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Chapter 7 OPPORTUNITIES IN EDUCATION The issue addressed in this chapter is-how effective the university community in the United States is in providing education and training in electrochemical science and engineering for the personnel needed in this field. CURRENT STATUS University departments of chemistry, chemical engineering, and materials science and engineering are the principal sources of courses and research in electrochemical phenomena. Most of the chemistry and chemical engineering departments offer no formal instruction or research in corrosion. Fewer than 20 percent of the chemical engineering departments provide training in electrochemical syntheses and energy conversion, either through course work or research. Few chemical engineering textbooks and curricula offer electrochemical examples in the core courses such as material and energy balances, separation processes, transport phenomena, or reactor engineering. In addition, over the past 10 to 20 years there has been a gradual disappearance of electrochemical coverage in most physical chemistry courses. Exposure of chemical engineering students to the general field of inorganic chemistry has become increasingly weak. Topics such as electrolytes and galvanic cells have been relegated to cursory treatment in freshman chemistry. Therefore, most undergraduate students are ill-prepared in inorganic electrochemistry, including chemistry relevant to corrosion and to virtually all electrosynthesis and energy-conversion processes and devices. Advanced presentation of these topics and others, such as the nature of ionic conductors, electrified surfaces, or double layers, occurs almost solely in conjunction with thesis research. Most university efforts on electrochemical corrosion are located in materials and metallurgy departments. As with the situation in chemical engineering, only a small number have formal programs in this area. In addition, curricula in materials science and engineering offer little or no exposure to organic chemistry, an essential element in the under- standing of corrosion inhibitors and bacterial corrosion. 141
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142 The interdisciplinary nature of electrochemical phenomena involves aspects of chemistry, physics, and materials. Substantive collaboration is often required, for example, in the study of electrode reactions, where expertise in surface structure and mass transport needs to be effectively coupled with that in electrochemistry. Only a few univer- sities have been successful in establishing major multidisciplinary research programs. Reasons for this may include (a) the emphasis on small, individual research; (b) the difficulty of engaging in collabo- rative research at universities across departmental boundaries; and (c) the high cost of facilities needed to provide adequate experimental capabilities. FUTURE DIRECTIONS The federal government has recently placed emphasis on research bridging different disciplines and technologies and on linking university research with efforts at industrial and government laboratories (1~. This emphasis presents an opportunity for universities to develop collabo- rative research programs. The electrochemical field needs such an approach and, indeed, could serve as a vehicle to develop it for other broad fields. Such an approach would require joint support from the universities as well as from government and industry in the following areas: · Faculty: There are too few faculty sufficiently familiar with electrochemical technology and the underlying fundamentals to offer appropriate courses. Therefore, the ability to offer courses will require improving faculty expertise over a period of time. A reasonable goal is to double the number of faculty who are cognizant and capable of teaching electrochemical science and engineering. · Faculty support: A summer "travel grant" program is vital to encourage young faculty to visit research and development laboratories with major capabilities in electrochemistry, electrochemical engineering, or corrosion. The goal of this program would be to enhance the use of new techniques and research methods. Such a program would foster improved communication and collaboration between government and academic efforts. Undergraduate coursework: Usable information needs to be developed for incorporation into existing courses, textbooks, and reference handbooks in chemistry, physics, chemical engineering, and materials, as well as new courses on electrochemical science and engineering. The broad scope of the electrochemical field must be made clear in such works. For example, the thermodynamic and kinetic principles governing electrode reactions relevant in electrowinning,
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143 fuel cells, and photogalvanic cells also apply to a broad range of materials degradation phenomena. The mathematical description of charge and potential distribution at electrode-electrolyte interfaces is relevant not only to the description of the space charge region in electrified solution-electrode interfaces but also at semiconductor interfaces. Progress in this area could also be enhanced by organizing special workshops dedicated to the development of lectures and problems suitable for incorporation in standard chemical engineering and materials science and engineering courses (e.g., thermodynamics, reaction engineering, heat and mass transfer, plant design) or into certain standard chemistry classes (such as organic and inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, and solid-state physics). Particularly useful additions could be made with respect to examples and fundamental principles in the area of corrosion, electrosynthesis, and energy conversion and storage. Most scientific and technological phenomena occur in heterogeneous systems. Chemistry education, unfortunately, tends to have an over- whelming emphasis on homogeneous reactions, thereby making it difficult for students to deal later with heterogeneous systems. It would be in the best interest of electrochemistry (as well as other fields of surface chemistry and interracial phenomena) to encourage an increase in the degree to which heterogeneous processes are covered in chemistry and physics courses. · Collaborative research in electrochemistry: There are a few universities with faculty already oriented toward electrochemistry. These existing groups should take the lead in developing collaborative research programs with both industrial and government support. Federal grants should have incentives for encouraging matching industrial funds to promote mutual interests and to assist the transition of basic research results into the commercial sector. REFERENCE 1. Keyworth, G. A. An administration perspective of federal science policy. The Bridge, National Academy of Engineering, 16~1), Spring 1986.
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