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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


Preparation
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.

Pre-College
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

College Programs
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.

Accredited Programs
Those interested in a career in materials engineering should consider reviewing engineering programs that are accredited by ABET, Inc. If you choose to attend a program that is not ABET accredited, you should be sure that the university is regionally accredited

Coursework
A 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.

Graduate School
Many 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.

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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