Careers in materials science & engineering

  • #1
Hi All,

Could someone share their opinions and analysis on the future trends of engineering industries, such as the growing potential, job demands and salary competitiveness of different engineering fields? (EE, ME, CE, AE, SE) If you could, please be specific to the sub-discipline. (Example, if ME, then there is MEMS, Controls, Materials, Fluids, Energy, Design, etc.)

I am hoping these information can help me and others decide what discipline of engineering to pursue as profession.

Your input is greatly appreciated.

Answers and Replies

  • #2

I am 21 and I am currently a senior undergrad writing my thesis statement in Physics. I have pondered for quite some time what I want to do after I graduate and I have finally decided to go into Civil Engineering/Water Resource Engineering. Since its nearly impossible to do a Master's in Engineering after Physics BSc I have decided to apply fresh from the start as an undergrad.

So here my question pops up: If and when I get my diploma in Civil/Water Resource engineering and I start looking for work in these fields, would my BSc diploma in Physics help even a bit? If this is the case, which of those two Engineering fields deal more with Physics? My bet would be Water Resource engineering.

I've heard that Water Resource Engineers get to travel a lot in many developing countries and work on dams, channels, etc, but then I believe that the job market is not as big as it is with Civil (Structural) Engineering. I still haven't decided which of those majors i want to pursue and I have about a month time to decide. I would greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks!
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  • #3
Hi, I have a few questions about becoming a materials engineer.

1. At the moment, I'm about to start A-Levels, taking Maths mechanics, physics, chemistry and hopefully geography as well. Will this provide a good spread of subjects?

2. Also, what UK universities are best for materials engineering courses? I've heard that Loughborough and Nottingham and good, but I'd like to know if this is correct/there are others to look into.

3. Is there a specific specialisation that's a growing market and will provide plenty of opportunities over the years? I'm thinking maybe electronics or metals, but again, input would be helpful.

4. Does the have a lot of job opportunities? If so, is the a specific area of the UK that has the main share of jobs?

I'd also like to know the same about the US/Canada if at all possible.

5. Is the career fairly easy to get into out of university? Are there a lot of jobs available for graduates or are they few and far between?

6. Salary wise (yes, I know its not about the money, but I'm interested regardless) what is the maximum available?

If I worked on a project by project between companies (freelance basically), would I earn more than if I worked just for one company?

Also, are there bonuses available in the field? Say, the team you are in makes a breakthrough that can reduce costs for the company or something, would the team get a bonus, or would it just be like "job well done"?

7. As I understand, there is a fair amount of work involved in using computer programs for simulations. Do you learn how to use these programs in university, or is it a case of having to learn it from scratch as you start work?

Thanks for any answers you can give, I appreciate the help.
  • #4
Okay, I go to school at University of Waterloo in Canada.

I was wondering what is it like to have an option (This is kind like studying minor)

I want to do a minor but cannot really decide which one I want.

I heard that civil engineers are overpopulated, so waht are the things. I can do to makeself more valuable ?

Like what can i expect to do in company if I have an option in statistic, biomechanic, or international studies ?

Any suggestion related to civil engineering would be a great help
  • #5

I’m new here and found the forum when searching Google for help as I'm worrying about my degree!

I have been accepted to study Civil Engineering BSc (Hons) this year in Leeds (UK). My question is that with the degree being a BSc and not a BEng will it affect my chances of being fully chartered in the future (CEng)?

I plan upon graduation in going straight into a full time master’s degree which will probably be MSc; as I don’t think it’s possible to study a MEng after doing a BSc.

Then maybe even a PhD if it’s worth it. Without trying to sound big-headed I do think I am capable; I just messed about in college, hence why I can’t get a MEng course with my grades!

Thanks for any help and advice,

  • #6
I am a mechanical engineering major that has been working in the fire protection industry and going to school in the evening for about two years. My ultimate goal when I decided to go back to college was to become a licensed professional engineer as fast as possible. But last summer the company I worked for shut down and I haven’t been able to find a job until now.

And here’s the problem, I’ve been performing great since I haven’t been working, taking a full course load, I took a position as a tutor for calculus and physics and I’m really comfortable and happy where I am. But now I have an opportunity to go back to work and slow down my progress in school. The only reason I would consider this is it might lead to me being able to test and get my P.E. stamp earlier than if I were to graduate and then begin working. Is it worth it to work and go to school and possibly sacrifice some grades to obtain a P.E. stamp earlier in my career?
  • #7
New Engineer need help from experienced engineer
hi guys
my name is khaled a mechanical engineer and i want to be AME ( aviation maintenance engineer )
i want to guys to help me with searching on good academy in UK or USA
and with the path of licenses (Faa, Jaa or Easa) , diploma , courses or Bsc required to be AME
what is the required time and if i can take them one after one or i have to have work experiences after each one.
and if some one know egypt accept faa or Easa.
if you can tell me from your experiences about this career.
  • #8
Hello all,

I am currently an environmental engineering student in kc, mo. I got wind of the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Planning certification from a friend that works in an engineering firm. She said getting this certification will greatly increase my marketability. It is not too expensive and I have time this summer to get certified. I am wondering will it be worth it in the end?? I also would like to know of any other certifications that I could get as a student that would set me apart internship/job-wise. Anything response will help!


  • #9
Ive almost decided on changing my major from mechanical engineering to civil engineering, i decided that structures interest me more than mechanical things.

the only thing that really bothers me and is a dealbreaker is if i have to travel often and for long periods of time. I want a family and will never agree to letting my wife be without her husband, my kids growing up without me...etc

so to all you civil you have to travel a lot? i wouldn't mind traveling for a few days once in awhile, but that's all.

do any of you have jobs that are stable with minimal travel?

thanks in advance for your opinions...ill probably be switching majors within the next few days if i decide on it...
  • #10
So it's almost the time to apply for a specialization. I have two options in mind so far, one is biomedical path in electrical engineering and one is electrical or comp engineering in engineering physics, both at UBC vancouver campus. I'm not really sure what kind of career I will be able to have with each degree. Hope someone can give me some advise :D
Also that I heard engineering physics is very competitive, the people I know that want to get into that program all have 90ish averages. My average is not so great but I have a guarantee due to an entry scholarship. Is it worth it to apply for engy phys and "kill" myself with hard work? (I am not a very hardworking person, lazy from time to time.)

Any advise suggestion is appreciated!
  • #11
I am currently going to a community college nearby Syracuse University and I want to transfer into there. I didn't get the best gpa in the fall semester (below 2.0), but this semester will be about 2.5 - 3.5. Looking at 3.0 so far. I don't know if my cumulative will be above 2.5 but I want to perhaps talk to someone to show them I just had a bad semester, and I am very hard working. I've taken almost all the classes required for the first 2 years at SU already. Who should I talk to at SU? Like what position should I talk to? And do you think it's possible to be in by fall? or should i aim for the spring 2012? Any input would be beyond phenomenal. I will also be talking to my current advisor but I want an engineer's opinion as well. Thank you in advance for any help and I'll try to respond ASAP. Thank you :)
  • #12
I think I may have entered the wrong undergraduate and need your assistance assessing my situation!

I am strongly considering entering a career in biomedical engineering, more specifically as a neural engineer. However I now believe that I may have picked a horrible undergraduate program to prepare me for this research intensive field, my program is: . The program is called systems design engineering and is kind of a holistic approach to engineering, it offers courses across many disciplines of engineering along with systems and design theory.

The program has excellent faculty and is well established in the university, however it seems to me that it's focus is quite counter to my career goals. I fear that due to its generality and it's lack of disciplined scientific courses I will not be able to develop a sufficient background to be productive in research. Previous syllabus are posted here:

The program has been successful at turning out engineering scientists before, infact the chair of the computational neuroscience institute at the university is an alumni. However, upon comparing the subject's syllabus to that of programs such as engineering physics (not offered in this university), I have come to believe that the program was more of a hindered than an asset for this individual.

My final question would be: Do you think I am over looking something in my analysis of the program? How important is specialization at the undergraduate level, if one wants to build research ability? What other words of wisdom can you share for someone in my position?

...Thank You!
  • #13
Like the title says, i want to work in the structural field of civil engineering, but i have an opportunity to be an intern at a traffic engineering company. I don't have the job yet, but considering that I am currently working for a traffic engineering PhD student (making calls and getting data about preferred modes of transportation), AND that I am taking a traffic engineering elective class AND that I've conducted a traffic impact study, i think i have a really good shot at getting the internship.

my dilemna is that i don't want to get stuck in transportation, will it be tough to get a job in structural if a lot of my related experience is transportation-related? i do have structural experience as well on the other hand, I am on the ASCE steel bridge team and ASCE concrete canoe team at my school.

  • #14
I am trying to find an Internship for the spring semester b/c I have a light course load. I have a few questions.

1.) Is there a difference between emailing resumes and cover letters as opposed to sending paper copies. Is one better than the other.

2.) Say I send a resume and cover letter to a company and after a week or two hear nothing from them. Should I make a follow up phone call. How should said phone call go.

3.) I have looked at a bunch of examples and had the careear people at my school look at my cover letter. I just want your guys opinions. What are the main points employers are looking for in a cover letter.

Please answer any / all of my questions. This is my first time doing any of this so I am trying to get a good idea of how to approach this. Thanks
  • #15
I'm currently working in consulting engineering (in the U.S.) and working on my MS degree through night classes. I took 4 years off of school between graduating from my BS degree (Math) and going back to school for my MS (Mechanical Engineering). I'm realizing that I like the academic world a lot better than the construction world.

Therefore, I'm considering quitting my job and going full time for my PhD, either in Physics or Engineering, and I'm curious of what my options would be with a PhD. Could I make decent money? What career options would I have other than teaching/research? What is engineering research really all about? One thing I'm interested in is new technologies for heating and cooling buildings (the industry I work in now). Is there research in these fields going on at universities, or is it all private industry? What do engineering PhD students do for money while they are in school? Are they paid for their research?

I know these are kind of vague questions, and I think a lot of it will be cleared up over the next couple of years as I get further into the MS program, but I'm interested in what anyone has to say about it. Thanks for your input.
  • #16
Hey everyone, before I get into things, I should probably let you know something about myself. I have one semester left before earning my ME undergrad degree. Naturally, I'm thinking about the best ways to start off my career. I've had two internships, one working in power plant operations and another in HVAC/plumbing design. Of the two, I much preferred the powerplant. After I got tired of sitting at my desk, I could normally find a reason to get up and romp around the plant for awhile. I like to be 'in the field' so to speak and use my knowledge to troubleshoot existing systems. I think you get the picture, i like to be active and not sit at a desk ALL the time. I realize desk work is unavoidable in engineering, but I don't want it to be the only thing I do.

Moving on, I've been trying to identify various field engineering positions that would fit my interests. I could probably go the powerplant route but I've also thought of things like working in oil exploration/drilling, or some contracting positions might fit the bill. However, contracting does not appeal to me as much.

So, what are your suggestions for further research into "field engineering" positions? Have you worked in an area that might be considered field engineering and if so, what did you do and did you enjoy the work?

  • #17
Hi everyone, this is my first post here, I've used this website many times to review opinions and debates, but never decided to join until now.

My main thought at the moment is my future career ambitions. I'm currently a sophmore (will be junior in fall) at my local community college in Michigan. I'm majoring currently in Mechanical Engineering, and am starting Calc 3 in a couple weeks (finals this week ). After that, I only have to do Diff. Eq. and then I am finished with the math requirement for my degree. I've enjoyed math though, and have thrown around the idea of possibly teaching math at a community college like I'm at now. I enjoy the small class sizes, the hours, and it seems like a decent lifestyle. Some friends, peers, and teachers have swayed my opinion back and forth over several months, so I would like some feedback on here from people experienced in either/both fields.

Would you rather teach or be an engineer? I've had teachers that got an engineering undergrad, then went on to get their masters in math (which would be my thought and plan if I went that route). Some people have said that engineers will make more money, but I've also heard a downside to that. Long hours, higher stress, lots of responsibility for an engineer can take the fun out of an interesting career. The flip side is grading papers, speaking in front of classes, and a longer education time (time for me = more loan debt). I also have a late start on college, and I'm 26 yrs old, so I don't want to take forever to start a career.

The biggest thing leaning me toward teaching at my local community college is that the faculty have "windows" which they can select times to teach in. Most select mornings to be out early having the day to do life obligations. I would choose afternoon/evenings so I can stay up later and live more comfortably for ME. I don't enjoy getting up early (which more engineering jobs require, as I had to do in past co-ops), and I don't enjoy going to bed early (just to get up early).

That being said, also, being decent at math so far (3.97 GPA overall), how much harder will math get after Diff Eq. to get my masters?

Sorry this is so long, wanted to try and paint a decent mental image of the scenario and my contemplations. Thanks for any/all input!
  • #18
I'm interested in classical mechanics, so I'm interested in mechanical engineering or phd's in applied mechanics. I'm torn between the two, because I have yet to know which one suits me better. Can someone explain the benefits of each?
In the modern day, is being a professor in applied mechanics not that popular in comparison to other things like physics?
And also, my goal is being able to apply mechanics to real life and analyze many things. I would also like to know more abstract mechanics and theories behind it, not solely just the practical side to it. In other words, I am interested in mechanical engineering, however, it might also entail other things such as thermodynamics that I am not as interested. In general, I'm interested in analyzing everyday life problems related to mechanics.

  • #19
Effective Minor for Applied Engineering degree??

So, I've started a program in Applied Electronics Engineering, which isn't actually an engineering degree, but is a Bachelor's level Technology degree. Good mix of hands-on and light theoretical coursework (you know, basic trig-based physics and high school chemistry). However, I want a better foundation in the theoretical coursework, as there's plenty of practical courses (industrial safety, plc's, econ/ cost analysis, technical writing, programming robots, and control systems technology). I have 18 electives to use, although I'm willing to take over 18 hours. I've thought about a minor in math, computer science, chemistry, or physics.

The math minor at the college consists of Cal I,II, & III, plus three more. Pretty much, the only electives are Applied Statistics, Numerical Analysis, Linear Algebra, DE's, PDE, Vector Analysis, and Advanced Calculus.

Computer Science minor consists of Computer Programming I & II, Software Engineering, Computer Organization & Architecture, Operating Systems, & Database systems.

Chemistry minor consists of Gen Chem and Organic Chem plus 8 more hours. Electives are Quantitative Analysis, Physical Chemistry, Instrumental Analysis, and Biochem.

Physics dept. is very small at the school. Minor consists of Cal-based Physics, Modern physics, and three more. Electives are Elementary Radiation Physics, Astronomy, Classical Physics, Electromagnetism, and Quantum Mechanics.

Out of all of them, which would be the most useful and practical for my situation? Thanks a lot.
  • #20
Engineering and Entrepreneurship

Hi all

I am a former finance professional and very green engineer in the energy industry. One of my career aspirations it to setup my own small technology company. Right now I have employment with a large well respected engineering company. My objective as of now is to garner as much technical credibility as possible. I was planning on working for 10 years before trying to strike out on my own. I am currently pursuing a MS (Nuke E) and I was thinking to expand my network and get more cache go for another MS and maybe a PhD.

In terms what type of company I was thinking something the following
small scale energy systems
medical devices
environmental something

I feel each are fields where government money is an option

The driver behind this is a desire to utilize all my skills in a job. In industry there seems to be a push to pin you down and label you as a specialist and job segmentation is prevalent that you are simply a cog. I want to avoid this and leverage my finance background. Entrepreneurship seemed like the best answer but I was also entertaining the idea of consulting or business development/strategy.

Fishing for comments, I feel hybrid careers will become more prevalent but tough to navigate and find your niche

thanks in advance
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  • #21
next year is my final year before earning my bachelors of science degree in mechanical engineering (note not bachelors of engineering degree ,bs. in eng is 3 years as opposed to 5 , and the equivilant of the b.eng degree is a masters of science in engineering ),anyways ,I realized mechanical eng. is definately not for me a while ago but I decided to suck it up for now and fix it later(my grades paid for it ,my transcript is not pretty ) .I will list some of the careers I'm interested in and if someone can please tell me if it's possible to get into them somehow (graduate school or further studying even another bs IS an option ...but the less schooling i need the better...have enough debt and wasted enough time as is )...the list is
-environmental engineering
-landscape architecture (a personal favorite of mine )
-agricultural engineering
any information you can give me will be very helpfull ...I need to know there is a future in finishing this damn degree
  • #22
Hello PF, I'm wondering if anyone has information about MSE careers and fields of work. I have been doing a ton of research into the differences between a degree in chemical engineering and one in MSE, and have found a veritable plethora of information. But one thing that still stands out in my mind, is that I have not talked to an actual materials engineer.
Will I be working in a thermally insulated suit?
Can I have a desk job?
Can I work in a clean room?
Will there be an opportunity for field work or travel?
How about consulting?
What are my career choices for B.S.e vs M.S.e?
I have exhausted the web resources for various universities as well as I honestly just want to talk to people that are working: developing, researching, managing, etc.
Also is there any start-up potential? I've heard of some guys developing a surfboard material and launching a startup, is this the exception or the norm?

Any input will be appreciated by myself and others! Thanks.

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