Materials Science and Engineering is widely recognized as one of the most promising technical fields of the 21st century.
Materials scientists and engineers specialize in the characterization, development, processing and use of metallic, ceramic, polymeric and electronic materials that are employed in all fields of technology.
Materials scientists and engineers are developing important new materials to meet the needs of our modern technological society. These include high-temperature superconductors; ultra-high-purity semiconductors for solid-state electronic devices; high-strength alloys for use at the extreme temperatures encountered in jet and rocket engines; strong, light alloys and composites for aerospace applications; specialized glasses and ceramics with high thermal, mechanical and chemical stability; and a host of polymeric materials: some with unique functional characteristics and others which replace metal, glass, wood and natural fibers in dozens of applications.
The future role of materials scientists and engineers promises to be even more important and challenging. It is widely recognized that the world is facing a critical energy shortage. Materials scientists and engineers are rising to this challenge in a variety of ways. One method is reducing the weight of automobiles and other transportation systems for fuel savings. They are also actively engaged in reducing the impact of modern society on our environment. They are at the forefront of recycling technologies and more energy-efficient ways of processing materials. New materials and processes are being developed to replace environmentally unfriendly ones currently in use. Sputtering or vapor deposition instead of plating, and biodegradable plastics are examples.
Materials science and engineering graduates are employed in research, development and manufacturing. They support the creation of new materials and processes or the improvement of old ones with the aim of tailoring properties to applications. Often the work involves cooperating with mechanical, chemical, aeronautical, automotive and other types of engineers in selecting appropriate materials in the design of various devices; evaluating the performance of materials in service; and, particularly, determining the causes and cures for in-service failures; as well as various kinds of supervisory, research, teaching and management activities. A tremendous range of materials science and engineering opportunities exists in metals, polymers, ceramics and electronic materials.
The undergraduate program in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan has been carefully designed to prepare students for the broad range of activities as described previously; or for continuing their academic work to acquire a master’s or doctoral degree.
Introductory courses (either MATSCIE 220 or MATSCIE 250) and MATSCIE 242, and a second-level course (MATSCIE 350) provide a foundation of basic principles applicable to all classes of materials. Other courses include thermodynamics, transport phenomena and mechanical behavior.
Two required laboratory courses give our students a working knowledge of equipment used and methods practiced in the materials industry including processing that uses thermal, chemical and mechanical methods; characterization using mechanical testing machines, microscopy and diffraction instruments; and analysis of experimental data using statistical and digital methods.
A required course in organic chemistry (Chem 210) may be used to satisfy the engineering chemistry requirement or the technical elective requirement. Introduction to Solid Mechanics (MECHENG 211) is also required.
Students have an opportunity to tailor their program of study to their own interests. They choose three senior-level courses from a group of six. These courses cover electrical, magnetic or optical properties of materials, metals, polymers, ceramics, biomaterials, and materials characterization. They also choose one additional MSE course, plus 10 hours of technical electives and 12 hours of free electives.
All engineering students are required to take 16 credits of intellectual breadth to broaden their education. One of the social science courses must be macro- or micro-economics (Econ 101 or 102).
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