The percentage of materials engineers in the total of all engineers in the engineering profession is small: probably less than 5%. However, the need to apply basic materials principles to the solution of engineering problems is great. Certainly in today's high-tech society basic materials principles must be applied to almost all endeavors: thermal protection of the space shuttle, creation of the artificial hip, design of the titanium golf club; and production of advanced battery systems for the electric car, the artificial heart, and the lap-top computer. Industry and government have traditionally depended on a few individuals on a project to address, for example, materials selection and process issues (ie, a titanium, stainless steel or plastic artificial hip; which alloy; which fabrication sequence; a protective coating for corrosion and wear?). Without the benefit of a materials education, these individuals rely on handbook information, experience and vendor data to select materials and to determine the processing sequence. The B.S. degree in materials science and engineering teaches the inter-relationship between structure, properties and processing; factors which determine the in-service performance and durability of a component or product. Thus, the graduate of a materials science and engineering program is uniquely prepared to contribute to any design team effort to fabricate a new device, product or component; or make an existing one work better. Academic programs in the following areas offer such training: metallurgy, materials science, materials engineering, polymer chemistry, ceramics; plastics and composites engineering.
Graduates from materials programs are readily hired by industry. Those who become involved in materials engineering but who do not have formal training in this area often return to academia to earn the M.S. or Ph.D. in one of the above fields so that they can better perform their job. There are a great deal more materials jobs than there are materials engineers. Any young person interested in science, math and chemistry, and considering engineering as a career option should consider the materials science and engineering career option.
As a first step in the process of considering the materials science and engineering career option, I suggest that you visit the Career Resource Center for Materials Science and Engineering web pages sponsored by the TMS-AIME, an organization dedicated to the materials profession; or the Materials Career Pages maintained by The Institute of Materials in the United Kingdon. These pages provide an excellent, and continuously updated introduction to the field.
A couple of other web pages are worth a visit to learn more about materials engineering. Visit the Nanozone to learn about this new technology. The University of Washington , The U.K. Science Museum, and Stange Matter are all worth a visit!
You might want to read Affirmations by some of our students in the SJSU MatE program to get the student's perspective.
Metals and Alloys
Concept of Structure
Return to the Materials Engineering Program Home Page at San Jose State University.
Please send web page comments to Patrick P. Pizzo, Professor Emeritus of Materials Engineering
Created by Dr. Pizzo on August 1, 1997.
Last Revision, December 06, 2012