It started to change in the 1980s when computers became more powerful and the newly developed Thermo-Calc allowed more flexible calculation set-ups. It was still difficult to use, but after learning the basics of the interface, it was possible for the students to define their own problems. This made it easier for the students to understand what they were doing. It was also at this time that industrial firms wanted to be able to perform calculations in-house. This increased the demand for a new type of education that focused on calculating various types of phase diagrams and how to handle calculational difficulties.
Meanwhile at the university, minicomputers became more powerful and more common. The university started investing in new technology, such as a common terminal network. Students and teachers started to appreciate the new technology and some laboratory classes were replaced with computer exercises. This was also the time when the DICTRA code, which is now called the Diffusion Module (DICTRA), was developed and introduced in education.
Traditional education of thermodynamics and kinetics was given to the students during the first and second year. However, the teachers had no experience of the new CALPHAD technology. This kind of education was at the time of no value for the students because it couldn’t serve as a basis for the emerging field of computational thermodynamics. In fact, it did more harm than good. The conclusion of this was that the education was in need of revision.
The materials education at KTH had great support for revision, but there was no common vision of how. Outside the field of materials, a revision usually meant getting rid of metallurgy and replacing it with more chemistry and physics. The problem was that in this case it was the education of chemistry and physics that was in need of revision.
The first course in materials design was launched by Mikael Lindholm at KTH in 1995. The format was simple: a couple of lectures, a project defined by the industry and examination in the form of a written report with an oral presentation. This course quickly became the most popular course in materials education at KTH.