What is materials science & engineering?

Materials Science or Materials Engineering is the study of all of the materials we see around us every day.  From simple things we take for granted like the can holding our fizzy drink or the pen we write with, to materials that push the boundaries of technology such as those used in aerospace, sports equipment or medicine.

Materials Science or Engineering forms a bridge between the sciences and engineering. It allows theory to be put into practice in a way which benefits everybody, since everything we do every day involves materials. Materials Scientists or Engineers look at all of the different groups of materials, metals and alloys, polymers, ceramics and composites. They develop new materials for new applications, improve existing materials to give improved performance and look at ways in which different materials can be used together.

Materials experts need a thorough understanding of how materials work. This means they are able to control the structure of a material, often on an atomic level, so that its properties, for example strength, can be tailored to suit a particular application. It is also important to understand how materials can be processed to the shape required and materials scientists and engineers have developed many novel ways of making things. A good example is the silicon microchip found in our computers.