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2017-2018 Catalog 
2017-2018 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Metallurgical & Materials Engineering Website

Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

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Department Head: Dr. Courtney Young
  (406) 496-4158
  ELC 208A
Administrative Associate: Karen Holland
  (406) 496-4341
  ELC 208
Department Fax: (406) 496-4664
Department E-mail kholland@mtech.edu



As one of the oldest programs at Montana Tech, the Metallurgical & Materials Engineering program continues to fulfill the historical mission of The School of Mines and Engineering as well as the needs and interests of mineral- and metal-related industries while simultaneously addressing those of the materials industries in order to provide a broad and quality education with an appropriate blend of theory and practice so students can successfully and confidently enter into a career and contribute to the profession and society.  The Bachelor of Science degree in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.


The M&ME Department will attract and retain the highest quality engineering students in order to provide resource-based industries with minerals, metals and materials process engineers while maintaining the heritage of Montana Tech. The department will sustain coveted programs with broad, hands-on learning experiences, supported by industry, in order to research and provide solutions for the future needs of society. Graduates of the program will be contributing members of the community, have a passion for excellence, and be recognized among the world’s most versatile engineers.


Program educational objectives of M&ME are to produce graduates who achieve some of the following within five years of graduating with their B.S. Degree:

  1. Practice the M&ME profession as demonstrated by
    • Continued professional employment,
    • Job promotion, and/or
    • Expanded career responsibilities.
  2. Obtain professional registration
    • Professional Engineer (PE),
    • Qualified Professional (QP) and/or
    • Professional Certification.
  3. Complete an advanced degree in M&ME or a related field
    • Master of Science (MS) and/or
    • Doctorate (PhD or ScD).
  4. Continue professional development as demonstrated by
    • Society membership and participation,
    • Master’s in Business Administration (MBA),
    • Continuing education, and/or
    • Engineering related volunteerism.


Students graduating from the M&ME program at Montana Tech should attain:

  1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering,
  2. an ability to design and conduct experiments as well as analyze and interpret data,
  3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability and sustainability,
  4. an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams,
  5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems,
  6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility,
  7. an ability to communicate effectively,
  8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental and societal context,
  9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning,
  10. a knowledge of contemporary issues,
  11. an ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice,
  12. an ability to apply advanced science (such as chemistry, biology, and physics), computational techniques and engineering principles to metallurgical and materials systems,
  13. an ability to integrate the understanding of the scientific and engineering principles underlying the four major elements of the field: structure, properties, processing and performance related to metallurgical and materials systems, and
  14. an ability to apply and integrate knowledge from each of the above four major elements of the field using experimental, computational and statistical methods to solve metallurgical and materials problems including selection and design consistent with the program educational objectives.

To help satisfy these student outcomes, the curriculum has evolved to (1) train the student to understand a wide range of M&ME methods which apply to the five disciplines as well as related fields, (2) prepare the student to adapt to an ever-changing world and its demands for minerals, metals and materials, and (3) give the student practical, hands-on experiences with numerous laboratory courses and field trips. In this regard, it is highly recommended that the students gain employment appropriate to M&ME or related fields during all summer breaks and even the school year to help guide them in their career choices, pay for college expenses, and ultimately make them more marketable upon graduation.


These student outcomes and program educational objectives are constantly assessed through knowledge surveys, course evaluations, mid-student surveys, senior exit interviews, graduate/alumni surveys, student satisfaction surveys, advisory board feedback, and imbedded indicators such as specific homework and test questions. Assessment responses from students, alumni, and the advisory board are documented and evaluated periodically by the faculty in order to make changes to and thereby improve the quality of the program as needed. The M&ME faculty believe that the quality of the program is ultimately defined by the long-term success of its graduates. If these outcomes and educational objectives are met, both students and graduates will be well-prepared for a career and consequently will be successful. Thus, the assessment goal is to insure that the program is maintained and continuously improved so that students achieve the outcomes and graduates meet the educational objectives.


When U.S. President Grover Cleveland signed the Enabling Act of 1889, Montana became the 41st State of the Union. As part of this Act, a land grant of 100,000 acres was allotted for The Montana School of Mines (MSM). In 1893, The Montana Legislature established the Montana University System (MUS) and, in 1895, created The State School of Mines Commission to prepare and specify plans for its construction. Construction began in 1896 on what is currently Main Hall, and in 1900, the College enrolled its first students. Initially the MSM granted two degrees, one in Electrical Engineering and the other called an Engineer of Mines which had numerous Courses of Study allowing students to specialize in Mining, Chemistry and Metallurgy, and Geology. The inaugural graduating class commenced in 1903 and the first graduate to be placed was Louis Bender who accepted a smelter position at the Anaconda Reduction Works. However, it wasn’t until 1922 that the MSM began offering a separate Metallurgical Engineering degree that focused on mineral processing and extractive metallurgy. This focus remains intact today; however, in the early 1960’s, the program was broadened to involve materials engineering and thereby include physical metallurgy and materials processing, particularly ceramics. Although changes to the degree offerings have since been incurred to meet the changing  needs of industry, the program has retained this broad base. In 2000, the present name of Metallurgical & Materials Engineering (M&ME) was adopted. Undoubtedly, the program will continue to change but it will always honor its heritage thereby helping fulfill Montana Tech’s  mission. In this regard, it is interesting to note that the Anaconda Reduction Works is now home to world-famous “Old Works” Golf Course. Also, one of many fundraising accounts is named after Louis Bender, who coincidentally was an avid golfer! This account allows the M&ME Department to bring in industrial representatives for seminars and guest lectures. Other M&ME accounts in the Montana Tech Foundation also aid in student education including, but not limited to, scholarships, undergraduate research support, laboratory equipment acquisitions, and library book purchases, all in support of M&ME Student Excellence Program.


Metallurgical & Materials Engineering (M&ME) is an exceptionally broad field that encompasses five disciplines. With:

Mineral processing, the engineer takes advantage of differences in physical and/or chemical properties to develop, manage, and control processes for liberating, separating and concentrating valuable minerals from associated waste rock;

Extractive Metallurgy, the engineer produces and purifies metals from ores, concentrates and scrap (recycling) using hydrometallurgy (water chemistry), electrometallurgy (electrochemistry), and/or pyrometallurgy (thermal chemistry);

Physical Metallurgy, the engineer processes the metals into products by, for example, alloying, forging, casting, and powdering to control chemical, physical and mechanical properties such as corrosion resistance, strength and ductility;

Materials Processing, the engineer applies similar principles as the above to develop the best materials for applications involving, for example, ceramics, glasses, joining composites, and polymers as well as certain minerals and metals; and

Welding Metallurgy, the engineer is concerned with joining materials together, particularly metals, to produce efficient joints with minimum damage to the integrity of the materials being joined.

Together, these disciplines are nicknamed the chemical and process engineering of minerals, metals and materials. Courses in each discipline are offered and, in this manner, the program retains its “School of Mines” heritage but has evolved to include the five disciplines to keep pace with the changing needs of industry and society. This ultimately has increased the breadth of the program and allowed course contents and research efforts to include environmental remediation, sustainable industrial processing development, recycling, maintenance engineering, forensics, biomaterials, corrosion, nanotechnology, and aerospace materials development.


While a freshman and sophomore, the M&ME student is required to take a general education core of chemistry, physics, mathematics, social sciences, and humanities, along with computer applications to engineering design. Courses include M&ME Workshop in the first semester and Processing of Particulate Systems and Lab in the second semester. The former exposes the student to all disciplines through seminars and fieldtrips and simultaneously helps the student to learn how to succeed. The latter introduces the student to particulate systems predominantly focusing on mineral processing but also emphasizing the importance on “downstream” operations and is therefore a core course to the program. M&ME Safety and Health introduces the student to issues often encountered in the laboratory and industry. These safety and health issues are then discussed throughout the program along with ethics. Other introductory M&ME courses are taken, often in conjunction with laboratory exercises and demonstrations.

In mineral processing/extractive metallurgy, the basic educational emphasis is in mass balancing, thermodynamics, modeling, and unit operations in size reduction, classification, thickening, filtration, drying, flotation, gravity, electrostatic, magnetic, leaching, solution concentration, solution purification, smelting and refining. Extensive consideration is given to the economic and social impact of all these processes and the student is trained in methods and technologies that are environmentally friendly. In physical metallurgy, materials processing, and welding, the chemical, physical and mechanical properties of the various materials are introduced and related to bonding as well as crystal, molecular and grain structures. Unit operations that are used to control bonding and structures, and thereby properties,are covered in detail and include but are not limited to alloying, forging, extruding, casting, rolling, joining, heat treating, surface engineering, and powdering. Additional courses such as Transport Phenomena & Design, Mass Transfer & Chemical Kinetics, and Metallurgical & Materials Thermodynamics also help build the foundation to the program.

Having mastered these courses, the student will advance to the junior and senior level to learn more about diffusion and other mass transfer processes; high-temperature chemistry of liquid and solid alloys, oxide/silicate solutions (slags), sulfide solutions (mattes), fused salts,  cement, and metal-bearing vapors; binary and ternary phase diagrams; aqueous inorganic chemistry; heat-treating, casting, working and mechanical testing; elements of process design; and fundamentals of ceramic and polymeric materials. Basic scientific knowledge of analytical instrumentation, including Inductive-Coupled Plasma (ICP) Spectroscopy, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Ion Chromatography (IC) and Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-Ray with novel applications for Mineral Liberation Analysis (SEM/EDX/MLA) is gained through  Materials Characterization & Analysis. Environmental Degradation of Materials and Process Instrumentation and Control are examples of required courses with a relationship to each of the disciplines. During the junior and senior years, increasing emphasis is placed on engineering design. The program culminates with real-world design projects in the two-semester course M&ME Design.


Through careful selection of department and technical electives, seniors can emphasize their education in at least one of the five disciplines. Technical electives in mineral processing include energy resources processing, materials handling design, and primary & secondary resource (coal, tar sands, oil shale and U) processing, the latter being predominantly flotation and surface chemistry. Electives in extractive metallurgy cover topics such as precious metal processing (Au, Ag, Pt, Pd), remediation of hazardous/ toxic elements (As, Se, Th, Hg and Pb), aqueous recycling, thermodynamic stability calculations, flowsheet development and design, and iron and steel making. Materials-related courses include biomaterials, composite materials, electrical, optical and magnetic properties of materials, and nanoscale materials & technology. Physical metallurgy courses can be chosen from mechanical behavior of materials, failure analysis & design life, casting and solidification, and the metallurgy of ferrous welds.

It is important to note that many of these courese are cross-disciplinary; others include advanced thermodynamics, advanced pyrometellurgy, computer applications, thermodynamic modeling, and SEM/EDX.


Design courses are integrated throughout the curriculum. The design experience begins in the first semester of the freshman year with Introduction to Engineering Calculations and Problem Solving as well as M&ME Workshop in which students learn to solve and present engineering problems using various software and then builds in the next semester and particularly in the sophomore and junior years. Early on, the students are introduced to mineral processing and unit operations in Particulate Processing lectures and labs. In these courses, the student learns separation principles, conducts experiments, and utilizes data to size equipment, develop process flowsheets, and begins to perform economic analyses. Extractive metallurgy courses with similar design experiences include Transport Phenomena as well as Mass Transfer and Chemical Kinetics. Furthermore, in Materials Structures and Properties and Fundamentals of Materials, the student begins to learn that materials selection is often a compromise reached after juggling through the pros and cons of material properties. Principles are  demonstrated with hands-on experiences in two laboratory courses, Microstructural Interpretation and Materials and Physical Metallurgy Lab, which deal with microstructure analysis and the fundamentals of physical metallurgy and materials engineering. In the last year and a half, students expand upon the design experience by taking courses such as Processing of Elevated Temperature Systems, Flowsheet Development, Advanced Transport Phenomenon, and Environmental Degradation of Materials as well as possible technical electives in Materials Handling, Iron & Steel Making, Primary and Secondary Resources, Failure Analysis, Precious Metal Resources, and Weldments. Finally, the program culminates in the senior year with a real-world design project, M&ME Design I and II, in which all of the cumulative knowledge of general engineering fundamentals, metallurgical and materials engineering, computer applications, engineering economics, safety, communication skills, etc. are integrated.


Growth in the metallurgical and materials engineering disciplines and these related fields has been substantial and has accordingly increased the opportunities for graduates of the program. In this regard, graduate placement has been 100% for over two decades with starting salaries recently averaging approximately $65,000 and ranging between $55,000 and $75,000 in addition to significant signing bonuses and moving expenses.


“Empowering success through knowledge and experience”
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    Bachelor of ScienceNon-Degree

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