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Materials Science and Engineering Overview - The Field - Preparation -
Day In The Life - Earnings - Employment - Industries - Development -
Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations 

Day in the Life 
From cellular phones to artificial hip joints to lightweight bicycles, materials engineers work to develop products that improve lives. Materials engineers bring advances in the auto, aerospace, construction, manufacturing, electronics, computer, and telecommunications industries by developing new or improved metals, plastics, ceramics, semiconductors and composites. They work to increase the strength of steel, toughen ceramics, lower the cost of composites and make faster computer circuits. Materials are involved in almost every engineering product, and materials engineers are needed to select the best material, improve its properties, lower its processing cost and increase its durability.

Career Tracks
There can be many tracks within a career. A materials engineer might begin in a technical area such as manufacturing or research and development, and then move into a management, sales, marketing, or a consulting role, depending on interest and ability.

Teamwork and Environment
In a manufacturing operation most tasks are conducted by cross-functional teams of people. Materials engineers are generally part of a support group integral to these teams for various functions -- from design concept through manufacturing processes to final product evaluations.

In addition to the technical and problem-solving skills requisite for a career in the field, the so-called `soft skills' will play a significant role in your success. Leadership abilities, teamwork, communication skills, flexibility, goal orientation, as well as the capacity for organization, all figure prominently in a career.

Because of their training and skills, materials engineers make strong candidates for jobs not traditionally associated with engineering: sales, training, law, medicine, insurance, real estate, publishing, finance, technical service, and government.

Opportunities exist for a wide range of people with a spectrum of backgrounds. A recent survey shows a changing distribution of people in the field over the past twenty years. Much of this change was the result of people becoming aware of the opportunities in the field.

Organizational Size
Each work environment is unique. Factors like a company's size may impact your career. Over half of the people polled in a recent survey of the field work in large companies (more than 1000 people). However, a growing number of materials engineers are finding positions in small companies.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society and the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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