TECS Provides Students With Many Options
ATI Special Report
Of the 77 1997-98 bachelor’s of science graduates, 34 (44 percent) graduated with honors. Demand for these graduates is high, as indicated by the greater than 90-percent placement rate at the time of graduation.
It offers three undergraduate degree programs: Textile Chemistry, Textile Engineering and Textile Materials Science. The focus for all three programs is that the students receive a strong fundamental science and engineering education, to which the technical textile education is added.
Hands-on research and development allows students
to gain insight into the professional world of textiles.
Textile chemistry students may choose to emphasize polymer chemistry, three different options in dyeing and finishing, or a general textile chemistry option that is certified by the American Chemical Society.
“Our textile chemistry program is by far the largest in the United States; it may be the largest in the free world,” said Keith Beck, professor and head of textile engineering, chemistry and science department. “We supply the majority of the people for the wet processing side of the industry.”
In the textile engineering program, the focus is on machine design and process improvement.
“One of the unique features of the engineering program is that it is one of only two Accrediting Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredited programs in the United States,” Beck said.
Georgia Tech was the first textile engineering program to be ABET accredited and Auburn University’s program is currently under consideration for accreditation.
The Textile Materials Science program focuses on product development.
Capstone courses in all three programs prepare students to be immediately productive when they enter the workforce.
“Our capstone courses are senior-year courses that integrate the concepts from all of the major courses in a very realistic, industrial setting,” Beck said.
For Textile Chemistry students, these courses involve actual wet processing or polymer processing in a pilot plant. Textile engineers go through a two-semester course, where they design a solution to an industrial problem and build it.
Textile Materials Science students design a new textile product to solve a particular problem or meet a particular need.
This fall, in an attempt to integrate students from the five College of Textiles bachelor’s of science degree programs and to increase student awareness to the rapidly changing face of the global textile industry, an experimental course was created.
Taught by Dr. Joel Williams, a recently retired industry executive, this class divided students into teams, each containing a chemist, an engineer, a textile materials scientist, a technologist and a management student.
Each team was asked to prepare a plan to put a sheeting plant in either the United States or in a country of their choice. Once their plans — including a plant layout for taking fibers to finished sheets — were complete, the class determined the best location for the plant.
Their final exercise was a presentation of each case and their final recommendations to a corporate board of review (the dean, department head, and an associate dean). As a result of this experience the students learned the benefit of teamwork and discovered that large-scale decisions, such as plant locations, require significant outside-of-the-classroom information.
“The course was certainly a success,” Beck said. “We think that there are things that we can take from this course and either integrate into our current curricula or develop a stand-alone course. Developing a three-hour, stand-alone is difficult because we would have to integrate in into the curricula which is already very tight hour-wise.”
Graduate degree programs available to students in the TECS department include master’s of science degrees in Textile Chemistry and Textile Engineering; master’s of textiles; and Ph.D. degrees in fiber and polymer science or textile technology management.
In addition to these programs, a five-year bachlor’s of science, textile engineering or master’s of science in management and a five-year bachelor’s of science or master’s of science in textile chemistry are available for exceptional students.
Major research projects are funded by the National Textile Center, the Army Research Office, the Environmental Protection Agency, and many industrial contracts. In 1997-98 the TECS faculty was awarded $3.32 million in research funding, 54 percent of which was industry-sponsored.
In the same period, the TECS faculty and their graduate students generated a total of 48 separate publications in scientific and professional journals, made 41 presentations to national meetings, 27 presentations at international meetings, were issued four patents and had four patents allowed.
Specialized facilities and capabilities in the department include the Thermal Protection and Clothing Comfort Center, high-speed melt extrusion, a supercritical fluid dyeing machine, and a real-time dyebath monitoring and control laboratory.