Materials sciences

Engineers in this field research modern materials and corresponding materials in order to apply new and, ideally, more sustainable technologies.

The field of study at a glance

Shark skin, bioceramics, heat shields, stadium roof structures or ultra-light car bodies – these are all topics that the engineers in materials science have dealt with. One goal in the development of new materials is to improve properties in order to optimize products, production processes or technologies in the interests of sustainability. Lightweight construction reduces energy consumption, and other new materials are biocompatible, recyclable and respond intelligently to changing operating conditions.

Materials scientists are also experts in the physical properties of time-tested materials: there are countless available to modern technology. The classic material groups include metals, ceramics, glasses and polymers. Material developments in the areas of composite materials, material mixtures, semiconductors, natural materials (bionics) as well as the so-called “smart materials”, which can, for example, independently adapt to external influences (shape memory). Ultra-modern key technologies such as nano (structure) technology are also located in the field of materials science and engineering.

Course offered

Studying materials engineering deals with the engineering aspects of the development, production, processing and recycling of all types of materials. It sets up. a. technical interest and an affinity for mathematical and scientific phenomena.

Materials science is more scientifically oriented. Here, the structural structure of functional materials (metals, polymers, glasses/ceramics, semiconductors, composites, plastics) and the resulting technical properties that allow the production of tailor-made materials with new or improved properties are investigated in an interdisciplinary manner.

But there are also courses that combine materials science and materials engineering or that already specialize in a group of materials, such as building materials engineering or polymer science.

Contents of the course

At the beginning of the course there is a broad basic training in the mathematical, natural sciences and engineering subjects. These include in particular mathematics, physics, chemistry, mechanics, materials chemistry, crystallography, materials science, materials technology, materials processing and analytical methods. Depending on the course you choose, the focus differs.

In the course of the course, knowledge of the theoretical, experimental and technological aspects of the individual materials and materials as well as their production and processing is expanded. This is done by in-depth modules that are very specifically tailored to individual study and professional interests and vary between the study programs. Depending on the course of study, elective modules enable career goal-related profile development.

Admission criteria & application for study

Depending on the university and previous education, preliminary internships may be necessary.

Career opportunities after graduation

Materials engineers are employed in industrial research and development, in manufacturing, quality assurance, technical sales and in the public service (technical monitoring associations, Federal Institute for Materials Testing, etc.). Employment is available in all industrial sectors, depending on the material. Examples of relevant industries are:

• Transportation technology, automobile construction, railways, aerospace technology (e.g. weight reduction, braking systems, turbines)

• Mechanical engineering (e.g. wear-resistant or high-strength materials)

• Chemical industry (e.g. catalysts, heat exchangers)

• Environmental technology (e.g. recycling, resource conservation)

• Energy technology (e.g. solar cells, fuel cells)

• Microelectronics (e.g. semiconductors, sensors)

• Communications technology (e.g. optical fibers, high-frequency substrates)

• Optical industry (e.g. coated lenses, waveguides, digital image storage)

• Medical technology (e.g. implants, dentures)

• Monument preservation (e.g. restoration)

Examples for the manufacturing industry include:

• Ore mining and metallurgical industry (ferrous and non-ferrous metals, blast furnaces, steel and hot rolling mills)

• Foundry industry

• Surface finishing companies (e.g. corrosion protection)

• Steel and light metal construction

• Building materials industry (e.g. thermal insulation, sun protection glasses)

• Glass and ceramics industry