MechEng Undergrad, MatSci Grad

In summary, people come into MatSci grad programs from a lot of different fields, and I definitely know of Mech E's who have done that. I'm not sure why people say ChemEng is better, but as a MatSci grad student (who also did an undergrad) I would say don't worry about the chemistry. MatSci programs vary in focus even among themselves, and some have more of a chemistry emphasis, but many have very little (such as my undergrad program). If you like chemistry, then go for organic if you want, but personally, I don't intend to ever learn much chemistry because I like the physics side of MatSci much more.
  • #1
crr14
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I'll be starting my final year of college next fall and am looking at going to graduate school for Material Science Engineering. My school doesn't off a Material Science undergrad program, and it was not what I initially wanted to go into when I started school, so I'm currently studying Mechanical Engineering. It seems like most schools accept either Chemical or Mechanical undergrad degrees, but I've seen in a few threads here where it seems like ChemEng is sometimes the recommended "next best thing" to a MatSci undergrad degree. I'm curious as to what would make a ChemEng program make it more desirable? The chemistry classes? Labs? I've got a quite a few spaces for electives coming up in the next year due to AP/summer transfer credits, and although originally I was thinking of adding a math minor now I'm thinking of taking as many ChemEng electives as possible. I was looking at adding physical chemistry to get some thermodynamics from a different perspective, organic chemistry, the intro unit operations class, and fluid flow/heat transfer for ChemEng's. Would these help my chances at all, or are there other classes you would recommend taking? Maybe statistical mechanics or intro to QM from the physics department? Thanks for any help guys.
 
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  • #2
People come into MatSci grad programs from a lot of different fields, and I definitely know of Mech E's who have done that. I'm not sure why people say ChemEng is better, but as a MatSci grad student (who also did an undergrad) I would say don't worry about the chemistry. MatSci programs vary in focus even among themselves, and some have more of a chemistry emphasis, but many have very little (such as my undergrad program). If you like chemistry, then go for organic if you want, but personally, I don't intend to ever learn much chemistry because I like the physics side of MatSci much more.

Unit operations, I have never even heard of it. Fluid flow is not that important in most MatSci and I doubt many of us know it (I don't know the first thing). Heat transfer could be important in a lot of research situations but MatSci courses won't expect you to have seen much more than the basic heat transfer equations, which I'm sure you have.

In terms of QM/stat mech, I don't think most MatSci undergrad programs require a large amount of that. So I honestly wouldn't worry about being behind there. But I would always recommend going towards the physics classes; it's easier to pick up engineering stuff on the fly than it is to skim a quantum book.

I would say take whichever classes are most interesting to you and relevant to what you think you may want to do with MatSci. If there is a semiconductor device/physics class or solid state, that would be very useful, but again, it's more about where you want to go within the field. EE may have some courses for solid state/devices/processing which would be more useful than ChemEng stuff IMO.
 
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  • #3
Very interesting, thanks for the reply! I'll take a closer look at the physics and EE stuff then, there's an EE class on semiconductors that may be helpful. I guess I was under the impression that there was a chemistry emphasis on some aspects of MatSci? But that might also be because our one MatSci type elective is taught by the ChemEng department.

On another note, any math courses that you wish you would have had going into the MatSci graduate program? I know a math minor isn't necessary for grad school, but I also thought about maybe trying to fit in a PDE's class or something (it seems like PDE's came up quite a bit in my mechanics of materials and fracture classes, but we never spent too much time on solving them).
 
  • #4
Don't take my word for it on the chemistry, I'm probably biased because it isn't what I do. It's definitely important if you want to do any kind of polymer/organic synthesis, or the biomaterials side of things, etc. There may be large differences in emphasis between programs as well. From my experience though, the solid state/semiconductor stuff is more central.

I think a PDE or general mathematical methods course is useful for basically anyone in physics or engineering graduate school. Can't really go wrong with that. I never had the chance to take one in undergrad.
 
  • #5


I can understand your dilemma and commend you for considering graduate school in Material Science Engineering. It is important to note that while some schools may accept Chemical or Mechanical Engineering degrees for a graduate program in Material Science, there are certain advantages to having a background in Chemical Engineering.

Firstly, Chemical Engineering courses typically include a strong foundation in chemistry, which is an essential component of Material Science Engineering. This includes knowledge of chemical reactions, properties of materials, and the behavior of materials under different conditions. This knowledge is crucial for understanding the composition and structure of materials, as well as their properties and potential applications.

Additionally, Chemical Engineering courses often include laboratory work, which can provide hands-on experience with various materials and their properties. This practical experience can be valuable for a graduate program in Material Science Engineering, as it allows for a deeper understanding of the concepts learned in class.

Furthermore, Chemical Engineering courses also cover topics such as thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer, which are all relevant to Material Science Engineering. These courses can provide a strong foundation for understanding the physical properties and behavior of materials.

In terms of specific courses to take, I would recommend focusing on courses that provide a strong background in chemistry and materials science, such as physical chemistry, organic chemistry, and introductory unit operations. Additionally, courses in thermodynamics, fluid flow, and heat transfer would also be beneficial. If you have the opportunity to take courses in statistical mechanics or quantum mechanics from the physics department, these could also be useful in understanding the underlying principles of material behavior.

In conclusion, while a background in Mechanical Engineering can certainly be beneficial for a graduate program in Material Science Engineering, having a strong foundation in Chemical Engineering can provide a deeper understanding of the fundamental principles and properties of materials. I would encourage you to take advantage of any elective spaces to further your knowledge in this area. Best of luck in your studies and future endeavors!
 

Related to MechEng Undergrad, MatSci Grad

1. What is the difference between Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science?

Mechanical Engineering focuses on the design and analysis of mechanical systems, while Materials Science focuses on the properties and behavior of materials at a microscopic level. However, there is significant overlap between the two fields, as materials selection and design are crucial aspects of mechanical engineering.

2. What are the job prospects for someone with a MechEng undergraduate degree and a MatSci graduate degree?

The job prospects for someone with a combination of a MechEng undergraduate degree and a MatSci graduate degree are very promising. This combination of skills is highly sought after by industries such as aerospace, automotive, and manufacturing, where the design and development of new materials and products are essential. Additionally, graduates may also find employment in research and development positions, academia, and government agencies.

3. What type of coursework can I expect in a MechEng undergraduate program?

A MechEng undergraduate program typically includes courses in basic sciences (physics, chemistry, and mathematics), engineering fundamentals (statics, dynamics, and mechanics of materials), as well as specialized courses in topics such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and solid mechanics. Students will also have the opportunity to take elective courses in areas such as controls, robotics, and manufacturing.

4. Is it necessary to have a background in both engineering and science to pursue this educational path?

While having a strong foundation in both engineering and science can be beneficial, it is not always necessary. Many MechEng undergraduate programs are designed to provide students with a broad understanding of both fields, allowing them to choose a specific focus for their graduate studies. Additionally, students can also gain experience in both areas through internships, research opportunities, and independent studies.

5. What are some potential research areas for someone with a MechEng undergraduate degree and a MatSci graduate degree?

Some potential research areas for individuals with a combination of a MechEng undergraduate degree and a MatSci graduate degree include advanced materials development, biomaterials, nanotechnology, additive manufacturing, and energy systems. Additionally, graduates may also have opportunities to collaborate with other disciplines, such as biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, and computational modeling, to address complex engineering challenges.

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