Material engineers investigate the properties of metals, ceramics, polymers
and other materials in order to develop and assess their commercial and engineering
applications. They're a lot like detectives, investigating ways to shape and
fabricate materials. They also analyze materials' microstructures.
"My job is both exciting and stressful," says research staff assistant
"Working in research and development means I get to work on lots of interesting
projects. The downside is that I also need to write proposals to make sure
all those interesting projects continue to be funded. That introduces an element
of uncertainty into the future of my work."
These engineers use very sophisticated techniques to determine the structure
of materials: optical and transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction
and differential thermogravimetry.
Don't wait until graduation to engage in the world of material engineering!
"Be involved with material activities through school and material societies,"
says engineer Jennifer Borowski. "Try to get an internship, co-op or research
According to the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, the majority of
materials engineers seeking their first job after graduation will find work
in the manufacturing sector, frequently in companies employing over 5,000
workers. Other areas most open to new job seekers are research and development
and sales and service. Management and consulting functions become more common
as material engineers' career lives mature.
This field of engineering keeps you busy. Viswanathan's workweek usually
tops out between 45 and 50 hours. Material engineer Bob Stevens' week looks
similar -- about 50 to 60 hours: "This is getting to be the norm in the technical