About us

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What is Materials Science & Engineering?

The field of Materials Science and Engineering offers limitless possibilities for innovation and development.  

Materials scientists and engineers work on developing high-performance metallic, ceramic, polymeric, composite, nano-structured, bio- and nature-inspired materials, as well as designing new products and technologies that impart a substantial benefit to society. This is achieved through the way they positively impact the environment, improve health, increase our standard of living, increase productivity of our vital resources, enhance national security, and promote economic prosperity.  

Materials scientists and engineers are also involved in every aspect of technology, ranging from designing new materials for use in integrated circuits, transport vehicles, water purification systems, biomedical implants, and green energy generation and storage, through to developing sustainable processes and recyclable products.  In this century, sustainability, environmental impact, and the ongoing quest to improve our health and standard of living, lie at the core of materials development and application.

As technology continues to advance, there is an increasing demand for Materials Scientists and Engineers who can design better materials and more sustainable processes that meet the rapidly evolving needs of society.  This offers outstanding career prospects across various sectors, such as aerospace, transportation, defence, construction, mining, electronics, energy conversion, and biomedical science.

The School of Materials Science & Engineering

The School, founded in 1952, was one of the first schools to be established at UNSW. Over the years, it has grown to become one of the most highly ranked materials programs in the Asia-Pacific region and plays a central and major role in materials science and engineering teaching and research in Australia. Our aim is to be recognised as a world leader in research and a provider of world-class educational programs that generate outstanding graduates with the skills, attributes, and knowledge required to practice as professional scientists and engineers across all areas of industry, from metallurgy to microelectronics to biomedical fields.

Teaching programs with a strong emphasis on societal impact

As we move towards a more sustainable planet, the field of materials science and engineering is also evolving at a rapid pace. The School is keeping abreast of these changes by redesigning our teaching and research programs to place a strong emphasis on societal impact.

In 2024, we introduced revised undergraduate degree programs in Materials Science and Engineering (BE (Hons)) and Materials Science (BSc & BScAdv(Hons)).  Our Bachelor of Engineering program can be combined with bachelor's degrees in Chemical Engineering (BEngSci) and Commerce (BCom), or a master's degree in Biomedical Engineering (MBiomedE). We also offer Australia’s leading Master of Materials Technology (MMatTech) program, which can be completed in one to two years. This master’s degree provides a balance between core and elective courses, along with a substantial research project.

All of our programs have been designed to cultivate the necessary professional skills and socially aware mindset required for a successful career as a materials scientist or engineer.

A central feature of our BE programs is their accreditation by Engineers Australia, which enables our graduates to work as professional engineers and scientists in every major country in the world as our degrees are internationally recognised through the Washington Accord.

Research that positively impacts society

The School offers higher degree research programs at the master's level (MPhil & MSc) and doctoral level (PhD). We are a research-intensive School, and our staff attracts research students from all corners of the globe. Every student receives individual supervision from one or more members of academic staff, each leading their own world-class research program within one or more of the following interconnecting societal themes of impact:

  • Energy & Environment: Structural and functional materials that play a critical role in the production, storage, and conversion of energy, through to eco-friendly materials produced by sustainable processes and innovative recycling technologies. 
  • Biomedical & Health: Structural materials exhibiting specific functionality to largely functional materials that are designed to interact with biological systems for therapeutic and diagnostic medical purposes.
  • Transport & Infrastructure: Primarily structural materials used expressly for creating the means of transportation, to large-scale structures and infrastructure that are vital for carrying out our daily lives.
  • Electronics & Communications: Primarily functional materials with structural requirements used in electrical, electronics and microelectronics applications.

Our staff also lead or contribute to the following School-affiliated research centres, hubs, and institutes:

  • UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research & Technology (SMaRT@UNSW)
  • UNSW Future Materials & Manufacturing Institute
  • UNSW Institute for industrial Decarbonisation
  • The Australian Centre for NanoMedicine
  • Baosteel-Australia Joint Research Centre
  • ARC Centre for Excellence in Future Low-Energy Electronics Technologies
  • ARC Research Hub for Transforming Waste in Cost Effective Green Manufacturing
  • ARC Research Hub for Connected Sensors for Health
  • ARC Research Hub for Fire Resilience Infrastructure, Assets & Safety Advancements
  • ARC Research Hub in Zero-emission Power Generation for Carbon Neutrality
  • ARC Research Hub for Smart Process Design & Control
  • ARC Training Centre for Next-Gen Technologies in Biomedical Analysis
  • ARC Training Centre for Innovative Composites for the Future of Sustainable Mining Equipment
  • ARC Training Centre for Battery Recycling

As proud as we are of our achievements, we remain steadfast in our commitment to attracting bright minds, both as students and researchers, and to foster new partnerships with both industry and the broader community. Whether you are interested in studying the fascinating discipline of materials science and engineering or if you are a company with a specific research challenge or an interest in recruiting our graduates, we warmly invite you to explore our website and connect with us!

Professor Michael Ferry
Head of School

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