school placement directors for engineering, and heads of firms that emphasize advanced technology and employ significant numbers of engineers. Every expert interviewed put materials research and development at or near the top of the list. Burgeoning needs were found in areas ranging from high-performance, specialty applications to high-volume mass production.

A related development involves the current efforts of physics and chemistry departments at many major research universities to expand their faculties in materials-related areas in response to the general perception of expanding opportunities in this field.

PERSONNEL IN MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING

The rich diversity of materials science and engineering is reflected in the wide variety of educational backgrounds represented by materials science and engineering practitioners (Table 5.1). Professionals who work as materials scientists or engineers include not only individuals with degrees from materials-designated departments (including materials science and engineering, metallurgy, ceramics, and polymer departments), but also individuals with degrees in chemistry, physics, engineering, and a wide range of other disciplines. The pluralism of its talented constituencies is a major contributor to the strength and promise of materials science and engineering.

The multidisciplinary nature of materials science and engineering complicates any assessment of personnel levels in the field, but rough estimates are possible (Figure 5.1). According to a report issued by the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Scientists and Engineers: 1986 (Surveys of Science Resources Series, NSF 87–322, NSF, Washington, D.C., 1987), there were 53,100 individuals employed in the United States in 1986 who identified themselves as materials scientists and engineers and had backgrounds in metallurgy, materials, or ceramics. There were also 72,600 physicists and astronomers and 184,700 chemists employed in the United States in 1986 (Table 5.2). By analyzing the subdisciplines of physics and chemistry, the

TABLE 5.1 Educational Backgrounds of Employed Scientists and Engineers in the United States

Profession

Doctorate

Masters

Bachelors

Others

Physicists and astronomers

56

21

23

Chemists

35

18

46

1

Materials engineers

13

27

51

9

All engineers

4

23

62

11

 

SOURCE: U.S. Scientists and Engineers: 1986, Surveys of Science Resources Series, NSF 87–322, National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C., 1987.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement