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metals with hands

What is Materials Science and Engineering?

We study and improve existing materials and help develop new ones to meet the demands of a fast-changing, technology-driven world. From quantum and nanomaterials to metal alloys and ultra-high temperature ceramics, materials scientists and engineers help build the world.

Our graduates work in fields as diverse as fiber optics, medicine and pharmaceuticals, oil and gas production, metalurgy, semiconductors, cosmetics, failure analysis, patent examination, equipment design, quality assurance, technical management, sales and marketing, product development — and many more. 

Our department

We offer bachelor of science, master of science, master of engineering, and doctoral degrees. In addition to receiving a first-rate technical education, our undergraduates develop outstanding leadership and communication skills through our Engineering Communications Program.

Graduates accept positions in a wide range of industries including automotive, aerospace, and materials manufacturing. More than 50 percent of our students do at least one internship, and we provide opportunities for international experience in China, Germany, and Switzerland. Students get hands-on laboratory experiences, a close-knit environment, and opportunities to attend national competitions.

Our faculty and technical staff have combined expertise in development, manufacturing, characterization, testing, and application of ceramic, metal, polymer, composite, and microelectronic materials systems. They have worked extensively with companies ranging from aerospace and automotive to chemical and biomedical, from nuclear fuels, energy generation, and petroleum products to heavy equipment and defense industries.

Our department has facilities on campus in Holden, Hancock, Randolph, Torgersen, and Whittemore halls, as well as the Kroehling Advanced Materials Foundry off Plantation Road in Blacksburg.  

Our mission

We will lead the multidisciplinary efforts of the College of Engineering, the University, and the Commonwealth of Virginia in the field of Materials Science and Engineering through our programs of undergraduate and graduate education, research, and continuing education. We are committed to the excellence of faculty members, staff, and students.

Our goals are to:

  • lead innovative, quality educational and research programs in all aspects of Materials Science and Engineering
  • provide a supportive learning environment in which to teach disciplinary competence and the skills required to live and work in a complex technological society
  • provide educational programs, research discoveries, and engineering services that support and expand the local and global economy and improve the quality of life.
  •  provide outreach services through distance learning and "in-person" programs in collaboration with industry and other institutions of learning in the Commonwealth
  • expand the knowledge base of the materials discipline and educate society with regard to the effective and responsible use of materials