Materials Science

Materials science is the study of the structure and properties of materials, and how they can be used to create things that improve our society. Materials science professionals work with a variety of materials, ranging from ceramics, composites, metals and polymers. The CGIF specifically focuses on the ceramic and glass materials.

Materials science involves understanding the relationships between the structure and properties of materials, and how those relationships can be manipulated to achieve desired characteristics. It is an interdisciplinary field, meaning it draws from physics, chemistry, engineering, and other sciences to understand and develop new materials. Materials science has applications in many industries such as aerospace, biomedical, energy and sustainability, and more.

What do materials scientists do?

Materials scientists study the properties and structures of materials to help create new products or improve existing ones. They also test and evaluate the physical, chemical, and mechanical properties of materials, such as their strength, durability, and resistance to heat, light, and corrosion. Materials scientists are integral to the development of new technologies and products, as they help to create the materials necessary to make them possible. Because everything around us is made up of materials, the problems and scope of what materials scientists can solve is vast.


What problems do materials scientists solve?

Materials scientists help solve a wide variety of real-world problems. For example, they may design new materials that are used in different kinds of transportation, create better medical devices like biomedical implants or heart valves, create renewable energy sources for harvesting devices, develop and improve materials used in aircraft and space vehicles, and so much more! 

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Materials engineers in the aerospace industry are responsible for researching, designing, developing, and testing the materials used in the construction of aircraft, spacecraft, and other aerospace components. They work to ensure that these materials are strong, light, and able to withstand the extreme temperatures and pressures of flight. They also develop new technologies to improve the performance and durability of these materials.  Aerospace materials engineers must have a strong understanding of physics, mathematics, and engineering principles in order to develop and build complex machines. They also play an important role in making sure these systems are safe, reliable, and efficient.

Employer Examples: SpaceX, NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing

Computing, data, & digital technologies

Materials engineers working in computer science and data typically research and develop materials that can be used in computing applications. They may also design and create materials that can be used in data storage devices such as hard drives, solid-state drives, and memory cards. Computer science and data engineers are also responsible for developing and analyzing technology solutions that help businesses and organizations process data more efficiently. They design and create systems and software applications to collect, store, and analyze data from various sources. They use their knowledge of material properties to optimize performance, longevity, and cost-effectiveness of the material. Additionally, materials engineers may develop materials for use in microprocessors, printed circuit boards, and other electronic components like LED lighting.

Employer Examples: Amazon, Intel, Google, BOSCH, National Security Agency

Environment, sustainability & energy

Materials engineers focusing on the environment and energy work on developing new materials and materials-based technologies to reduce energy consumption and improve energy efficiency, as well as reduce environmental impacts. They may develop new materials for renewable energy production, such as solar cells or wind turbines, or materials for energy storage, such as batteries. They may also work on technologies for reducing air and water pollution, or developing more efficient waste management systems. Ultimately, materials engineers can help create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future by developing new materials and technologies that reduce energy consumption and emissions.

Employer Examples: General Electric Company, Siemens, Panasonic, American Elements

Health & medicine

Materials engineers in health and medicine work to improve the field of medicine through the use of materials science and engineering principles. They develop new materials and methods of production to create medical devices, instruments, and tools. They also work on improving existing medical products and developing new technology that could help advance medical treatments and therapies. Materials engineers use their knowledge of materials' properties, such as strength, durability, and flexibility, to develop medical instruments and tools that can be used in a variety of medical settings. They may also work to create materials specifically designed to help with medical treatments, such as prosthetics and implants.

Employer Examples: Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, Avantor

Infrastructure, transportation & society

Materials engineers in infrastructure and transportation are responsible for designing, developing, and testing the materials used in the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, railways, and other transportation infrastructures. They use their knowledge of a wide range of materials to ensure that these structures are safe and reliable. In addition, materials engineers must be knowledgeable about the environmental and economic effects of material selection and application. Furthermore, they must be able to analyze test results and make recommendations for improvement.

Employer Examples: Tesla, Amtrak, Bechtel, Parsons Corporation

Robotics & manufacturing

Materials engineers in robotics and manufacturing work to design, develop, test, and evaluate the physical and chemical properties of materials used in the manufacturing process. They are responsible for selecting and developing materials for use in manufacturing products, such as cars, electronics, machines, and other types of equipment. They often use computer-aided design (CAD) and other software to create designs and analyze the properties of materials, as well as develop prototypes and test materials in order to find the best material for the job. Additionally, they may also be involved in identifying and troubleshooting problems related to materials used in the manufacturing process.

Employer Examples: Applied Materials, Inc, Boston Dynamics, iRobot, Raytheon

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