Year 4 Materials Engineering student, Jason Tam, develops smartphone application to enhance corrosion engineering learning
|Photo: Materials Engineering Year 4 student, Jason Tam (left), and Professor Steven J. Thorpe (right) with the new Corrosion app for iPhone — now available for download at iTunes store|
January 28, 2013
Professor Steven J. Thorpe teaches the Year 3 materials engineering course, MSE 315 — Environmental Degradation of Materials. The course primarily deals with electrochemical and corrosion behaviour of engineering materials in various applications, for which reference textbooks are called upon frequently for numerous terminologies and benchmarking data in electrochemical measurements.
“Today’s students are constantly plugged into their digital devices,” said Professor Thorpe, who initially searched iTunes for the existence of a related app only to find one of marginal quality that spelled ‘corrosion’ incorrectly. “So I thought to myself — why not bring the course content into smartphones and engage students in a medium they fully comprehend?”
So during the 2011 Winter Term, Professor Thorpe solicited his MSE 315 students’ interest in developing such an app. Jason Tam, a then Year 3 materials engineering student, responded to the call. Over the summer of 2011, Tam, who had no background in application development, taught himself to use Objective C — the programming language for Apple applications — and completed a working draft of the program in a mere four months, just before he had to fly out to Nunavut for his year-long Professional Experience Year (PEY) term at Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited. Subsequent fixes and tweaks were made voluntarily over Tam’s time off and his monthly 12 hour travel routine between Ontario and Nunavut.
So what does the app do? Well, it changes the way we access corrosion engineering references and content. The new Corrosion app, now available on iTunes, does the following:
- Glossary of terms: over 300 technical corrosion engineering terms
- Constants: such as the Boltzmann constant used regularly for calculating energy levels relating to electrochemical potentials — these were all formerly found in textbooks and / or provided on paper
- Reference electrodes & schematics: provides conversion tools and benchmark measurements for a range of materials and their electrochemical potentials
- Virtual corrosion experiments: provides benchmarking data for a range of materials in various electrochemical experiments specified by the user (e.g. O2 Concentration Cell experiment, as shown in image below)
|O2 Concentration Cell virtual experiment on|
the Corrosion App
“This new application changes the way we access reference information in the corrosion science and engineering field,” said Professor Steven Thorpe, who also happens to be the associate chair of graduate studies for the MSE Department. “I cannot thank Jason enough for his dedication and hard work in developing this digital resource. This is a remarkable step in moving one area of the materials science and engineering discipline forward into the 21st century.”
As a final year student, Jason has also decided to further give back to his Alma Mater beyond the development of this app. He has designated all app proceeds to the George B. Craig Scholarship — an in-course award named after a former U of T Materials Science & Engineering professor and designated for an academically high-performing upper-year Materials Engineering student at U of T with demonstrated financial need.
What’s next? An Android version of this app is under development to make this resource available to an even wider audience. Textbook and other traditional resources are still made available to students who do not have access to an iPhone.
Unfortunately, MSE 315 students are not permitted to use this app in their final exam.