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Engineering Is materials engineering too narrow?

  1. Jan 21, 2012 #1
    I recently sent in my application for the materials engineering program at McGill University. I was all set on this career path but doubt is beginning to set in. Friends and family have been telling me that materials engineering is a dead-end, that the jobs are few, and growth minuscule. They recommend mainstays such as electrical or mechanical engineering.

    What is the sense out there about materials engineering? Am I right to give it a second thought? Mind you, I do have other options. I have also applied to a few environmental and electrical engineering programs throughout Canada. Personally, I'm interested in materials or environmental but I have to seriously consider career outlook. I'm 26 and starting university in September, this is my chance escape the retail rut I've found myself in these last few years; this is my second chance and I don't think there will be third.

    Any advice would be most appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2012 #2
    I was under the impression that Materials Science, especially engineering, was highly in demand. I'm not sure about Canada, though.
  4. Jan 21, 2012 #3
    I know that, at least in Quebec, prospects for materials engineers is considered good. I think, overall, the prospects in Canada and the US are similar. This is, in part, what drew me to the field.

    The problem is that I've since been told, almost unanimously, by the people around me that it's a risky road, that it's too narrow a field and it could be difficult to find work. Better to sticks with the broader and more widely understood disciplines.

    Does materials engineering have cycles such as, say, mining is susceptible to? Through my research this wasn't clear. It doesn't seem like it.
  5. Jan 21, 2012 #4
    FWIW, I was told that by a chemical physics PhD candidate at Harvard. Not sure how much weight that has, but he tells me that aside from being a "cool" field, that it's very high in demand.
  6. Jan 22, 2012 #5
    I would think Materials Engineering would be of great value in Canada. I'm in the US, where manufacturing is a joke, so mechanical or electrical may be a safer bet. Personally, I'm in mechanical engineering working in HVAC and I've noticed that a LOT of the manufacturing of HVAC equipment is coming out of Canada. These factories are just the one example I've had some exposure to that would definitely need people with a background in materials.
  7. Jan 30, 2012 #6


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    materials science is extraordinarily multidisciplinary. materials scientists work on virtually every major endeavour: in energy, they are responsible for improving the performance of fuel cells, photovoltaics, and looking for more efficient catalysts (and ways to make them, and how to characterize their long-term performance, etc.) ... in structural engineering, they are developing lighter, stronger, tougher materials ... in biomedical studies, they are creating biocompatible drug delivery systems, and this is the tip of the iceberg.

    whoever gave you that advice is woefully ignorant.
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