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Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s: Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials
single investigator to synchrotron radiation facilities serving large numbers of scientists and engineers; they are needed for analysis and for synthesis and processing of materials.
The United States is a leader in the creative use of computers to solve research and engineering problems. Materials science and engineering can be advanced by exploiting this leadership in several areas, from the calculation of electronic-based structures, through simulation of nonequilibrium processes, to real-time monitoring and control of processing. The committee concludes:
Progress in the four elements of materials science and engineering can be enhanced through increased R&D on and use of advanced instrumentation ranging from the laboratory-bench scale to major national user facilities, and through increased emphasis on computer modeling and analysis of materials phenomena and properties based on the underlying physical and chemical principles.
The practitioners in the field come from materials science and engineering departments as well as from various disciplinary backgrounds, including physics, chemistry, and allied engineering fields. Chapter 5 asserts that educating students for careers in materials science and engineering requires a recognition of both the diversity and the coherence of the field.
Many students are immediately employed after receiving a bachelor’s degree from a materials-designated department (e.g., a department of materials science and engineering) or from a chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, or other department. Materials science and engineering departments are increasingly emphasizing the four basic elements of the field—synthesis and processing, structure and composition, properties, and performance—to teach a unified approach to all materials at the undergraduate level. The annual production of bachelor’s degrees from materials-designated departments is currently about 1000 per year, a figure that has changed little since the 1970s.
Graduate education in materials science and engineering is provided by a diversity of academic departments or divisions, including solid-state physics and solid-state chemistry, polymer physics and polymer chemistry, and engineering, in addition to materials science and engineering and occasionally still other fields such as mathematics or computer science. The annual production of doctorates from these programs is currently just under 700, again about the same as that in the 1970s.
Thus the production of specialists in materials science and engineering has remained essentially constant in the face of greatly increased needs and