Department History

The Materials Science and Engineering Department has seen a lot of changes through the decades, and materials today matter just as much (and probably more) than they ever did before. Take a look at our rich history:

1906 – Iowa legislature mandated a new course in Ceramic Engineering at ISU to capitalize on the demand from manufacturers for ceramic drainage tile, no students came until 1907

1910 –  Milton F. Beecher becomes Iowa State’s first graduate in Ceramic Engineering and then becomes the second faculty member of the program

1918 – Ceramic Engineering is elevated to department status

1925 – Department has 30 men formally enrolled in Ceramics Engineering and approximately 50 women from other departments working in pottery

1942 – ISU chemist – Frank Spedding – developed a process for obtaining high purity uranium known as the Ames Process

1943-1945 – The Ames Process is used to produce large quantities of uranium for the what would later be known as the Manhattan Project

1947 – U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory is established

1950s-1960s – Ceramics and Metallurgy begin working together and focus on a more broad notion of materials

1961 – Metallurgy separates from chemistry as its own department

1975 – The MSE Department is formed by the merger of Ceramic Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering

1996 – Graduate degrees in Ceramic Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering are discontinued, replaced by the MS and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering

1998 – Unified bachelors degree in Materials Engineering is introduced to replace undergraduate degrees in Ceramics Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering

2003 – Hoover Hall is dedicated and becomes the new  home of MSE

2011 – Dan Shechtman wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals

2012 – The department exceeds 200 undergraduate students for the first time