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Materials Engineering


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What to Expect

Materials engineering students are learning how to create new materials from natural substances. These materials go into everything from cookware to fighter jets.

"I was introduced to materials engineering in the summer before my senior year of high school and I fell in love with it instantly," says Tiffany Biles. She studied materials engineering at Purdue University.

Looking back, she says she could have taken some other courses in high school that would have helped her at university.

"My chemistry background wasn't so wonderful and that...hurt me," Biles says. "However, I have relearned it all and it isn't so bad anymore. Physics has always been my forte, and this has put me ahead at times as well. Calculus is good. You will need it."

She says the more background you have in these areas, the easier your freshman year will be. Another thing that has made her study a little easier is the closeness of the students and professors. "Our faculty and students know each other, have wonderful relationships and have a mutual respect for each other," Biles says.

There are a couple of reasons she decided to go into material engineering. "One, it just sounded really interesting, something I'd really never heard of before. And then two, the department is very small."

Stephanie Connor says such a small department is helpful academically because professors can afford to make time for their students. She took materials engineering at Iowa State University.

How to Prepare

"Go as far as you can" with math, says Connor. Calculus, physics and chemistry are all good subjects to study. She adds that a good grasp of English is also important.

"I think that's always required, but that's still very pertinent to engineering because you have to write so many lab reports and do so many presentations that you really need to know how to communicate with others."

Whether it's consulting, research or work in the computer industry, Connor says any hands-on experience you can get is a big benefit. "Every summer that I've been a student, I've been able to go out and work with a materials engineering-related field," Connor says.


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