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Corrosion? Yep, There’s an App for That

Monday, February 11, 2013

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It won't threaten Fruit Ninja or Pandora, but a new reference-packed corrosion app for engineers is finding its own success.

The new corrosion resource comes from an engineering student at the University of Toronto, whose iPhone app puts a vast array of reference materials and corrosion-related experiments at engineers' fingertips.

A+ Homework

The work originated in 2011, when Professor Steven J. Thorpe challenged his MSE 315—Environmental Degradation of Materials students to develop an app that would provide course content and engage peers.

Jason Tam, then a third-year materials engineering student, answered the call.

Despite having no background in application development, Tam completed a working draft of the program in only four months.

Corrosion App
Photos: University of Toronto

Engineering student Jason Tam developed an app to enhance corrosion engineering learning.

Engaging Students

The MSE 315 course primarily deals with electrochemical and corrosion behavior, which requires frequent use of reference textbooks for terminologies and benchmarking data in electrochemical measurements.

"Today's students are constantly plugged into their digital devices," said Thorpe. He said he initially searched iTunes for a related app and found only 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?" Thorpe said in a university interview.

'Remarkable Step'

The app provides access to corrosion engineering references and content, including:

  • Glossary with more than 300 technical corrosion engineering terms;
  • Constants, such as the Boltzmann constant used for calculating energy levels relating to electrochemical potentials;
  • Reference electrodes and schematics, including conversion tools and benchmark measurements for a range of materials and their electrochemical potentials; and
  • Virtual corrosion experiments with data for a range of materials in various electrochemcial experiments specified by the user.

Professor Steven Thorpe solicited his students to develop an app to access corrosion resources. Jason Tam stepped up to the challenge and is now giving all app proceeds to a scholarship fund at his university.

"This new application changes the way we access reference information in the corrosion science and engineering field," said Thorpe.

"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."

Giving Back

Tam has decided to give back to his school by designating all app proceeds to the George B. Craig Scholarship, an in-course award named after a former University of Toronto Materials Science & Engineering professor.

The scholarship benefits an academically high-performing, upper-year materials engineering student at the university with a demonstrated financial need.

The corrosion app currently sells for 99 cents on the iTunes app store.

For non-iPhone users, an Android app is currently being developed, and MSE 315 students are still able to access textbooks and other materials.

Unfortunately, the university notes, "MSE 315 students are not permitted to use this app in their final exam."


Tagged categories: Apps; Corrosion; Education; Engineers; Information technology; Research; Worker training

Comment from Donald L Crusan, (2/11/2013, 9:50 AM)

Sad but the iphone is dying and a lot of us still prefer our Blackberry. When will these types of Apps be availabel to "Droids and Blackberrys. The iphone is just not as business friendly and way over priced. steve jobs is dead & there is noone to overprice the market at apple these days.

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