What is Materials Science?

Updated: Apr 18

Written By: Saniya Kalamkar

Materials science is an interdisciplinary field concerned with use of materials and is crucial to every aspect of life. Materials scientists study and create materials such as polymers, composites, metals, and plastics. They often analyze those existing materials on an atomic level to combine, create, or strengthen materials for a larger purpose.

Materials science is also a broad field, with many varied applications. They are used in everything from transportation, construction, nanotechnology, energy, aerospace engineering, among others. For example, materials scientists could work in the automobile industry by creating the materials of a car and ensuring safety and better gas mileage. On the other hand, materials scientists could also work in the biotechnology industry and work on artificial skin grafts to help burn victims heal faster. Materials scientists are even working on repairing shattered bones using polymers.

As the field of materials science is very diverse, so are the job options. Popular jobs in the materials science field include CAD technicians, who create design plans using CAD software for products and parts in manufacturing and engineering. There are also metallurgists who specialize in metals such as steel and aluminum. They focus on metal extraction and processing for commercial use. Meanwhile, product engineers design products and are responsible for the products’ manufacturing process. Quality engineers ensure that the products sold by a company meet government and industry standards and have to rely on their technical knowledge of materials to spot sub-quality work. Product and process development scientists work to improve efficiency in manufacturing, often attempting to find new ways to manufacture products.

Materials scientists typically find work in laboratories or offices, with most employers creating products related to materials such as metal, rubber, and ceramics. Materials scientists often analyze materials with the use of computer software and modeling, so programming and data analysis skills are necessary. In addition, materials scientists need to have a deep knowledge of math and science, so an understanding of physics, chemistry, and engineering concepts are needed. To get a head start in this field, high schoolers should take many science courses, especially physics, chemistry, and biology. Computer science classes and advanced math classes would also be beneficial.

Materials science is a field that can impact the common person on a macroscopic level and in every aspect of their daily lives. And with the overall growth of technological fields, materials science is growing rapidly in popularity and is increasingly in demand.

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