What is Materials Science?
Materials science involves the characterization of the physical and chemical properties of solid materials – metals and alloys, ceramics, semiconductors, optical materials, polymers, and composites. Characterization is done with the intention to change or enhance the material’s properties to improve or create new materials that address an industry need.
Advanced materials play a critical role in our economy where they are used in a wide range of applications from high technology to everyday products. Materials science encompasses the study of the development and application of new materials to further innovation.
Professionals trained in materials science are sought after by many industries in the Pacific Northwest: aerospace, biotechnology, microelectronics, nanotechnology, clean energy, defense, and transportation. The materials science program at WWU teaches students a balanced understanding of fundamental concepts and principles with practical applications.
Interdisciplinary Minor Degree in Materials Science
The Materials Science minor is designed to prepare highly trained professionals ready for graduate study or employment in industry. The program focusses on fundamental principles of solid materials:
- how materials are made
- how they behave
- how their properties are measured and quantified
- how they are used in practical applications
The Materials Science minor complements major degree programs in Chemistry, Engineering, Geology, Mathematics, and Physics by providing an interdisciplinary perspective that prepares graduates to work at the boundaries between disciplines.
Students begin their studies by taking a course sequence that teaches fundamental concepts and practical skills in materials preparation and characterization. These courses are taught by faculty from several departments and involve a variety of facilities and instrumentation. Topics covered include chemical, mechanical, electronic, and optical properties; polymers and composites, engineering alloys and ceramics, semiconductors and nanomaterials; and applications of materials in modern contexts such as photovoltaics, fuel cells, microelectronics, and geomaterials.
The minor culminates with a capstone experience involving six credits of intensive materials-based research under the guidance of an AMSEC faculty mentor. The research experience is usually performed in the junior or senior year.
Careers in Materials Science
Professionals trained in materials science are sought after by many industries in the Pacific Northwest: aerospace, biotechnology, microelectronics, nanotechnology, clean energy, defense, and transportation.
A good source of information about careers in materials science and engineering is available from the Career Cornerstone Center.
For more information on careers, visit Western's Career Services.