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What is Materials Engineering?

Phone screens that don’t scratch in your pocket but know when your fingers touch them? “Shape memory” biomedical devices that save and transform lives? Ever smaller, lighter, and longer-lasting batteries and supercapactiors? Compositionally diverse artificial alloys for super-efficient engines or high-temperature, high-strength aerospace applications? All these technologies are Materials Engineering advances. Whether you want a financially and personally rewarding career in industry, or a lifetime of research and development at the leading edge of science and technology, Materials Engineering has exciting and impactful opportunities for you!


But what do Materials Engineers do…?

Like all engineers, Materials Engineers solve problems. We work in factories, in research labs, with customers, as designers, in small companies, and in big ones. We work to create completely new ways of doing things, and as detectives trying to figure out why a part or system didn’t work.

One of the most exciting aspects of being a Materials Engineer is that we aren’t focused on a single application area or product. We focus on the materials themselves. Almost always, the fundamental limitation on why we can’t just build a better one, whatever it is–one that’s taller, stronger, lighter, safer in the human body, that stores more energy, is cheaper to buy, or one of a million other ways “it” could be better–is that we don’t have a material that can do what we need.

Automotive, aerospace, biomedical, energy generation and storage, electronics, communication–all areas of technology and medicine depend on having materials that can do what’s needed.

Materials Engineers use math, physics, and chemistry as tools to explore, understand, and control how materials work. We apply that knowledge to design new materials, identify optimal existing materials and processing techniques, and explain why materials failed. We are core members of any engineering team aiming to transform what’s possible, and you can’t walk down the street without a ton of examples of Materials Engineers at work!


Signs that Materials Engineering Might be for You

  • You like to understand why things work/don’t work so you can make them better
  • You’re interested in enabling new ways of doing things
  • You want to solve real-world problems by making new capabilities possible
  • You may not love math, physics or chemistry themselves, but you like to use them to understand the world… and to change the world!

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