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MSE undergrad at a C.C. seeking some information

  1. Feb 9, 2010 #1
    I'm a 25 year old undergrad, who has just returned to academia after a summer job as an iron worker - which is also the source of my screen name. Now at a community college, I've gotten myself into a "pre-engineering" program which would get me an AA and acceptance into any of Florida's universities for the major I wish to pursue, which is primarily Materials science and Engineering. While my school is able to help me with the course work I have now, none of the advisers or professors can give me any direction towards where to go with a MSE career, and what to expect for a "day in the life". Additionally, because UF, the only school in Florida that offers a MSE program, requires me to pick a specialization by the end of the undergrad degree, I'm trying to figure that out now and do some preparation, instead of simply making a random decision.

    While I grew up around computers, I found I also had a great deal of mechanical aptitude in my teens; the last real job I had was Welding. Trying to pick a major that would let me get a little of all of that was a challenge, and I had a great deal of trouble trying to pick between EE or ME. Since material science has its reach into basically everything, that seemed to be a natural step, because I like looking at little details and how it relates to the whole and being able to do a lot of testing and research for a job. Breaking things sounds like a great way to pass a work day.

    However, since I have to pick a specialization, I find myself returning back to the original problem! http://www.registrar.ufl.edu/catalog/programs/majors/materials.html [Broken] gives me the choice between Biomaterials, Ceramics, Electronic Materials, Metals and polymers, and I have not been able to find any real information about which specializations are the most in demand, have the most growth, or what not; any information I've found is about MSE in general from bls.org, nothing that grainy seems to be available.

    So, in case anyone where is already in the field, or teaching it, which would be the way to go? Which would be the most 'fun' in that I'd get to run tests; which would be marketable, and in what areas? Having moved from a very nice, metropolitan area to the hick region better known as Jacksonville, I cannot think of myself being happy here or anywhere as awful to live in.

    Additionally, since Electronic Materials looks like it would have a lot of direct overlap with EE, it makes me wonder if I should just get a bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and then go to get a Master's in MSE, or, if I should get a BS in MSE and then get a MSEE.

    I apologize for the litany of questions, but I feel I've found a place which can actually offer aid except for recommendations to just put off looking into things and making the decision.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 10, 2010 #2


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    I did piping and iron work for a few summers during my undergrad years. I was terrible with the stick, but did well with a cutting torch.

    MSE is a great area to get into, and even welding engineering would be good.

    There is demand for material scientists and engineers with various materials, e.g., steels, Ti-alloys, Al-alloys, . . . . , and ceramics, cermets, plastics, etc. Nanomaterials is another hot area.

    For metals www.tms.org is a good organization.

    For materials in generals, www.asminternational.org

    For electronic materials, try http://www.ieee.org/web/societies/home/index.html

    American Ceramic Society - www.acers.org[/URL]

    American Welding Society - [url]www.aws.org[/url]

    American Society for Testing and Materials - [url]www.astm.org[/url] - which is one of the major standards authoring societies

    There are numerous engineering societies which write standards for certain materials.

    Also - browse through this page at UFL
    UFL - MSE - research - [url]http://www.mse.ufl.edu/research/overview[/url]
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  4. Feb 10, 2010 #3
    Ah, pipe welding. I can do 5/6G, open root, stick or tig, carbon and stainless - and the best I could get in this economy was FIREWATCH! Holy cro-moly. I'm glad to be back in school. I don't mind knowing the trade, but I'd rather apply it in a more intellectual way than simply being the operator and going over the little OSHA/EPA papers that come with the rods to look at the chemistry going on.

    While I thank you a lot for the links and some leads, I was wondering if anyone had any direct experience yet - either as the hiring manager or the engineer or tech. My interests are quite broad, and narrowing them down is proving to be a challenge, though I do like that knowing more than one thing would definitely be in my favor.

    Welding Engineering would be a good thing to pursue, I think, however it would require traveling to Ohio, whereas UF is basically an hour or two away from me. Would MSE and EE give me the tools to let me do so, or if not, give me enough background to learn 'on the job'?

    I really think I either need an adviser, or some kind of internship at this stage. I like the science behind everything going on with any kind of metallurgy, or welding, or for that matter semiconductors and chip manufacturing.

    It's looking like my best bet would be to get a broad education covering the basics of everything, and polishing it off, so to speak, when I get hired.
  5. Feb 11, 2010 #4


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    I provided the links to demonstrate the diversity in materials. Each alloy and ceramic system is in demand. One has to pick an area.

    I found the introductory courses in MSE were too general. They tried to cover the general theory of all classes of materials, and they specialized on particular common alloy systems, e.g., steels. But within steels, there are numerous subcategories.

    Most of my work involves particular steels, Ni-based superalloys, Zr-alloys, refractory metals and alloys, and certain ceramics and cermets. One gets very little exposure in coursework with these materials, and most of what I've learned has been on the job.
  6. Feb 11, 2010 #5
    So much for easy outs. I guess I really cannot go wrong, though.

    Nickel superalloys look fascinating. What are Zr-Alloys like? I've never even heard of that kind of metal, but then again I've worked with structural or mechanical steels when I was a metalworker.

    What is a refractory metal? I've heard of that term being used to describe materials that stay solid to very high temperatures, such as the flux 'slag' you want to coat your welds if you're doing my namesake process or SMAW.
  7. Feb 11, 2010 #6


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    Zr-alloys are primarily Zircaloys, ZIRLO (Zr-1Sn-1Nb-0.1Fe) or Zr-1Nb-0.125O. They are used primarily for nuclear fuel structual components. Stainless steels (304L/316L forged or CF-3 cast) and Inconels (718, 625, 750, . . . .) are also used for structural components in nuclear reactors and fuel.

    Refractory alloys refer to alloys of W, Ta, Mo, Nb and alloyed with Re, Hf, Ti, Zr, . . . . Basically they are used in high temperature cores and NPPs - primarily for nuclear propulsion systems in spacecraft.

    Zr, Ti and refractory alloys oxidize quite readily so they are welding in an inert environment (TIG) or vauccum (EB/laser).

    Also, Zr and Ti are hcp metals, so they have a 'texture', preferential alignment of the basal poles, or c-axis. That can have a significant impact on mechanical and corrosion performance. Ti-alloys can also have multiple phases (α or α+β) depending on the alloy.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2010
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