Studies & Degrees in Metallurgy

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When the Hittites found out about extraction of iron from ores, they wasted no time conquering neighboring kingdoms that had no choice but succumb to the military superiority of the Hittites as their iron implements made bronze weapons obsolete. Because of the discovery of iron, the need for superior metals have become the thrust of ancient military powers which inadvertently led to the development of metal casting which would be later known as Metallurgy.

Metallurgy is the science that deals with the physical and chemical behaviors of metallic elements and their mixtures or more commonly known as alloys.

In modern times, the use of metals is just too many to count but normally we see them as base materials for transport vehicles like airplanes, maritime ships, automobiles and spacecrafts, we also see metals being used as foundations for structures such as skyscrapers, bridges and houses and, of course, being used as the main component of military hardware. Truly, life as known today would not come about had metal had not been discovered.

Since a lot of metals had been already discovered, most metallurgists today are concerned on how to efficiently extract ores with emphasis on safety and economics. Typically, metals can only be extracted with the use of blast furnaces that would subject the ores into extremely high temperatures and because of the dangers of these high temperature processes to the workers and to the environment, the process of extracting ores cheaply and in a safe manner remains a work in progress for leading metallurgists.

Another important aspect of Metallurgy is the mining of ores and pinpointing of sites where there is abundance of ores could be found. Basically, metallurgists would be looking for locations that would be rich in iron, aluminum, copper, zinc and magnesium; the five most used metals in the world. Using modern equipments, they can do sampling and they would know if a site could be a potential ore mine.

Probably, the most popular path of metallurgists is going to production engineering of metals. The fate of the extracted metals would be on the hands of production engineers depending on what type of consumers would they cater to. Usually, the weight, strength, toughness, hardness, corrosion resistance and performance in extreme temperature are the main considerations depending on the client’s specifications. For example, IBM Computers plans to manufacture laptop computers that have internally heat resistant materials that would not conduct heat generated internally, a common problem by current models. The metallurgist who would have to solve this conundrum would have to do a series of tests on different kinds of metals and alloys on a temperature commonly reached by laptops internally. Once the right material has been identified, production of these superior laptops would commence. Of course, cost of producing a specified metal is always in consideration. Although, the metallurgist can mixed the perfect alloy that would meet the specified metal but the cost of producing such metal is economically not feasible, then probably, the client might not push through with their plans of mass producing their new models.

The field of Metallurgy is, indeed, could be considered crude but with advancements in computer and laser technologies, room for further advancements and opportunities is like a big door waiting to be opened by those who would take courses in metallurgy.