The Merton C. Flemings Materials Processing Laboratory @ MIT is a dynamic environment where students expand their applied material knowledge through hands-on coursework. The metalworking facilities, including the forge and foundry, date back to MIT's early years when nearly half the students studied Geology and Mining, which included metallurgy. Students and instructors, often deeply immersed in our high-tech world, treasure the tactile experience of melting, annealing, cooling, hammering, and bending. Students learn the basics of materials processing through classic techniques like investment casting while simultaneously discovering how new technologies like 3D printing can be integrated into a traditional process.
The making of pieces — and even mistakes — offers an educational experience beyond textbooks. “It clicks into a creative and design impulse that nothing around here — not problem sets in physics nor chemistry — satisfies,” says Sam Allen (SM ’71, PhD ’75), POSCO Professor Emeritus of Physical Metallurgy.
The renovation of the foundry and forge continues DMSE’s mission of modernizing its teaching laboratories. Since 2000, we have systematically renovated them with new systems and equipment. We believe that these spaces are essential to educating tomorrow's materials engineers.
The The Merton C. Flemings Materials Processing Laboratory serves as an important laboratory component for DMSE classes such as 3.014, 3.042, 3.094, 3.095, 3.A03 and 3.A04. Taught by dedicated Metal Heads, additional studio-based classes include Intro to Blacksmithing, Enameling, Intro to Casting, Intro to Jewelry, Intro to Metal Sculpture and Intro to Welding.
A list of available equipment can be found here.
Above: With the guidance of Lab Director and Senior Lecturer Mike Tarkanian, students forge steel in the first-year seminar Modern Blacksmithing and Physical Metallurgy 3.A04. Left: 3.S06 Casting a Tradition students break open their investment molds revealing cast bronze sculptures inside.
Background Image: Back Scatter Electron SEM of powder processed dual phase W alloy. The contrast of equiaxed W grains is visible due to electron channeling effects. Image courtesy of Zachary Cordero.