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 tiles. 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

WWII – ISU chemist, Frank Spedding, does metallurgy work with the Manhattan Project to manufacture an atomic bomb and lays the foundation for the parallel development of metallurgy and ceramics

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

1950s-1960s – Ceramics and Metallurgy begin working together and focus on a broader 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 MSE and PhD in Materials Science and Engineering

1998 – Unified bachelor’s 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, MSE Professor, wins the Nobel Prize in Chemistry

2012 – Department exceeds 200 undergraduate students for the first time