Preparation for a career in materials engineering can begin as early as
high school, and need not be limited to a course of 'materials' study.
There are many kinds of programs, degrees, and disciplines that will
enable you to pursue a career in the field.
It is highly recommended that while in high school you take the maximum
amount of college preparatory mathematics, laboratory sciences, and
English offered. If choices are possible, those courses highly dependent
upon knowledge and reasoning should take precedence over courses in which
the emphasis is on manual skill. Students should try to take all the
physical sciences and mathematics courses offered at their school. In
addition, students should take advantage of all available opportunities to
develop their communication skills. Study of a language other than English
is desirable. Talk to your guidance counselor about requirements at the
university of your choice
Most major universities have academic BS degree granting programs in one
of the specialty areas of Materials Science and Engineering. The majority
of undergraduate programs provide a survey across the spectrum of
materials. Other programs focus in one particular class of materials like
Ceramics, Metallurgy, or Polymers. A few universities only have
graduate programs. Graduate programs are open to people with bachelors
degrees in the field as well as those from other more general areas of
science and engineering. Specific areas of expertise in each program are
dependent upon the faculty in that program. The average program is staffed
by 15 faculty members. Programs range in faculty size from less than ten
members to near forty. No single program covers the entire field due its
breadth and the typically modest number of faculty members.
Those interested in a
career in materials engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are
ABET, Inc. If you choose to attend a program that is not ABET accredited, you should be sure that the university
is regionally accredited.
materials program serves a dual purpose: it provides technical information
and instills a thought process characteristic of the engineering
discipline. All programs integrate the four elements of the field
(properties, structure, processing, and performance) through the several
classes of materials (ceramics, electronic materials, metals, polymers,
composites). Specialized curricula synthesize one class of materials with
the elements of the field, in a Ceramic Engineering or Metallurgical
Engineering program, for example. In most programs, however, a core
curriculum is incorporated with courses addressing the scientific
principles relating to the properties and behavior of materials, as well
as the structure (atomic configurations), characterization, and processing
of materials. Engineering design courses focus on the performance of
materials in applications and emphasize devising new materials,
components, systems, or processes to meet particular objectives. Most
engineering programs develop from a mathematical base coupled with aspects
of chemistry or physics. MST, however, builds almost equally upon
chemistry and physics and includes an increasing influence of biology.
Communications, social issues, and the humanities are also incorporated in
order to provide individuals the requisite breadth to be able to place
technical problems in the context of tomorrow's world.
students continue their studies to earn an advanced degree, a master's
(MS) degree or a doctoral (Ph.D./D.Sc.) degree. They do this either
directly after earning the BS degree or after some work experience. An MS
degree generally can be earned within two years after the BS degree. The
doctoral degree, which typically involves four plus years of study and
research beyond the BS degree, is usually completed by those interested in
careers in research and/or teaching. Depending on an individual's career
goals, the BS degree may also be followed by study in such fields as
business administration, management, medicine, and law.
Some resources in this section are provided by The Minerals, Metals &
and the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.