Materials Engineers make a unique contribution to the design of new devices, products or components, and they make existing ones work better by improving or altering the properties of the materials involved.
Materials engineers also work as metallurgists, plastics engineers, ceramists, adhesive scientists, process and quality control engineers and corrosion or fracture engineers. They work in a range of industrial activities, including manufacturing, processing and recycling, and select and design materials for:
- Aerospace vehicles
- Ground transportation systems
- Automotive industry
- Solar energy and battery devices
- Biomedical implants and opthalmic devices
- Tissue engineering and drug delivery
- Information and communication systems
- Electronic and magnetic devices
- Optical and opto-electronic components.
The ability to actually engineer, or create, materials to meet specific needs is only just being realised. Improved processing and characterisation equipment such as the Australian synchrotron, mean the possibilities are endless, and key to almost all advances in aspects of manufacturing and engineering.
Careers in materials science and engineering
The expertise of materials engineers is required in many areas:
- Conservation of energy and recycling
- New biomaterials to image disease and heal the body
- Novel electro-optic polymers that allow greater amounts of information storage
- Lightweight metal alloys in cars to conserve energy
- New magnetic materials
- Materials for energy storage such as fuel cells
- Functional materials made on the nano scale to reduce costly corrosion
The result for materials engineering graduates is overwhelmingly positive as unprecedented job opportunities continue to outstrip supply.