Materials Science and Engineering
Safer cars, more powerful computers, better medical treatments, more comfort in the home - both in technology and in everyday life innovations would not be possible without efficient and customised materials. Materials Science is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the atomic or molecular structure of materials and their resulting properties.
What qualities are required?
As with most degree programmes in Engineering, a good grounding in both Mathematics and Physics is of great importance for Materials Science. You should be able to work in a focused manner and possess a healthy degree of curiosity.
What does the degree course look like?
- Foto: TU Berlin/Dahl
There are several paths to becoming a Materials Scientist or Materials Engineer:
Besides the degree course Materials Science and Engineering - which is from the very beginning oriented towards a future career as a Materials Engineer - there is also the option of concentrating on Materials within a Mechanical Engineering degree course. However, not all universities offer this specialisation. It is also possible to specialise in Materials as part of a degree programme in Physics or Chemistry, with a clear natural sciences perspective on the study of materials.
The dedicated degree course in Materials Science is an interdisciplinary course combining elements of Engineering and Natural Sciences – how the contents are balanced, depends on the university. The course content is typically focused on the atomic and molecular structure of materials and their resulting mechanical, physical and chemical properties.
During the first four semesters of the bachelor’s degree programme, students generally receive a thorough grounding in Natural Science, Mathematics and Engineering. Subjects include Physics, Chemistry, Technical Mechanics, Mathematics, Thermodynamics, Materials Science and many more.
After the core study stage, students select their first options according to their future professional profile. Here their knowledge of the theoretical, experimental and technological aspects of the individual material groups is consolidated and enhanced. These aspects include the structure of materials, thermodynamics and kinetics, materials testing and characterisation, production and processing, simulation and shaping, component and system behaviour or material selection and application.
Project work and internships in industry allowing students an early insight into their future professional field are generally also part of the degree programmes.
During the sixth semester, students work on their bachelor’s thesis.
Students with a bachelor’s degree in Materials Science can continue their studies with a master's degree programme at the TU9 universities.
Fields of Employment
- Foto: Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe
Materials engineers work in the field of industrial research and development, in manufacturing, quality control, technical sales and in the public service (the German Technical Inspection Agency (TÜV), the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, etc.). Positions, partly depending on the materials involved, exist in all industrial sectors as for example in the following industries:
- Transportation Engineering for cars, trains or aeroplanes (e.g. weight reduction, brake systems, turbines)
- Mechanical Engineering (e.g. wear-resistant materials, high-strength materials)
- Chemical Industry (e.g. catalysts, heat exchangers)
- Environmental Engineering (e.g. recycling, resource conservation)
- Power Engineering (e.g. solar cells, fuel cells)
- Microelectronics (e.g. semiconductors, sensors)
- Communication Technology (e.g. optical fibres, high-frequency substrates)
- Optical Industry (e.g. coated lenses, wave conductors, digital image storage)
- Medical Technology (e.g. implants, dental prostheses)
- Preservation of Monuments (e.g. restoration)
... and in manufacturing, such as:
- Mining and Metallurgical Industries (ferrous and non-ferrous metal, blast furnace mills, steel plants and hot rolling mills)
- Foundry Industry
- Surface Finishing (e.g. corrosion protection)
- Steel and Light Metal Constructions
- Building Material Industries (e.g. heat insulation, solar control glass)
- Paper, Glass and Ceramics Industry
- Synthetic Material Industry
Visit the websites of the individual TU9-universities for further information on specific study programmes:
- RWTH Aachen
- TU Berlin [German only]
- TU Braunschweig (Materials Science as a specialisation in Mechanical Engineering) [German only]
- TU Darmstadt
- TU Dresden [German only]
- Leibniz Universität Hannover (M.Sc. in Materials Cemistry and Nanochemistry)
- Karlsruher Institut für Technologie [German only]
- TU München (M.Sc. Advanced Materials Science)
- Universität Stuttgart