A Materials Engineer
In The Making

Material engineers understand the interrelationships between atomic structure and its macroscopic properties linked to strength, durability, recyclability, conductivity, and biocompatibility. This critical knowledge is utilized to make a material useful, improve existing ones, and create new others with unique capabilities. You will learn how to enhance material performance, enabling amazing new products and technologies.

Your Discovery In The Making

At Iowa State, Materials Matter. Behind every quantum leap in technology lies amazingly engineered materials created using fundamental insights and creativity to solve real-world problems. Objects used daily represent inspired decisions to achieve purposeful functionality beyond the sum of its parts.Your educational training will help you make incredible discoveries, solutions, and impactful decisions that profoundly change lives.

student in materials lab
student heating testing wire in laboratory

Your Path In The Making

To expand your materials engineering knowledge, you will use state-of-the-art laboratory instruments, advanced fabrication and processing facilities, and cutting- edge computational tools. Our program’s hands-on learning approach will give you a competitive career advantage while developing a scientific and engineering skillset to address society’s greatest needs. Whatever your goals are, your success is important to us.

Personal attention: Building strong relationships with professors and fellow students is key to your success. Our program is designed to encourage interaction.The student-to-faculty ratio is 12:1.The average class size is 30 students, and the average lab size is 15 to 20 students working in teams of 2 to 3.

Undergraduate students have the potential to earn competitive pay while taking courses and serving as research assistants with our amazing faculty. A few of their research areas include biomaterials, biomedical engineering, energy and sustainability, aerospace, additive manufacturing, and defense.

Strong research program

Our faculty work on incredible research projects, offering you an opportunity to obtain valuable hands-on experience before graduation. Some of our research areas include:

  • Biomedical engineering: Polymer molecules are arranged and functionalized for biomedical applications like on-demand drug delivery.
  • Sustainable engineering: Complex societal problems are solved while conserving resources to achieve sustainability.
  • Soft materials: This matter includes fluids, rubbers and gels that can be engineered to be dynamic, mimicking organisms that can change their shape, properties or functionality.
  • Additive manufacturing: Novel material processing produces end-use products for aircraft, automobiles, medical implants, and even fashionable wearables with advanced functionality.

Areas of study

While students are exposed to all aspects of materials engineering, you may choose an area of specialization to fit your career aspirations. Emphasis areas include:

  • Metals: We need metals to make our world work.They make up critical parts of essentially all modern technologies. By studying the structure and properties of metallic alloys, you will learn how to tailor metals for specific applications, from lightweight metals for fuel- efficient cars to advanced metals for use in high-temperature turbines for airplane engines.
  • Ceramics: From their beginnings in clay-based pottery, ceramics are now at the very heart of modern technology, playing critical roles in electronics (computers and cell phones), transportation (batteries and cars), environmental technologies (catalytic converters) and defense (armor).
  • Polymers: The medical field uses biodegradable polymers in stitches that the body absorbs, and the automobile industry uses them to replace other materials. Most toys, appliances and recreational equipment contain polymers.They are lightweight, relatively easy to produce, energy efficient, and recyclable.


Your Career In The Making

Many of our graduates have built successful careers not only as engineers, but also as managers, entrepreneurs, sales representatives and consultants.

Our program is highly adaptable to your interests, including specialization choices (metals, ceramics or polymers) and flexible electives.

The average starting salary of our materials engineering graduates is more than $71,200/year.

Co-op and internship salaries for our students average more than $22/hour.

Approximately 1,400 companies recruit our engineers every year.

90 percent of our materials engineering students have in-profession placement within six months of graduation.