Engineering Short Courses

About AU's Engineering Short Courses

Scientific and technological advances shape the face of industry today. In order for engineers, technologists and managers to keep up with the swift changes in the field, they must be lifelong learners.

For those interested in increasing their expertise in the field of ceramics and glasses, or those just being introduced, short courses are a good option. Designed for professionals in the ceramics and glass industry, these intensive courses offer a chance to update your knowledge of the field in a short period of time. Courses range from detailed, in-depth examinations of very specific topics to broader introductory classes.

We Can Develop a Course to Fit Your Needs

Many of the short courses we offer can be adjusted to fit the specific technological needs of your organization, or we can create a course individually designed to your specifications. These programs provide intensive instruction to your key people, who in turn disperse their new knowledge throughout the organization, providing a big return on your investment.

  • Since there are no employee travel expenses, the cost per employee (with an enrollment of ten or more) can be significantly less than the overall cost of sending staff to campus
  • Questions pertaining to your organization's needs can be confidentially discussed.
  • The course can be modified to address topics important to your organization, deleting those of little interest or expanding on areas of high priority.

Short course programs of several days' duration offer extensive in-depth coverage of materials and provide opportunities for greater interaction by participants.

To discuss the possibility of having a course designed especially for your company and presented on-site, contact: David Gottfried.

June 12 - 16, 2023

Fracture Analysis

Who Attends

Engineers, scientists and technicians interested in strength and fracture-mechanics testing, fracture issues related to process development or control, failure analysis (during production, testing, or service), and failure prevention. Class limit of 18.

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Course Description

This course covers the examination and interpretation of markings on fracture-exposed surfaces of glasses, polycrystalline ceramics, and single crystals, and the analysis of crack systems, i.e., fractography. Further, it covers using fractography in failure analysis, strength testing, and fracture-mechanics testing. The mechanisms by which fracture markings are produced will be explained, and the information provided by the markings (e.g., in locating and identifying fracture origins and in estimating stress at failure) will be emphasized. Observation and documentation techniques will be covered. The role of fracture analysis in failure prevention (i.e., ensuring mechanical reliability) is emphasized throughout the course. This is a hands-on course in which the students will view fractured glass and ceramic samples with stereographic optical microscopes and other tools. This year will be the 45th year the course has been offered. The course was started by Dr. Van Frechette in 1977.

Fracture Analysis

The course is designed to meet the needs of people interested in glasses or ceramics. Most of the examples that will be examined by the participants early in the course will be glass specimens, since fracture markings are most clearly seen in glass. Ceramic examples and specimens will be covered in depth in the later days of the course. In-depth coverage will be provided on equipment, documentation, formal fractographic standards, and quantitative fractography, with an emphasis on determining the stress in the part at fracture. Ample time is devoted to covering grinding and machining flaws in glasses and ceramics, the fractography of polycrystalline and single crystal ceramics, fracture toughness determination, and Weibull strength correlations with fractographic analysis. Links between fractography and failure prevention are included in the discussions, case studies, and examples.

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Course Outline

Fundamentals of fractography, explanations of fracture markings, examination of specimens, equipment for observation and documentation, fracture origins in glasses and ceramics, quantitative fractography in testing (strength, fracture mechanics) and failure analysis, examples of fracture in polycrystalline ceramics, and using fractography in failure prevention. Attendees may bring one or two specimens for after-class inspection. The course instructors will be available after class on Days 1, 2 and 4 for inspections of specimens. Attendees should bring a simple hand calculator and a laser pointer.

Schedule Outline: Extensive hands-on examination of specimens is dispersed throughout the entire 4.5 days of the course.

  • Days 1 and 2: Equipment and techniques, stress/strain basics, crack patterns (a first look), fracture markings (with hands-on examination of examples), fracture mechanics, stress corrosion, contact damage by particles, contact damage by grinding and machining, specimen reconstruction. (8:30 am-4:30 pm each day)
  • Day 3: Thermal-shock origins in glass, glue chipping, common conditions of failure, fracture mirror constant (definition and measurement) (8:30 am-12:00 pm) Note: Class participants will have the opportunity to visit the Corning Museum of Glass. The course instructors will not be available the afternoon of Day 3 for inspection of specimens.
  • Day 4: Further discussion of fracture mirrors, making and using replicas of fracture surfaces, fractographic standards, origins in ceramics, machining and grinding cracks in glasses and ceramics. (8:30 am-4:30 pm)
  • Day 5: Single crystals, Weibull strength analysis and fractography, case studies (8:30 am-12:30 pm)


Dr. James Varner is a Professor of Ceramic Engineering Emeritus at Alfred University. He received his PhD in Ceramics at Alfred University.  His interest in fractography of glass and ceramics dates back to his senior thesis done under the supervision of Prof. Frechette.  He continued this interest throughout his professional career. He has taught this course for over 25 years.

Dr. Jeffrey J. Swab is a senior research scientist with the Army Research Laboratory, Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.  He received a BS in Ceramic Science & Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University and his MS and PhD in Material Science & Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and SUNY-Stony Brook, respectively.  He has been conducting fracture analysis on advanced ceramics for almost four decades.  He organized and led the first and largest international round robin exercise on fractography of advanced ceramics and was the leader responsible for developing and publishing the world’s first fractography standard practice for ceramics (ASTM C1322).  Dr. Swab also spent two years on assignment teaching at the United States Military Academy West Point.

Course Fee

The course fee is $1,895.00. We do not issue refunds, however you may substitute someone else from your company in your place. Fee includes: Course notes, Fractography of Ceramics and Glasses practice guide, one dinner, and three lunches.

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