Studies & Degrees in Materials Science
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Materials Science Study Programs
Materials science is an interdisciplinary field of study closely allied with engineering studies. Basic materials science study focuses on understanding the properties, functions and characteristics of matter, how materials are assembled and how to use this knowledge to engineer high-performing products. It is a fundamental science toward the development of material products, and almost exclusively deals with solid matter.
Materials science can only be studied in its entirety at high education institutions. Colleges, universities and technical schools all provide courses in materials science. It is important to note that many materials science programs will include engineering programs, and graduates will typically receive a degree that includes both these disciplines. This route of education will also include require laboratory sessions along with an internship for a research lab or industrial engineering.
Very few companies will offer an apprenticeship program in this field, and many will still require some level of higher education before offering any form of full-time employment. Workshops are offered in materials science, but often these are for teachers, professors or other employees that already possess some formal higher education training.
Skills, Qualifications, and Prerequisites for Studies in Materials Science
Since almost all material science courses are offered at higher education institutions, students must meet admission requirements for universities, colleges and technical schools. These requirements can range from secondary school certificates to entrance exams, but differ by country, state and individual institution. To pursue a master’s or doctorate in materials science, students must first possess a bachelor’s of science degree.
An aptitude towards the maths and sciences is essential for any degree of success in materials science. Students should have a solid foundation in basic math, physics and naturals science before considering this course of study. As this study typically leads to a wide range of work, possessing a complete fundamental knowledge by the end of secondary school will better prepare candidates for all educational and employment opportunities.
Material scientists or material science engineers will need persistence and confidence, as they often undertake scientific projects where achieving the desired experimental results is difficult.
Skills and Qualifications Acquired from Studies in Materials Science
Since a study in materials science goes hand-in-hand with engineering studies, students will often study materials science along with another specified area – such as electrical, mechanical, production or technical engineering. An overall basic course in materials science, specifically, will provide skills and knowledge in the following areas:
- Advanced physics, including atomic structures and bonds.
- Advanced chemistry.
- Ceramics, metallurgy and polymerics.
- History of material production (stone age, bronze age, etc.).
- Material properties, types and classifications.
- Matter transformations, systems and phases.
- Structure, diffusion and imperfections of solids.
- Problem-solving strategies.
- Types of structural modification.
- Laboratory and engineering technologies.
- Specialized engineering studies.
There are innumerable jobs available to materials scientists and engineers, as much of their work includes researching, developing and improving materials important to society. Whether employed by an oil company, production plant, international corporation, government program, research facility or university, materials science graduates can expect to work in the development of nuclear materials, catalysts, batteries, fuels, metals, plastics and countless other materials.
Some materials science graduates work in forensic sciences or healthcare associations, either identifying important materials, developing new technology or inventing new material combinations for specific purposes. They can also work as professors, metallurgists, welders, technicians, analysts, writers and chemists.