Change of Major from Mechanical Engineering to Material Science

In summary, the department told me that no quantum mechanics background is required, as that is not a fundamental course that will be taught in the graduate class. Material Science and Engineering may have more opportunities than Mechanical Engineering, but it is important to research the field further before making a decision. There are many opportunities in Materials Science and Engineering, but it is important to research the field further before making a decision.
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Hello guys,
I received an admit to grad school for Mechanical Engineering, where my focus was initially Thermo-Fluids . I've also enquired about the Material Science department at the University(in the USA), and they are willing to let me transfer to the Material Science department provided I take an introductory course in my first semester, but they're primary focus is on electronic materials and devices.
I find the field interestingh overall, but is it advisable to switch to solid state and electronic materials since my undergraduate degree is in Mechanical Engineering(From India)?
The department told me that no quantum mechanics background is required, as that. Is one of the fundamental courses that will be taught in the graduate class.
Are there more opportunities in Material Science? A lot of jobs seemed primarily in Wafer Fab and walking in white suits in cleanrooms.
I'd like to know what's the opinion on this change .
Especially from guys working in semiconductor processing, manufacturing or fabrication industries.?
 
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  • #2
Will you be going for a Master's or PhD? Where do you plan to work afterwards (US, India, elsewhere)? Is it actually just Materials Science or Materials Science and Engineering? Will the courses cover only electronic materials, or traditional metallurgy, e.g., as well?
 
  • #3
CrysPhys said:
Will you be going for a Master's or PhD? Where do you plan to work afterwards (US, India, elsewhere)?
I'm going for a Masters right now. I do plan to work in US for a couple of years, and then decide whether I want to go further for a PhD.
 
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It
CrysPhys said:
Will you be going for a Master's or PhD? Where do you plan to work afterwards (US, India, elsewhere)? Is it actually just Materials Science or Materials Science and Engineering?
It's Material Science and Engineering .
 
  • #5
CrysPhys said:
Will you be going for a Master's or PhD? Where do you plan to work afterwards (US, India, elsewhere)? Is it actually just Materials Science or Materials Science and Engineering? Will the courses cover only electronic materials, or traditional metallurgy, e.g., as well?
There is a course in metals and ceramics that I can choose.
The fundamental courses are
1. Introduction to Material Science (which I plan to take this semester as part of my mechanical engineering class), Then,
2.Quantum Mechanics for Material Science, 3.Magnetic,Optical and Electronic Materials and 4.Materials Characterization.
 
  • #6
drude said:
There is a course in metals and ceramics that I can choose.
The fundamental courses are
1. Introduction to Material Science (which I plan to take this semester as part of my mechanical engineering class), Then,
2.Quantum Mechanics for Material Science, 3.Magnetic,Optical and Electronic Materials and 4.Materials Characterization.

And
5.Thermodynamics of Materials as well
 
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Will the masters program include a research project or master's thesis, or just course work? Is it a one or two year program?
 
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It's a 2 years program. It willl include a master's thesis and research.(that will be the option I take whether I'm sticking with Mechanical or transferring to Material Science)
 
  • #9
OK. If you do pursue a Masters in Materials Science and Engineering, I recommend that you take the optional course in metals and ceramics to get more general background. Here would be some opportunities for you that I am familiar with:

(1) Wafer fabrication (e.g., thin film deposition, lithography, and etching)

(2) Device fabrication (e.g., mounting a chip on a header and bonding lead wires onto a chip)

(3) Device packaging (e.g., fabricating a laser assembly with a laser chip on a header, electrical leads, lens, optical fiber pigtail, and optical coupler)

(4) Device package cooling (e.g., some high-power semiconductor electronics and lasers use gaseous or liquid cooling modules)

(5) Electrical and optical interconnects (e.g., high-density connectors for integrated circuits, connectors for printed circuit boards, connectors for electrical wire and cable, and connectors for optical fibers)

(6) Analysis and characterization. If you develop expertise in various methods of analysis and characterization (e.g., optical microscopy, electron microscopy, X-Ray diffraction, ...), you can find opportunities in the electronics and optical industries. Since the apparatus is very expensive, there are opportunities with independent test labs. In addition to characterizing production samples for quality control, you do failure mode analysis for failed devices. If you want to branch out, some test labs perform forensic analysis (such as when a train derails or an airplane crashes or a bridge collapses).

Several of the options would leverage your background in mechanical engineering. Depending on the level of responsibilities you want, you can decide whether to stop with a Master's or continue to a PhD. If you are interested in math, you can take courses in probability, statistics, and modeling, and specialize in quality control and reliability later. You can also later branch out to other fields such as biomedical implants, that would leverage mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering (I'm not addressing more traditional fields such as engines, that you are probably already aware of).
 
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1. What is the difference between mechanical engineering and material science?

Mechanical engineering focuses on the design, development, and maintenance of mechanical systems, while material science is the study of the properties and behavior of materials. Material science is a more specialized field, with a focus on the structure, properties, and processing of materials.

2. Can I still use my mechanical engineering degree if I switch to material science?

While the two fields have different focuses, there is still overlap between them. Many concepts and skills learned in mechanical engineering, such as problem-solving and design principles, can still be applied in material science. Additionally, having a diverse background in both fields can make you a more well-rounded engineer.

3. What types of jobs can I get with a degree in material science?

A degree in material science can lead to a variety of careers, such as materials engineer, research scientist, quality control specialist, or product development engineer. Industries that commonly hire material science graduates include aerospace, automotive, electronics, and manufacturing.

4. Will I have to start over if I change my major to material science?

This depends on your specific university and the requirements for each major. In some cases, you may have already completed courses that can be used towards your material science degree. It is important to speak with an academic advisor to determine the best course of action.

5. How will changing my major affect my graduation timeline?

Again, this will vary depending on your university and the number of credits you have already completed. It is possible that changing majors may add some additional courses to your degree plan, but it is also possible that you may be able to complete your material science degree in a similar timeline as your original major. It is important to discuss this with an academic advisor to create a plan that works for you.

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