Application of Life Cycle Analysis with Systems in an Introductory Materials Course

Document Type


Department or Administrative Unit

Engineering Technologies, Safety, and Construction

Publication Date



Application of materials Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) to structures and systems addresses both course outcomes, such as ABET 9a, 3i, 3j, and our program objectives. This effort is directed at improving pedagogy in an introductory materials course to meet the above goals, and 3j (societal and global issues) specifically.

The field of LCA is quite mature and has typically been presented in introductory materials courses. A typical approach to LCA targets a product or part that features a single material. LCA is then applied to this material through its lifetime.

A new approach was created to apply LCA in our introductory course. It was observed that students needed guidance to connect a system failure, with a material failure. Here students apply safety and performance ratings to a structure or system while parsing out particular devices and corresponding materials for LCA. The structure/system becomes a framework for discussion of LCA elements.

Student performance was measured by comments and surveys, and then used to assess the effectiveness of this effort. Results showed that students did perform both LCA and rate structural system integrity. Surveys were directed at student motivation and participation.


This article was originally published in 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition Proceedings


© American Society for Engineering Education, 2015