Foundry and Forge

The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is home to builders and creators. Our students strive to understand the hows and whys of materials and apply them to change our world.

Our department was founded by educators who emphasized learning through doing rather than rote memorization. The metalworking facilities date back to those early years when nearly half the students studied Geology and Mining, which included metallurgy and later became materials science and engineering.

Hands-on education is no less valuable today. Students and instructors, often deeply immersed in our high-tech world, treasure the tactile experience of melting, annealing, cooling, hammering, and bending. Students learn the basics of materials processing through classic techniques like investment casting while simultaneously discovering how new technologies like 3D printing can be integrated into a traditional process.

The making of pieces — and even mistakes — offers an educational experience beyond textbooks. “It clicks into a creative and design impulse that nothing around here — not problem sets in physics nor chemistry — satisfies,” says Sam Allen (SM ’71, PhD ’75), POSCO Professor Emeritus of Physical Metallurgy.

The renovation of the foundry and forge continues DMSE’s mission of modernizing its teaching laboratories. Since 2000, we have systematically renovated them with new systems and equipment. We believe that these spaces are essential to educating tomorrows’ materials engineers.

Located beneath the Infinite Corridor, the metalworking facilities are at the heart of MIT. They are also close to DMSE’s labs in Buildings 4, 6, 8, and 13 and will be feet away from MIT’s new facility for nanotechnology, which will be constructed on the current site of Building 12.

Generations of students built their careers on experiences with Robert Richards, Walter Backofen, John Chipman, Morris Cohen, and Tom King. Professor Mert Flemings (SB ’51, SM ’52, ScD ’54) — a beneficiary of our department’s education and a giant in our field — has taught generations of leaders in materials. He serves as our advisor, as DMSE ushers the foundry and forge into a new era.

Donors wishing to contribute directly to the renovation of the foundry and forge can click on the button below, or go to giving.mit.edu and search for 2740311.