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What does it mean to be a material science engineer?

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I am a senior in high school and I have applied to college as an undecided engineering major. I read an article on material science engineering and I am very intrigued about this field of engineering. #engineering #college #material-science-engineering #undecided

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Dexter’s Answer

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Hi Rachel,

You know, if for some reason, I was reborn and retained my memory, material science would be a career I'd like to try. I worked on a research project with an advisor that was a material sciences professor, and he always talked about working on the coolest stuff.

Material science is a field where you can improve any physical process with new materials.

Let's say you want to make a better battery. Where do you start? Maybe you look at different metals and how they react with acids. Maybe someone needs to make a new metal alloy (blend of metals) to maximize the energy storage while also taking into account of the availability of the metals and packaging.

Or maybe you want to help save the environment from waste. It'd be amazing if someone could create a material that is ultra light, cheap, impact-absorbing, while also being super easy to recycle (or self-decomposes, or, even crazier, edible).

Or maybe you care about fashion. What if you could create a fabric which changes colors based on an interaction with a gas/liquid, or maybe temperature? What if you could make the softest material that human beings could ever feel, but at the same time, cats hate to scratch it? Or maybe even a material that can wash/clean itself without water?

All these improvements are what material science engineers work on. These engineers have been around since the beginning of civilization, creating iron weapons that displaced those that only used bronze. And these engineers will continue to be around searching for the best materials to use for the challenges that lay ahead for all of us. This is why I think material sciences is a super exciting subject. :)

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Dexter
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Jai’s Answer

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Hi Rachel,

Congrats on reaching your final steps of high school and thinking about your next steps! I received a mechanical engineering degree where I now work with medical devices related to heart therapies. In the medical field, materials (and materials engineering) are quickly advancing medical products and improving the ways we can cure and alleviate illnesses. If you are intrigued about materials engineering, I suggest you pursue your regular college coursework related to a science discipline. Many of the pre-med, engineering, and science field require fundamental courses such as chemistry, physics, and various math courses where you can ask your professors about your interests in materials.

Often, your professors will be doing research for the university or college where you could ask about your specific interests. Hopefully your professor can help connect you with someone from there.

I can only provide input from my insight and I love the industry I work in, so I hope you the best!


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Kollengode S’s Answer

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Materials science is an absolutely fascinating subject to get educated and work. Simply put, many of the materials in plastics, metal-matrix composites, ceramic-plastic composites, and specialty glasses did not even exist even 30 years ago. And these products are in use in our everyday life.

You will learn about the behavior of mostly solids -- wood, metals, alloys, concretes and refractories, consumer and engineering ceramics, fibers, and metal- and ceramic-matrix composites -- under a variety of Time-Temperature-environment conditions and under dynamic and static load conditions.

Sustainability and recycling too will be a big part of material science.
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Dipen’s Answer

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Material Science is an interesting field to study and work. No matter what industry you go everywhere material engineers are required. Material Science also have many specialty programs that you can select for masters if you want to do.
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Kuei-Ti’s Answer

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I'm not a material engineer, but I know several material engineers and have attended a few material engineering trainings myself.

The material engineers I know typically read research papers on materials, research materials' characteristics, collect related data, look for materials that meet the requirements (for the government, for the marketing team, for the product to work, etc.), and work with others (manufacturers, software engineers, etc.) to help make things work.

Of course, there are different kinds of material engineers, so their experiences might be totally different.
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David’s Answer

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Agree with the other answers, so many fields include material science and essential to many product designs. I have also found that engineering is a great starting point that can lead to many different career options like project mgmt, people leadership, business development. Good luck on the engineering career journey!
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