The materials informatics skills necessary to extend materials databases, improve materials simulation, mine texts, automate materials research and development, and accelerate materials design are quickly becoming one of the most valuable skill sets for the modern workplace in both business and academia. However, training in practical applied materials informatics to use these tools is limited and inadequate for developing a workforce ready to advance materials science and engineering.
Engaging students in hands-on experience in research in materials informatics represents an exceptional opportunity for active learning through research. The power and accessibility of informatics tools, combined with their rapid evolution, and still relatively limited use in current MS&E research creates a rare opportunity for undergraduates with limited background to perform impactful research with modest training. This opportunity can motivate higher engagement and lead to widespread training in informatics tools and research skills. The Informatics Skunkworks Program develops the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem necessary to develop and grow these hands-on research experiences.