Materials science is a field of engineering concerned with the design and discovery of new materials and its ability to be implemented into a current product or system. It is an interdisciplinary discipline combining the physics and chemistry of matter along with engineering application.
Material scientists investigate the strengths and properties of materials by performing failure analysis through both computational and physical tests. They study the relationships between material structures and properties, developing new processes to manufacture these materials and utilise these processes to achieve a desirable and usable product. New materials can have functions in many industries including biomedicine, civil, automotive, aerospace and electrical engineering sectors. Material science takes materials back to fundamental principles to investigate its atomic, microscopic and macroscopic structure, understanding how these structures interact when applied under specific loads in specific conditions.
On the left is a typical tensile test set up and on the right are the results plotted onto a stress-strain curve for a metal of some sort. Sources: www.modulusandmatrix.com; www.admet.com
All engineers should have a fundamental knowledge of material science to be able to assist with the design, manufacturing, maintenance and containment of materials in a safe manner.
Materials science is a relatively new discipline of engineering which became recognised in the 1940s. Research in the field has lead to breakthroughs in technology such as lightweight composite manufacture and nano materials. Today society is heavily dependent on lightweight materials for lighter and faster vehicles and optical fibers for telecommunications. Nanotechnology, medical technologies and lightweight materials are still areas of copious research.
Skills and Expertise
Strong chemistry, physics and mathematics understanding from a first principles level.
Knowledge of applied examples of engineering products understanding products and machines.
Understanding of material testing machines and using them in a safe and effective manner.
Be able to represent material testing results in an effective manner for many different engineers to be able to extrapolate.
Granta Design - CES Selector
CAD packages (E.g. CATIA, Solidworks, Autocad, Inventor, PTC Creo)
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Software (E.g. Ansys, Abaqus, Nastran, HyperWorks)
Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)
Research and Development Engineer
UK: Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3)
USA: American Ceramic Society (ACerS), American Chemical Society (ACS), Materials Information Society (ASM International), Materials Research Society (MRS)