Careers in MSE

Is Materials Science and Engineering Right for You?

How can we develop lighter, stronger, and more fuel-efficient aircraft and automobiles?

What new materials are needed to produce better replacement parts for the human body–bones, teeth, joints, and heart valves? What can we do to make smaller and faster computers?

If the challenges posed by these questions interest you, consider a career in materials engineering. As a materials engineer, you will develop and produce new materials for products ranging from aircraft wings to surgical tools to bicycle frames.

Because of the diversity in the field, you could work in most sectors of industry, including aerospace, transportation, electronics, biomedical systems, manufacturing, and research.

What Materials Scientists and Engineers Do

Materials scientists and engineers study the structure and composition of materials on scales ranging from the electronic and atomic through the microscopic to large structures.

By experimenting with chemicals, atoms, and minerals, they

  • invent and perfect new materials
  • find ways to make traditional materials better
  • produce materials reliably and economically through synthesis and processing
  • research what makes materials change and how to predict those changes

In the MSE Department at Iowa State, faculty have

  • made houses safer by developing a refrigerator cooling agent that uses the properties of metals instead of harmful chemicals
  • improved healthcare by developing new ceramic materials for bone implants and unique glass fibers for laser surgery

Faculty also discovered the second-hardest material, next to diamond, for use in a variety of products and they are well on their way to creating materials for the next generation of fuel cells that may one day replace the gas engine in your car.

Starting Salary

Average starting salary for recent ISU graduates with a BS degree in Materials Engineering ranks among the best within the College of Engineering at approximately $58,000 annually.

Companies We Work For

Iowa State MSE graduates are working for companies such as Caterpillar, John Deere, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin, Pella, 3M, Intel, Alcoa, Owens Corning, Boston Scientific, IBM, General Motors, Boeing, SSAB and Ames Laboratory.

Typically, 30-40% of MSE alumni pursue graduate degrees at some of the nation’s top institutions, such as University of Illinois, Purdue University, University of Michigan, Penn State, and UC Berkeley.

Nearly 100 percent of our alumni have in-profession placement within six months of graduation.