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Blending Education and Polymer Science: Student Contributions to a Thermodynamic Property Database



Roselyne B. Tchoua, Jian Qin, Debra Audus, Kyle Chard, Ian Foster, Juan de Pablo


Structured databases of materials properties play a central role in the everyday research activities of materials scientists. Researchers turn to these databases to quickly discover, query, compare, and aggregate various properties allowing for the development of new materials. However, while there are many examples of commonly used databases, a significant number of important properties remain locked within the tables, figures, and text of publications. While information extraction techniques can be applied to unstructured content, these techniques are not yet capable of accurate unsupervised extraction. To address these shortcomings, while simultaneously preparing the next generation of scientists for their future endeavors, we developed a novel course-based approach in which students develop skills in polymer physics and apply their knowledge by assisting with the creation of a database. The students also use their perspective to suggest solutions to the challenging problem of database creation, which will continue to inhibit materials design without concerted efforts. This paper describes the structure, content, and outcomes of this experimental course with a focus on student feedback.
Journal of Chemical Education


Chi parameter, database, education


Tchoua, R. , Qin, J. , Audus, D. , Chard, K. , Foster, I. and de Pablo, J. (2016), Blending Education and Polymer Science: Student Contributions to a Thermodynamic Property Database, Journal of Chemical Education, [online],, (Accessed May 30, 2024)


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Created August 14, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021