ME221 - Structural Materials

ME221 - Structural Materials


Sushil Mishra




Autumn ‘20

Course Difficulty

Overall the course is moderate level, both in terms of the content and the evaluations that would happen. Around 50% of the course revolves around 3-4 major concepts like Iron-Carbon phase diagram, Heat treatment, Phase transformations, Dislocations and their movements etc. The next 30% is on some small concepts like Mechanical properties, Fracture & Fatigue, Strengthening & Softening etc. The remaining 20% of the topics are just for knowledge and information, and the professor won’t ask many questions from this section either, although they are all important applications of the previously covered topics. It includes Composites, Alloys, Ceramics etc. The major effort one needs to take is in the first section and once that is done, the rest of the course goes very smoothly.

Time Commitment Required

The course is a little involving, as there are multiple group assignments to be done, due every 2nd or 3rd week. Also these assignments are followed by a quiz in the coming week after the assignment deadline. It would need one to keep up with the lectures and the topics to be able to get through this continuous evaluation. But the advantage to this, as obvious, is that you won’t have much load for the end semester exam.

Grading Policy and Statistics

Grading was pretty generous, the absolute bars for the grades were quite less, total score of 80% and above was an AA. Most of this 80% can be easily acquired by the assignments and the quizzes. Similarly getting an AB or BB was also not that difficult.

Attendance Policy

Minimum 80% attendance required, Although the professor won’t penalise you until it’s very less like 20-30%. No DX grade.


There are no prerequisites for this course, It’s a core course for ME so everyone gets to register from ME at least. Some of the topics that will help you throughout the course would be Crystal structures, Crystal defects, Mechanical properties, Gibbs energy, Surface energy etc. All from high school chemistry.

Evaluation Scheme

35% - 5 quizzes 7% each (Best 5 out of 7, helps you a lot)
25% - 5 Group Assignments (Each will have a group viva, 1-2 questions)
EndSem 40%
“NO MIDSEM” (This can be a game changer)

Topics Covered in the Course

Material, its Classification & Properties, factors affecting Material Performance, Atomic & Molecular Bonding, Crystal structures, Lattice parameters, Crystallographic Directions & Planes, Anisotropy, Crystal Defects and Dislocations, Dislocation movements, Microstructures, Grains and Grain Structures, Softening and Hardening, Recrystallization, Mechanical Properties, Phase Diagrams, Heat Treatment & Phase Transformation, Fracture & Fatigue, Metal Alloys, Composites, Ceramics, and Thermomechanical Processing.

Teaching Style

Lectures would happen on MS Teams, the professor would share his screen and use PPTs to teach. He’ll also use the digital whiteboard to explain concepts and you can access those anytime on MS teams. All the other material and slides will also be available on MS teams. The professor is more concerned about the learning of the students, conducting exams or giving grades are his last priority. This makes the overall atmosphere of the course very positive. If you just follow what he teaches then, with a little bit of time revising PPTs would do the job. He will spend most of the time explaining stuff on the white board and often leave the “just for information” part for you to read in your free time. The professor’s teaching is quite engaging, and to keep you attentive in the class he would randomly ask anyone to unmute and answer some questions.


The group assignments are the most interesting part of the course, after the professor’s teaching. He will put up a list of topics and you have to choose one from it. The assignments are more like searching and learning about the real life applications of whatever you are learning in the class. Some of the topics are like “Explain the material selection process of a consumer good”, “Explain the reason behind the failure of a particular mechanical component” etc. The assignment grading is super chill and it’s a good way to increase your total score. The 10mins viva for the assignments would also be very chill, it’s more like a discussion with the professor over the topic.

Feedback on Exams

All the quizzes would be high scoring as they are all part-syllabus. A quiz’s syllabus would include only the material covered after the previous quiz. EndSem would be full syllabus and 80% application based. The time given to solve the questions in the EndSem would be more than enough but the quizzes would be a little tight. Proctoring for all the exams would be done using MS teams and Screen recording is required only for the EndSem and not the quizzes. Grading, as I said, would be lenient.

Course Highlights

It’s loaded with content, but with the continuous evaluation you won’t feel it. Learning in this course will be maximum and it’s highly likely that the professor would reduce the number of quizzes. For us, 5 out of 7 quizzes was turned to 4 out of 6, with ~9% weightage to each quiz.

Course Importance

This course is very important, the concepts learned here would be useful in many courses like solid mechanics, strength of materials etc. It is one of the basic courses and introduces you to the very vast field of materials and manufacturing under mechanical engineering.

Going Forward

This course can be a starting point for fields like material research, microstructures, improving manufacturing processes etc. Some of the courses that can be done to explore more on this are ME438, ME6101, ME787, ME616, ME765, etc.

References Used

An introduction to Material Science and Engineering - William D Callister, Jr. David G Rethwisch. (Wiley - 8th Edition)

Other Remarks

The overall view of the course depends a lot upon the professor for any course and Prof. Sushil Mishra is one of the most understanding professors in the ME department. He’ll not let it go tough on you for sure.

ME 221 Review By: Bishop Prakash