What is Materials?
The term 'materials' broadly describes everything we use to manufacture everyday objects from cars to bridges, toys to aeroplanes.
The impact of Materials
Materials have literally shaped our society, from everyday plastics through to the advanced superalloys used in jet engines and functional ceramics that form the backbone of our electronic components. Everything that we make is based on materials in one form or another and they underpin just about every modern technological development.
The role of a Materials Engineer
When a company develops a new product or component there are fundamental questions of what to make it from and how to process it:
- Is your first priority Cost?
- Is your first priority Performance?
- Is your first priority Sustainability?
Materials Engineers provide the answers to these questions and advise on the correct choice of materials for engineering applications, determine the correct processing route and test whether the materials will meet in-service requirements, as well as analysing failed components to determine the cause of the problem and how to prevent it happening again. Materials scientists and engineers continue to expand our knowledge of the scientific properties of materials and develop new ones.
Our undergraduate courses give you the opportunity to be part of that development process and be one of the next generation of materials engineers, scientists, or business managers.
In our rapidly evolving modern world, a wide range of major industrial sectors rely on the latest materials innovations to drive them forward.
The applications of Materials
A wide range of major industrial sectors rely on the latest materials innovations, from superalloys used in jet aircraft turbine blades operating at temperatures above their melting point, to packaging materials that minimise environmental impact.
Here are some more examples of recent innovations that rest on Materials Science and Technology:
- Lightweight high strength composites moulded without seams to produce huge wind turbine blades that are stiff, strong, light and have minimal drag to get the most efficient power from wind.
- Advances in surface engineering and adhesion mean that glued joints can be used in the most demanding of applications such as cars, aeroplanes and trains, for more streamlined and fuel efficient designs.
- Materials developed to work in harmony with the human body mean ever more successful implants and replacement joint operations can be performed to improve the quality of people's lives.
- Nanotechnologies that allow electronic components to be made ever smaller, shrinking the size of every-day objects whilst improving their capabilities.
What does a Materials student study?
Materials students gain an in-depth knowledge of what things are made of, how they are made and why. This provides a great opportunity to use science and maths skills in a practical way across every industrial sector.
Engineering materials can be split into three main areas; metals, polymers and ceramics, which all feature in our courses in a balanced way, along with sub categories such as nanomaterials and composites.
Starting with the basics of what makes materials the way they are, students consider the development and improvement of new and existing materials by investigating their structure, processing and properties and how they can be used to design and make new and improved products. In their final year students do a genuine research or design project that can result in better materials and hence better products for our society.