.  There were two areas of focus: one in Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy and the other in Physical and Adaptive Metallurgy, with the latter actually leaning more to the Materials Science and Engineering aspect of the discipline.  Enrollment figures in both the undergraduate and graduate program were low compared to other engineering disciplines and the then U.P. Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering was the smallest Department in the College of Engineering.  Today, licensed metallurgical engineers in the country have a total number less than 600 engineers.  Traditionally, the employment opportunities up to the 1980s for metallurgical engineers were mostly in the big mining companies which were then abundant in the country.  However, in the 90s, the mining industry suffered a slump and an opportunity was instead created for metallurgical engineers to practice in the semiconductor and electronics industries of the Philippines.  At present, the semiconductor and electronics sector already accounts for 69% of the country’s exports and can actually be considered to be the major employer of graduates in both Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering in the country.

During the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, what spurred the creation of the graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering in the Philippines was the project known as DOST-ESEP, which stands for the Department of Science and Technology-Engineering and Science Education Project.  Prior to this, expertise in Materials Science and Engineering had been identified to be critical to the industrialization efforts of the country by the Science and Technology Coordinating Council of the Republic of the Philippines.  A program in Materials Science and Engineering was needed to support the efforts in other technology sectors such as energy, information, equipment and medical technologies.  The creation of the MSE program was then a key component of the Engineering and Science Education Project, with most of the funding coming from loans from the World Bank.

DOST-ESEP made possible acquisition of fundamental equipment for education and research in Materials Science and Engineering education.  This included for instance major materials characterization equipment such as a 200 kV transmission electron microscope, scanning electron microscope with wavelength dispersive system, x-ray diffractometer and thermal analyzers.  The ESEP equipment were concentrated in the three leading universities in the Philippines (University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University and De la Salle University).  These universities were to become the centers of education in engineering and science in the country and envisioned to provide graduate training to faculty from the other local schools and universities.  In line with the objective to set up doctorate programs in science and engineering in these identified centers of education, full foreign scholarships were also awarded to faculty members of the key colleges and institutes as early as 1992.  This was to ensure that the critical mass of experts be available to make the graduate programs viable.  Local full scholarships were also provided to faculty from other local universities and the doctorate students in the local PhD MSE program were given the opportunity to conduct their thesis in foreign universities under a sandwich program, prior to the delivery of critical MSE equipment in the country for research.

To further ensure successful implementation of the graduate program in Materials Science and Engineering, a Virtual Center in Materials Science and Engineering was created in UP Diliman.  This would allow sharing of laboratory facilities for research or education by the College of Science and College of Engineering.  Considering the multidisciplinary nature of Materials Science and Engineering, the graduate MSE program at UP Diliman campus was offered as a joint program offering of the College of Engineering and the College of Science.  The Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (DMMME) of the College of Engineering and the National Institute of Physic (NIP) of the College of Science were designated as the key department/institute to implement the MSE program.  Faculty from other departments or institutes who had the proper expertise to teach MSE courses could be tapped to serve as lecturers or thesis advisers.

In the present MSE graduate program in UP Diliman, students come from BS Engineering or BS Science graduates.  B.S. graduates of Metallurgical Engineering, Materials Engineering, Ceramic Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics and Communications Engineering, Industrial Engineering and Civil Engineering have enrolled in the program.  The BS Science graduates are usually graduates in Physics or Chemistry.  Undergraduate remedial courses on fundamental materials science courses are prescribed for those entering with no materials background.  The MS MSE students take the same core courses in MSE whether from engineering or science background.  Aside from 18 units of lecture courses under the MS MSE Thesis Option, six units of laboratory courses are required to be taken to develop their skills in experimental research in materials, especially if they have plans of pursuing the Ph.D MSE later.  The MS MSE Non-Thesis Option is available for those who are working full-time in the industry.  Only faculty members who are PhD holders are deemed qualified to teach in the graduate MSE program.  In a typical semester, there are about 12-14 full-time faculty members with PhD degrees actively involved in teaching graduate MSE subjects and/or serving as thesis advisers under the MS MSE program.

There are also students who are faculty members from other schools and they usually enter under scholarships from their sending institutions.  Though the UP Diliman campus is the only one that currently offers the MSE graduate program in the country, other academic institutions in the country have also plans to set up their own programs in materials in the not so distant future.  Taking the lead is Mapua Institute of Technology which has recently started offering its undergraduate program in Materials Science and Engineering.  They have replaced their traditional program in Metallurgical Engineering by something more oriented towards MSE in hope of increasing enrollment figures.

The enrollment statistics in the MSE graduate program at the College of Engineering alone as of academic year 2002-2003 in all year levels total to 72 for the MS MSE and 8 for the PhD MSE program.  This is a comparatively high figure compared to the other engineering graduate programs in UP.  This does not yet include enrollment figures in the MS MSE program at the College of Science which is comparatively much lower.  Every semester, not less than ten students are accepted into the program at the College of Engineering.  However, most of these students enter only on a part-time basis and take only one to two subjects per semester since they are usually working in industry.

In 1999, the UP Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering pioneered the BS Materials Engineering program.  This addressed certain deficiencies in the traditional BS Metallurgical Engineering program which did not provide adequate education to deal with a wider range of materials, especially those encountered in the semiconductor and electronics industry such as molding compounds, die-attach materials, semiconductors, ceramic substrates, and the like.  By removing the Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy part of the Metallurgical Engineering curriculum and replacing these with courses such as Electrical and Magnetic Materials, Polymer Materials, Ceramic Materials, Composite Materials, IC Packaging Technology, Failure Analysis and Materials Testing, etc., the BS Materials Engineering curriculum would now produce graduates who will be more suited to the needs of the semiconductor and electronics industry.

Unlike the graduate program in MSE which is a joint offering with the College of Science, the BS Materials Engineering program is solely under the DMMME.  There are a total of 13 faculty members, majority of which have either PhD or MS, involved in the teaching of Materials Engineering courses.

Many of the students enrolled in the MS MSE program are working students who are usually employed in the semiconductor and electronics industries.  There is a high demand now for materials expertise in industry especially in the area of failure analysis and new packaging materials.

In 1999, the program accepted a pilot batch of incoming third year engineering students who shifted from the other disciplines to this new program.  Majority of the students of this pilot section graduated in April, 2002 after three years of their acceptance in the program.  If we look at the enrollment figures in Table 1, the incoming freshmen for AY 2002-2003 have practically reached the set quota of 75 Materials Engineering freshmen students per year (or two sections per year).  Considering also the batch of students from first to third year level, there are now more Materials Engineering students compared to Metallurgical Engineering students.  The positive feedback from the earlier graduates has certainly played a role in enticing the high school graduates to take a career in Materials Engineering.

Table 1.  Student Population of the UP Dept. of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering (AY 2002-2003).

A. Undergraduate

 

Mining

MetE

MatE

1st year

17

33

71

2nd year

23

27

74

3rd year

3

24

47

4th year

17

39

27

5th year

23

81

44

B. Graduate (All year levels)

MS MetE

4

MS MSE

72

PhD MSE

8

Materials Engineering Research

Due to its highest concentration of faculty and students in materials, the University of the Philippines Diliman can be considered to be the center of Materials Engineering research in the Philippines.  The bulk of the research output consists of undergraduate and graduate thesis studies of students in Materials Science and Engineering.  There are also research projects undertaken by individual faculty but many of these projects will also involve the students.  The research covers a wide range of topics on all types of materials and the scope of the investigation is usually limited by the local availability of materials and equipment.

Funding for research in the academe may come from various sources.  For example, in the past, funds amounting to over 2 million pesos per year have been sourced by the UP MMME Department from the Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD) under the Department of Science and Technology, one of the primary research funding government agencies.  Faculty and graduate students doing their thesis in UP can also tap some funds from the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research and Development (OVCRD) amounting to 60,000 pesos for Ph.D. level and 30,000 pesos for M.S. level research.  The Center of Higher Education (CHED) also provides financial grants to universities with Center of Excellence (COE) or Center of Development (COD) status, part of which can be channeled for research or upgrade and repair of laboratory equipment.  The existing CHED grant to Centers of Excellence is 3 million pesos per year while for COD-Category 1, it is 1 million pesos per year.  Students can also get sponsorship of their studies from industry which could provide them needed materials, access to certain equipment not found in the university, or even some financial support.  This year, one of the major players in the semiconductor and electronics industry, Intel Technology Phils., Inc. has initiated a research collaboration involving one undergraduate Materials Engineering and five graduate MSE students at the UP College of Engineering.  There is also an upcoming project by the same company to support the rehabilitation and upgrade of the Transmission Electron Microscope facility at the UP College of Engineering to promote high-level research in materials in the country as well as improve the quality of the existing MSE program.  Assistance by foreign institutions in research undertakings had also been made available in the past.  An example is the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Exchange-Scientist Program (about one-month duration) which provides opportunity for the faculty to do research in a Japanese university.  The National Institute of Physics (NIP) has close linkage with some Japanese universities which have provided them with assistance in research undertakings involving liquid crystals or plasma deposition.

Research in materials is also being done outside the University of the Philippines in academic institutions such as MSU-IIT, MMSU, DLSU (Dept. of Physics, Dept. of Chemistry).  There are also government institutions mandated to do fundamental and applied research on certain materials such as the Metals Industry and Development Center (metals and alloys, coatings, heat treatment, foundry technology, corrosion), Industry Technology and Development Institute or ITDI (corrosion, ceramics, polymers), Philippine Nuclear Research Institute or PNRI (materials degradation, magnetic materials).  There is also some research on materials conducted in the private industry, but limited usually to the major industry players who have the required laboratory facilities.  Many of these studies may be confidential in nature and some results may not at all be presented in technical conferences.

At the University of the Philippines, topics for research by a Department or Institute in the area of materials will depend on whether it is within the expertise of the faculty, and on the existing facilities and availability of materials.  For instance at the MMME Department, focus areas will usually be in the category of metals and alloys (e.g. Cu-Sn shape memory alloy, precipitation hardening of manganese bronze), films and coatings (e.g.. thermal stability of titanium silicide films with nitride capping, polysilicon and silicon nitride film deposition by LPCVD), materials degradation (e.g. cyanate ester based die-attach material, extent of degradation in recycled polymers, corrosion), microstructure modification treatments (e.g., heat treatment, transformation toughening of zirconia-based ceramic), failure analysis, and materials issues in the semiconductor and electronics industries (e.g. intermetallic formation in lead-free solders, mechanisms of die cracking, thermomechanical behavior of flex substrates, and copper dendrite formation).  The Department is also developing expertise (e.g. patterning and layering studies) in the area of semiconductor device fabrication in line with developing future prototyping capability.  Research in nanotechnology is being attempted and in line with this, there is now an ongoing doctoral dissertation on polymer-clay nanocomposites.  Facilities housed under the MMME Department include equipment for materials characterization, thin film deposition, device fabrication and metals forming.

At the National Institute of Physics, research is being done on optoelectronic materials such as GaAs and InP, superconductors (Yt-, Bi- and Mg-based), liquid crystals, Erbium-doped glass, plasma deposition of titanium nitride, zirconium nitride and diamond-like-carbon (DLC) films.  This is made possible by the presence of advanced facilities for deposition as well as characterization.  The list of facilities includes Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE), Liquid-Phase Epitaxy (LPE), Plasma Deposition (Plasma Sputter-type, PECVD, and Sheet Plasma), Field Emission SEM-EDS, thin film X-ray diffractometer, and FTIR.

Output of research in Materials Science and Engineering can be disseminated by presenting them in local conferences or submitting them for publication in local or foreign journals.  Among the local conferences which accept technical papers in Materials Science and Engineering are those by the Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas (SPP) (held yearly), Society of Metallurgical Engineers of the Philippines (SMEP) (held once every two to three years), Microscopy Society of the Philippines (Microsphil) (held yearly) and the Association of Semiconductor and Electronics Manufacturing Engineers of the Philippines (ASEMEP) (held yearly).  Local journals where output in materials research may be published include the Philippine Engineering Journal, Science Diliman, and Philippine Journal of Science.

The seeds for a bright future in Materials Engineering education and research in the Philippines have been planted and the future of the program is promising considering the current high enrollment, high demand for graduates of the program, networking opportunities, and gradually increasing pool of MS and PhD holders in the country.  Since the local MS and PhD programs in MSE started in 1993, it has contributed four PhD graduates and 14 MS graduates from the UP College of Engineering alone.

Summary

Graduate and undergraduate education in Materials Science and Engineering is being offered in the Philippines and the University of the Philippines Diliman is the leading institution in this field in the country.  Statistics show a high enrollment in both the graduate and undergraduate programs in materials since they started.  There is also a high demand for expertise in materials in the local semiconductor and electronics industry.

Most of the research in Materials Engineering in the Philippines is carried out in academic institutions like UP.  Research is also being done at government institutions such as MIRDC, ITDI and PNRI, and by major players in the local semiconductor and electronics industry.

Considering the present high enrollment, high demand in industry for MSE graduates, more opportunities for collaboration between academe and industry, and networking opportunities among the universities in the Asian region, the future for Materials Engineering research and education in the Philippines is perceived to be promising.

Acknowledgements

This presentation was sponsored by the 21st Century COE Program of Nagaoka University of Technology for “The 1st Regional Workshop at Hanoi”.

References

1.       Department of Science and Technology (DOST) website: http://www.dost.gov.ph/

2.       Mapua Institute of Technology-School of Earth and Material Science and Engineering website: http://emse.mapua.edu.ph/

3.       MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology website: http://www.msuiit.edu.ph/

4.       National Institute of Physics website: http://www.nip.upd.edu.ph/

5.       U.P. Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering website:  http://www.upd.edu.ph/~mmme/

Contact Details

Alberto V. Amorsolo, Jr.

 

Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
College of Engineering, University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines

 

E-mail: alberto_jr.amorsolo@up.edu.ph

 

Published in print form in “Advances in Technology of Materialsand Materials Processing Journal, 5[2] (2004) 115-120”.

Date Added: Apr 18, 2006 | Updated: Jun 11, 2013
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