What is materials science & engineering?

Michael Ferry HoS

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.

Skills and expertise

The broad objective of our various undergraduate and postgraduate programs is to develop well-educated graduates, that is, graduates with the strong technical knowledge and the basic skills and attributes required to practise as professional engineers and scientists. The desired skills are those that enable graduates to be independent investigators, self-motivated, critical thinkers, problem solvers, life-long learners, good communicators, team players, effective managers, as well as economically, environmentally and socially aware citizens.

Career Opportunities

With a UNSW undergraduate or postgraduate degree in Materials Science and Engineering, your career opportunities are vast and diverse.  If you're passionate about sustainability and the environment, you'll find yourself working with renewable energy technologies, additive manufacturing, sustainable materials processing, and recycling – making a positive impact on the planet. Your degree can also lead you to push the boundaries of technology in the construction, automotive and aerospace industries. You can even lend your expertise to forensic science, where your understanding of materials' properties and behaviour could be crucial in solving complex cases. Your degree also offers numerous opportunities in nanotechnology, electronics, and healthcare, where you can contribute to miniaturising technology, revolutionising electronics, and even developing life-changing medical devices.

Our research

The field of materials science and engineering offers unlimited possibilities for innovation and development.
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Study with us

Whether you are still in high school, considering tertiary study, changing career paths or considering undertaking postgraduate study, we will try to answer all your questions about studying in the School of Materials Science & Engineering at UNSW Sydney.
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Interesting materials research around the world

8 New Materials with Game-Changing Properties

As advanced manufacturing technologies develop, so does the work of researchers developing new materials. Some may eventually be commercialized and replace materials now being used.

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Lead zirconate titanate ceramics with aligned crystallite grains

Lead zirconate titanate piezoelectrics are important for making transducers, sensors, and other components for electromechanical applications. To expand the usable temperature range and electromechanical coupling factor, Li et al. introduce a texturing process for lead zirconate titanate–based materials. 

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Spherical ferroelectric solitons

Spherical ferroelectric domains, such as electrical bubbles, polar skyrmion bubbles and hopfions, share a single and unique feature—their homogeneously polarized cores are surrounded by a vortex ring of polarization whose outer shells form a spherical domain boundary. 

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Radical hydrogen-boron reactor leapfrogs current nuclear fusion tech

HB11 Energy is a spin-out company that originated at the University of New South Wales, and it announced today a swag of patents through Japan, China and the USA protecting its unique approach to fusion energy generation.
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Ground-up e-waste could be used to make steel stronger

Electronic waste can be difficult to repurpose, as it often consists of two or more mixed materials. Now, however, Australian scientists have developed a method of converting so-called e-waste into a protective coating for steel.
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Snail slime inspires reversible, super-strong glue

The promise of reusable sticky things, from Post-it Notes to Blu Tack, has never quite been fulfilled. They're just never quite as sticky the second time around, or the third.
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Electricity-free cooling material is inspired by camel fur

Materials stay cooler when water evaporates off of them, but once all the water is gone, the cooling effect stops. Bearing this in mind, MIT scientists have developed a camel fur-inspired material that could keep items cool without using electricity.
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Luminescent wood can light up a room

By manipulating the complex makeup of wood, scientists have demonstrated how it can be made see-through and even store and release heat.
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Corrosion-resistant desalination device can handle super-salty water

Desalination systems play an important role in improving access to fresh water, but some types of the natural resource are too salty for current solutions to handle.
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