Textile science and engineering programs are a good choice for students
with an aptitude in math and science and an interest in fabric and textiles.
"Textiles is an exciting, fast-moving and very technical field," says Gary
Moore, a professor at the Institute of Textile Technology in Virginia. "The
opportunities for rapid advancement, especially for technically-minded yet
well-rounded individuals, are rather incredible. It's actually a pretty well-kept
Textile technology, says Moore, generally includes a core of traditional
textile courses -- knitting, weaving, dyeing, finishing and fabric structure
-- along with classes in information systems, accounting, apparel production
and commercial printing techniques.
Walter Thomas is chair of the apparel and textile engineering technology
department at Southern Polytechnic State University in Virginia. He says high
school students can prepare for this major by taking college prep courses,
including math, chemistry and physics.
Nancy Kerr teaches textile science. "You must have good writing skills
and math skills. Don't neglect chemistry even if you think you'll never use
it," she says. "I can't stress too much the importance of math, English
and science skills."
Kerr says students in the textile science major take courses in English,
economics, chemistry, sociology, psychology, communications, human ecology,
program planning, implementation and evaluation.
Textile courses include textile science, textile dyes and color science,
quality assurance for textiles and clothing, textiles and apparel in the global
environment, surface design of textiles and computer-aided design.
There are different textile specializations, so check out a few programs
and choose one that fits your interests. Three of the more common ones
include textile science (also called textile chemistry), textile engineering
and textile technology.
Auburn University's program offers specializations within all three fields.
William Walsh is head of textile engineering there. He says students in textile
engineering take general engineering courses and a series of courses in the
engineering aspects of textile manufacturing and the mechanics of textile
Textile chemistry students, meanwhile, learn the basics of textile manufacturing
and the chemistry of dyeing and finishing. Students in the textile technology
and management stream take basic textile manufacturing courses and a large
number of business and management courses in the university's business program.
Expect to go beyond general classroom work. Students are required
to do senior research projects, Walsh says, and almost all do internships.
Along with tuition, there are other costs students should know about. These
include lab fees and books.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Engineers
Institute of Textile Technology
List of programs in textile science, engineering and technology
Textile Fabric Resource Guide
Cloth samples, fiber types and more