What is MatSE?


Materials Science and Engineering is an interdisciplinary study of the properties of matter and exploration of potential uses for materials.  Materials Science and Engineering draws from nearly every scientific discipline:

A MatSE student may employ:

Chemistry to study and manipulate materials at the atomic and molecular levels, and understand the ways in which substances react with each other

Biology to integrate the physical properties of materials with living systems in the creation of biomaterials

Physics to understand and explain the physical properties of materials and their practical applications

Mathematics, computation, and computer sciences to test, analyize and study materials in a virtual environment

MatSE has a broad range of applications, and provides students with a wealth of areas in which they can conduct research.

Real World Applications

The role of materials scientists and engineers can not be overstated.  Solving the big challenges of tomorrow will involve a materials scientist at some level.  

Energy and the Environment

Ceramic filters are used to filter air and water.  Electrochemistry is used to employ metal alloys and other materials to develop the advanced battery technology needed to make renewable energy and transportation alternatives possible.  Glass technology is developed to provide improved heat refraction and insulation creating efficient "smart" windows for homes and vehicles.  Polymers are used to absorb oil and chemical spills.  Composites make for lighter, more fuel effecient planes and automobiles.


None of the technology we enjoy today would be possible without materials science and engineering.  The mobile devices we rely upon are marvels of materials science, using hundreds of different materials in concert.  New polymers, alloys, glass technologies, and optical materials have been developed in pursuit of developing improved consumer goods and electronic devices.


It's no exaggeration to say a materials scientist may be to thank for curing cancer and other life-threatening diseases.  Nanomaterials are already being employed to deliver drugs directly to infected cells.  Nanomachines are for the first time able to enter a cell and be controlled remotely. Other materials are being developed for stents and implants that are more effective than current technology and require far less invasive surgery.  

Ceramics, polymers, and composites are used to create new generations of prosthetic devices. Materials scientists at Penn State have also had a key role in developing a fully functioning replacement for the human heart.  

Video: MatSE @ Penn State