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College of Engineering

Materials Engineering

Materials have been central to the growth, prosperity, security and quality of life of humans since the beginning of recorded history. In everyday life, we are constantly reminded that we live in a world that is both dependent upon, and limited by, materials. Everything we see and use is made of materials derived from the earth: cars, airplanes, computers, refrigerators, microwave ovens, TVs, dishes, silverware, athletic equipment of all types and even biomedical devices such as replacement joints and limbs. Materials influence our lives each time we buy or use a new product.

No engineer can make anything without materials, so materials engineers are at the forefront of every cutting-edge engineering development. They achieve new levels of understanding of materials and the controls in materials processing to achieve the performance outcomes desired.

The intellectual core and definition of the field stem from a realization concerning the application of all materials. Whenever a material is being created, developed or produced, the properties or phenomena the material exhibits are of central concern. Experience shows that the properties and phenomena associated with a material are intimately related to its composition and structure at all levels, including which atoms are present and how the atoms are arranged in the material, and that this structure is the result of synthesis and processing. The final materials must perform a given task and must do so in an economical and societally acceptable manner. It is these elements’ properties, structure and composition, synthesis— and the strong interrelationship among them — that define the field of materials science and engineering.

Materials scientists and engineers study the structure and composition of materials on scales ranging from the electronic and atomic through the microscopic to the macroscopic. They develop new materials, improve traditional materials and are key people in the manufacturing process to produce materials reliably and economically. They seek to understand phenomena and to measure materials properties of all kinds, and they predict and evaluate the performance of real materials as structural or functional elements in engineering systems. Employment opportunities span all types of industry, such as aerospace, automotive, chemical, electronic, energy and primary material-producing companies.

The first three years of study provide the basic educational core. In addition to the broad range of basic sciences and general education courses, the core provides a generic approach to the elements of the field. The core exploits the idea that the field is composed of the key elements of the field: synthesis/processing, composition/structure, properties and performance. This concept provides the foundation across the materials classes: ceramics, metals, polymers, etc. The senior year, consisting of electives primarily, allows students the opportunity to focus their program toward personal goals in the field.

In addition to the undergraduate program in materials science and engineering that leads to the Bachelor of Science in Materials Science Engineering (B.S.MSE), the school offers graduate programs for the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees.

For current information about plans of study, please visit the Materials Engineering website.