Materials Science involves the discovery of how materials work, and the synthesis and utilization of new materials which include ceramics; metals and alloys; polymers; and electronic, magnetic, superconducting, and thin-film materials. An interdisciplinary subject, materials science has an impact on many aspects of the global economy, including materials related industries involved with electronics, communications, medicine, transportation, manufacturing, recreation, energy and the environment.
The MSE undergraduate program builds upon an introductory knowledge of physics, mathematics and chemistry. The foundation of our program is the Introduction to Engineering Materials course which uses case studies of the design and function of the Bicycle and the Sony WalkmanŽ to reveal the many facets of materials science. This course is at the cutting edge of education using CD technology to provide an interactive learning environment for students. At the next level, the MSE program involves a study of the core principles of materials science which include thermodynamics, structure, bonding, and phase transformations. Armed with a basic understanding of materials, students are ready to concentrate on specific areas of interest such as polymers, ceramics, mechanical properties and electronic materials.
The MSE program emphasizes hands-on-experience and supports state-of-the-art undergraduate laboratories for teaching, research, independent study and work-study programs. In addition, students have the opportunity to utilize the outstanding research facilities of the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter which is the home of the MSE Department. A senior design project forms the capstone to the MSE curriculum providing students with the opportunity to carry out graduate-level research which is often linked to industry. Since the founding of the department 1946, undergraduates have received numerous University and national awards recognizing the excellence they have achieved in our program, and have gone on to numerous positions of national prominence.
The MSE program at PENN benefits immensely from the presence of a Materials Research Laboratory, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Our MRL is one of the largest of ten such programs in the United States. It provides facilities for chemists, engineers, metallurgists, ceramists, polymer scientists and physicists to work together in an interdisciplinary environment on the development and characterization of new materials.