The possibility of plastic and composite failure should be a constant concern for design engineers, many of whom have not been taught about this possibility and are therefore far less familiar with this consideration than is desirable. The annual costs of polymer and composite failure due to environmental factors have not been quantified in the same way as the costs of corrosion in metals, but they are certainly significant. As with metallic corrosion, appropriate education of materials engineers and other kinds of engineers in the degradation of plastics and composites must become a tool for dealing with such degradation.
This report assesses the state of corrosion engineering education in the United States and makes a series of recommendations for improving the situation. Chapter 2 summarizes the committee’s assessments at the undergraduate and graduate levels and looks at what training and on-the-job education are being offered by industry and government. Chapter 3 looks at the impact of the current status of corrosion engineering education on government and industry. It examines whether meeting government and industry needs demands new approaches in corrosion engineering education. For instance, DOD takes an aggressive stance against corrosion, which directly affects its readiness, but it is unclear whether the nation is producing engineering practitioners who can implement the corrosion strategies of DOD and other national entities. The challenges industry faces with regard to corrosion and the scarcity of professional staff knowledgeable about corrosion make for a difficult situation, and the methods used to cope will be described. Industry challenges include the long-term maintenance and safety of structures, pipelines, and highways. The committee draws conclusions and makes recommendations on the direction the United States should follow as it seeks to reinvent its system for educating the engineering workforce in corrosion engineering education.