Materials Engineers

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Also known as:
Automotive Sheet Metal Engineer, Ceramic Engineer, Forensic Materials Engineer, Glass Science Engineer, Metallographer, Metallurgical Engineer, Metallurgist, Welding Engineer

ABOUT MATERIALS ENGINEER CAREERS
Video transcript

From lightweight metal bike frames to ceramic tile on the space shuttle, innovations that make products last longer and work better are due in large part to the work of materials engineers. Often called a "materials person" in the industry, this inventor plays a key role in the manufacture of any product. Presented with a plan for the item, he or she explores how to make it in the lab.

Sometimes this involves creating a new material by manipulating the atomic and molecular structures of substances. The new material and its application are tested repeatedly, with every outcome recorded and analyzed until the product meets design goals. Then this engineer plans the most effective process for making the newly invented materials in a factory.

Materials engineers are found in many industries, and usually specialize in a specific area, such as metals or electronics. Entry-level positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited engineering program. However, many jobs require master's degrees and doctorates. This job is multi-faceted - part inventor, part scientist - and all problem solver.

SNAPSHOT
Evaluate materials and develop machinery and processes to manufacture materials for use in products that must meet specialized design and performance specifications. Develop new uses for known materials. Includes those engineers working with composite materials or specializing in one type of material, such as graphite, metal and metal alloys, ceramics and glass, plastics and polymers, and naturally occurring materials. Includes metallurgists and metallurgical engineers, ceramic engineers, and welding engineers.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
LOW
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
MED
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
MED
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Design processing plants and equipment.

Present technical information at conferences.

Supervise production and testing processes in industrial settings, such as metal refining facilities, smelting or foundry operations, or nonmetallic materials production operations.

Write for technical magazines, journals, and trade association publications.

Replicate the characteristics of materials and their components with computers.

Evaluate technical specifications and economic factors relating to process or product design objectives.

Plan and evaluate new projects, consulting with other engineers and corporate executives as necessary.

Monitor material performance and evaluate material deterioration.

Perform managerial functions, such as preparing proposals and budgets, analyzing labor costs, and writing reports.

Modify properties of metal alloys, using thermal and mechanical treatments.

Solve problems in a number of engineering fields, such as mechanical, chemical, electrical, civil, nuclear, and aerospace.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
TOP SKILLS
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Science Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Mathematics Using mathematics to solve problems.