What is materials science and engineering?

Materials science and engineering is the synergy of physics, chemistry, and engineering, which allows us to produce and invent even strong, lighter, more versatile materials enabling our modern lives—without it, there would be no smartphones, solar panels, or lightweight bicycles.

The science of materials is the knowledge of solid-state physics, organic and inorganic chemistry, all applied to understand the relationships between material structure and material properties, giving us ceramics, metals, plastics, glass, semiconductors, and hybrid/composite materials.

The engineering of materials is the application of materials science to producing exciting new advancements in technology. There is no engineering without tailoring the properties of materials destined for end-use in devices/(building) structures/vehicles.

Materials have been in the core of humanity since the beginning of human civilization—historic time periods are named after materials—the Stone Age and the Bronze Age, for example—or advances in materials technologies. Much of our modern lives demands the expertise of materials engineers to meet pressing needs of society with cutting-edge technology: alternative energy, food & water scarcity and safety, greener urbanization, sustainable development etc. As materials scientists/engineers, throughout our education, we develop an understanding and capability to manipulate matter at atomic-nano-micro levels to control material properties at the macro scale.

Where can you work with a degree in MAT?

A degree in MAT prepares you for a career in both industry and academia. A MAT major forms the link between materials design/processing and product design. It is also frequently places you at the pivotal interface of multiple disciplines. Possible sectors are:

  1. Aerospace
  2. Automotive
  3. Mass manufacture
  4. Oil and gas
  5. Energy
  6. Pharmaceuticals
  7. Telecommunications
  8. Nanotechnology and engineering

A few sub-fields are:

  1. Biomedical research
  2. Textile industry
  3. Composite materials
  4. Sustainable energy
  5. Nanomaterials
  6. Construction materials
What are the goals of the MAT education at Sabanci University?

We in the MAT program are passionate about providing our students with the theoretical and practical skills necessary for understanding and designing engineered materials for applications in advanced technology of high environmental and societal impact. Addressing a broad spectrum of interests, from rheology of cement to materials for alternative energy, we, the faculty members of the MAT program, position our output as critical connections between science/technology and industry.

How do you achieve these goals?

To be an effective materials scientist or engineer, you want to have the best-equipped toolbox on your adventure. We provide you stellar tools via a challenging, bullet-proof curriculum, custom-tailored to your interests and career goals. Our secret sauce is offering practical, hands-on training experience early on in your undergraduate education. For most MAT undergraduate students, their most memorable lessons are project-based, learned when they start working in laboratories as 2nd year, sophomores in undergraduate research projects. This classroom shows them how to apply the theoretical knowledge that they see in classes, and such lessons are the ones best remembered. Our students typically secure a challenging summer internship abroad after their junior year, thanks to the competitive advantage this education program has provided them.

We offer a state-of-the-art research environment through well-equipped advanced research centers and laboratories, such as the Materials Characterization and Materials Synthesis Laboratories. Students of MAT also have access to the Composite Materials Excellence Center and the Sabancı University Nanotechnology Research and Application Center (SUNUM), which hosts Micro/Nano Fabrication (Clean Room) and Electron Microscopy & Spectroscopy Laboratory.

What is expected of a MAT major?

The performance of current devices/tools/vehicles can be enhanced through improving materials. For instance, the most important problem in renewable energy is not the scarcity of the sources, but rather storage of the collected energy, which translates into a need for more efficient/higher capacity battery systems. MAT engineers are expected to design better performing materials and processes to synthesize and/or process these materials. Testing and characterization (e.g., mechanical, thermal, and chemical) are also crucial in the path to deliver high quality materials.

“I do not like chemistry” or “I do not like physics”, but “can MAT still be the right choice for me?”

While MAT necessitates a good understanding of physics and chemistry, it is not chemistry or physics. In SU MAT, after you learn the basic (science) tools, you can focus on developing your engineering toolbox—using state-of-the-art software for simulation and analysis, or producing manufactured materials with cutting-edge techniques, such as composites, cement, etc. The crucial point is to learn how to manipulate matter at atomic, nano-, and micro-scale, ones where the design, most of the time, requires tailoring interactions between atoms, surfaces, and interfaces.

What is the difference between MAT and metallurgy?

Materials science and engineering encompasses all kinds of materials, and metallurgy is just one important branch of materials focusing on the production and forming of metals. At SU, we focus on polymers, ceramics, and composites; bulk metals are not in the scope of the program.