Materials Science and Engineering: Because Everything is Made of Something

Hello! I’ve been a reader and commenter here on Engineer Blogs since my first timid steps into the blogosphere. I’m thrilled to be here as a guest blogger, and to represent my little corner of the engineering world: materials science and engineering.

I generally find that most undergraduates are unaware of MSE unless required to take an intro course, which includes many mechanical and biomedical engineering students. Part of this is a matter of size; even the largest MSE departments are usually under 100 students per graduating class. It is also very typical that the class size grows dramatically between the 2nd and 3rd year, when students change majors or are finally forced to declare. Another reason has to do with job titles after graduation. Looking through the alum database from my undergraduate institution, job titles are more frequently Process Engineer, Product Engineer, R&D Engineer, or Quality Engineer.

We don’t have the big name or numbers of electrical or mechanical engineering, or the glamour of aerospace, but materials engineering influences pretty much every other field of engineering. It’s kind of awesome like that.

Fundamentally, materials science is all about the relationships between structure, processing, properties, and performance. It also means that I tend to argue with How It’s Made when they attempt to explain why a certain process is used, or what a specific step does, especially when the topic is metallurgy. On the other hand, part of what makes the field so fascinating is that everything is made of something, and figuring out what would be necessary to make it is almost endlessly amusing.

What do you find most interesting or exciting about your engineering discipline?




5 responses to “Materials Science and Engineering: Because Everything is Made of Something”

  1. Miss Outlier

    Welcome Miss MSE! Look forward to reading more from you. :)

    My favorite part of mechanical engineering is building stuff. Having an idea, and then seeing that idea in physical reality from your own hands – incredibly cool.

  2. AS

    I’m surprised that MSE isn’t getting more respect. EE and ME are pretty tapped out for game changing ideas as far as I can see (I’m an EE in Power Electronics/Electric Machines). Power converters are small and really really efficient, heat engines are already at about the theoretical limit in lab settings and that’s slowly coming out to industry. Computing will keep chugging along Moore’s power law as far as I can see, but the big changes I can see are all in the chemical and materials area: batteries, fuel cells, cheap magnets, spin devices and superconductors.

    Look forward to seeing what you have to write.

    1. Loves The Sun

      Well, I’m not sure that computing will keep chugging along Moore’s Law forever. The smaller the geometries get, the harder (and weirder, and much more expensive) it gets to do integrated circuit design. If Moore’s Law does keep chugging along it will depend on … Materials Science and Engineering! That field will be necessary to keep coming up with FinFETs and other such technologies.

      Now if they could only come up with superconducting metalization for integrated circuits, that would be something!

  3. Fluxor

    Moore’s law has everything to do with material science. The march towards ever more computing power in ever smaller packages arises out of the study and manipulation of silicon and all the other materials they layer on top of it.

    PS: Welcome to EB, Miss MSE!

  4. FrauTech

    We had a fairly good set of materials course requirements in my ME undergrad program. That being said fluids and heat transfer are probably my favorite general subjects. And while I enjoy kicking out a prototype and running tests like Miss Outlier does, I also like the elegance of pouring over tons of test data and trying to draw conclusions or look for patterns.

    And though I’m not the first to say it, welcome to EB! Glad to have you here!