The Ubiquitous Discipline of Materials Science and Engineering
Look around you! Materials compose everything you see. You can observe both man-made and natural materials in everything from your cell phone, to your bike, to your own backyard. Materials scientists and engineers create the materials that touch our everyday lives and drive advances in civilization, including
- Nanotechnologies that make computers smaller, faster, and more economical;
- Solar photovoltaic systems that provide affordable power;
- Metamaterials, which may someday be fabricated into a Harry Potter-like invisibility cloak or a superlens;
- Tough composites that make mountain bikes lighter and stronger;
- Nanotubes and buckyballs; and
- Artificial skin for burn victims and other biomaterials.
Mold a Rewarding Career in Almost Any Field with MSE
The field of materials science and engineering (MSE) offers career opportunities as boundless as your imagination, in just about every industry. The “science” component of the field seeks to understand the natural and man-made properties and phenomena of materials through the scientific method. Once a material is thoroughly researched and characterized, engineering can be employed to create, fabricate, or improve the material to suit the needs of society.
MSE is a hub discipline, having strong connections with other disciplines that rely on materials including chemistry, biology, archeology, economics, and physics. Experts in these fields collaborate with materials scientists and engineers to understand the role of materials in their own work.
Discover MSE in Summer Youth Programs
Come join us on a quest to learn about MSE! Michigan Tech’s Summer Youth Program offers activities in materials science and engineering (outlined below) that will provide you with an array of opportunities to explore this fascinating field—and may help you decide if MSE is a good career fit for you.
Explorations in Engineering
Have fun exploring the world of materials! Get hands-on experience with materials science and engineering:
- Create materials by pouring molten metal.
- Process materials by hammering and heating.
- Peer into the structure of materials through a microscope.
Look around--materials are everywhere! Learn how processing changes structure, and how structure controls the behavior of materials. Understanding the basic science of a material allows us to engineer and improve the material. Experience scientific methodology, hands-on engineering, critical thinking, and discovery-based learning.
Group Program Sessions
The Department of Materials Science and Engineering hosts weeklong sessions as part of Summer Youth’s Women in Engineering program and Engineering Scholars Program. Peruse the descriptions below.
Learn the fundamentals of materials science and engineering (MSE):
- Explore the six basic classes of materials, and watch exciting demonstrations that highlight the unique properties of each.
- Find out why MSE is considered a hub for other fields of engineering and science.
- Discover the materials science tetrahedron, which illustrates the relationship of the four facets of a material: structure, properties, synthesis and processing, and performance.
Let's Make Ice Cream!
Making ice cream using liquid nitrogen is the coolest, most delicious way to learn about material-state changes, thermodynamics, solidification, and the effect of processing on structure.
Like surprises? This one will jump out at you, as you experience the behavior of shape memory in wire. Learn about the thermomechanical processing of shape memory wire and the thermal aspects of materials in general. Create a permanent unique shape in the wire. You get to design it—and you get to keep it!
What's an easy way to engineer a material? Casting, which is used to synthesize metallic objects that often have complex shapes, is a very common practice in industry.
Try your hand at the sand-casting process. You will get to design your own name plate using a 3-D printer. Your design will form the sand mold cavity, which is then filled with molten metal. After the metal cools, you will shake out the metal part and finish the final product. Learn about other pattern-making methods and the science behind casting methods. Take your masterpiece home!
Leave campus with your own metal creation, inspired by history. Learn the ancient art of blacksmithing, which was one of the first methods of processing metals. A blacksmith can form a metal into any desired shape.
You, the blacksmith, will get to choose a design for your creation (we will have suggestions for you). Repeat the process of heating metal until it is red hot and beating it with a hammer, and your material will transform into a new shape. When the metal becomes heat treated, its internal structure changes, along with such properties as strength. By the time your final product cools, you will have accomplished deformation processing—changing something's shape by force—and thermal processing—subjecting something to high temperatures. Learn the science behind thermomechanical methods.
What benefits from being light and strong? Anything that flies or floats. Composites, which are a combination of materials that do not mix at the atomic level, offer the best of both material worlds. Light and strong composites include Fiberglas, Kevlar, and carbon fiber using an epoxy binder. How do these composites compare with one another and with traditional strong materials, like steel?
Use what you learn to make a small boat out of Fiberglas, and race against your classmates. These methods translate to full-scale boats and to other objects made of composite materials