Department of Materials Science & Engineering

What is it like to study MSE?

Materials Science and Engineering is an inherently interdisciplinary field. We study the relationships among structure, properties, synthesis, and performance of materials. Specifically,

Structure: We study how materials are made from the atom up. Atoms can be combined into molecules, crystals, or amorphous networks, and much of our work today is at these levels.

Properties: We determine how the properties of materials are controlled by their structure and devise ways to make materials better.

Synthesis: We figure out how to make materials better and cheaper. With the fine control offered by nanotechnology, we can manipulate individual atoms.

Performance: Ultimately, we work to make materials that perform better in all possible applications.

You’ll find specific course requirements for our undergraduate curriculum, and requirements for the M.Eng., M.S., and Ph.D. degree programs in the appropriate program descriptions. Whether you choose MSE as an undergraduate major or whether you enter one of our graduate degree programs with a background in MSE or some other field, you will share some common experiences.

Materials Science and Engineering requires a deep knowledge of fundamentals. It incorporates mathematics, physics, chemistry, and increasingly biology, as well as skill sets from all the engineering disciplines – all of which are needed to understand how materials work and how they can be improved. Beyond these basics, you’ll master knowledge in these areas:

Structure of Materials to understand what kinds of structures are possible in materials. Beyond the basics, we offer numerous course options that provide critical background for various specializations.

Properties of Materials involves understanding the mechanical and chemical behavior of materials to learn what is possible today and to get the skills to generate what might be possible in the future.

Laboratory Experience is a big part of becoming a Materials Scientist. Our undergraduates get direct, hands-on experience in several MSE courses in their first three years, and participate in either an advanced senior lab program or undertake independent leading-edge research with a faculty member in their fourth year. Graduate students are heavily involved in research and have access to our world-class laboratories and facilities.

Materials Specialization enables you to gain greater understanding of specific classes of materials: biomaterials, electronic materials, polymers, ceramics, or metals.

Applications Specialization involves study of how materials are used in five strategic technological areas that will be important in the future: biotechnology and life sciences, energy and the environment, nanotechnology, information science and technology, and materials research. In addition, you may elect to prepare for leadership in the field by studying technology management and ethics.
Discovering MSE
The Stone Age, the Bronze Age…the Silicon Age. We name eras by the materials that define them. An...
What is MSE?
The field of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) researches all classes of materials (metals, c...
What do materials scientists and engineers do?
All engineered products – from airplanes to musical instruments, alternative energy sources to ec...
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