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How did you become a Materials Engineer?

How did you become a Materials Engineer?

How did you become a Materials Engineer?

To all the Materials Engineers in the group how did you become a Materials Engineer? Was your career always in materials engineering?

I have completed my masters in Materials Engineering and I'm particularly interested in metallurgy and ceramics. I have just started my career as a graduate in the pharmaceutical industry but I would love to work as a metallurgist/materials engineer at some stage of my career!

RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

I took a 4 year course in Metallurgy in high school and completed my B.S. degree in Materials Science 4 years later. Upon graduation, my first job was with a fully integrated steel mill where I received a great education in basic steel making and processing and development of low temperature steels and deep drawing steels. I went from there to a major EPC company where I was involved in materials selection for petrochemical, metals processing and nuclear fuels reprocessing facilities and to develop specifications for the purchase of equipment used therein, and to trouble shoot problems encountered in manufacturing equipment intended for those industries. To broaden my skills, I briefly worked in aerospace, principally on development of the attitude control rockets on the Space Shuttle.

With a 5 year interlude to start a vineyard in the Sierra foothills and while working to develop automatic welding equipment, the remaining 25+ years were principally involved with welding and manufacturing issues in the engineering and construction and maintenance of petrochemical, chemical and power facilities.

RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

I didn't go to school intending to study metallurgy, I wasn't sure what field of engineering I wanted to study. But as a freshman I kept hearing that the limitations in mechanical, nuclear, aerospace and so on were all related to materials. Materials was also one of the smallest schools of engineering, and being at a large university that was attractive to me.
This was long enough ago that while the department was called Materials Science Engineering, all of the classes were Metallurgy.
My education was theoretical enough that I have worked in four very different industries, and with metals and non-metallics.
In the US there are plenty of jobs available considering the relatively small number of engineers. But given that it is a rather small field the chances of finding a new job in the same location is slim (with a few exceptions). So as a result I have moved with nearly every job change. Not a bad thing but to be considered.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

I know I wanted to study metallurgical engineering when I went to college. My school offered a co-op internship that let me work on nuclear reactor vessel modeling while studying for a BS. Jobs were scarce when I graduated so I worked for a year for a couple of professors as a process metallurgy researcher. After that, I worked in railroad R&D for seven years, then switched to practical applications (primarily failure analysis) in the power industry and at materials testing labs. Like Ed, I know I will need to move if I change positions. That said, many interesting opportunities are out there as long as you look nationally instead of regionally.

RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

By making a wrong turn before 2nd year Mechanical Engineering?

Seriously though, I was always interested in chemistry. But after 1st year in Chem Eng I was facing two organic chemistry courses and decided Mech Eng was more appealing. I observed at the time that most MEs hated their mandatory Mat Sci courses; I think because the subject matter was very conceptual and could not be hammered with formulae and computer programs. I liked it for exactly those reasons. I was able to make the continuous connection between matter at the atomic scale to materials at the bridge scale. (And I could look forward to not having to wrestle with Navier-Stokes for more than one course.)

Having pondered a long time about engineers, how we think, and how our individual makeup and mental illness affect this, I have concluded this: you are in the right job when the work you do aligns with the way your brain works. And there is a lot of variation in how our brains work.

p.s., there's probably a lot more money to be made in the pharmaceutical industry!

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

By a series of fortuitous accidents.

I graduated in the early 1980's with a degree in chemistry, but had no desire to work as a lab rat and in any event the UK was in massive recession so jobs were scarce. I got an opportunity to work for a local Structural Engineer as a sort of office/site dogsbody. I stayed for a couple of years. Learnt the basics of drawing and other office based activity and spent lots of time on site measuring things and prodding old steel, concrete and timber structures. I enjoyed it.

I went back to college and did a Masters degree in Metallurgy and concentrated on corrosion. During that time I also worked for a corrosion consultant as what would now be called an intern. At the end of my masters I went to work for them on projects related to civil engineering. A couple of years later I got the opportunity to work for a big firm of global engineering consultants, that was 33 years ago and I am still there enjoying the ride. It is wonderfully varied, no two days are the same and I have worked some fantastic projects over the years. To pick up the point Ironic made, I think my job aligns with the way my brain works for sure.

A cautionary note to end on, back when I was doing chemistry I had an interest in electrochemistry and batteries. I did explore a career in battery technology. All the advice was stay away, it is a mature tech with no future. I think we can all probably agree that advice was, in hindsight, poor. I don't regret the decisions I made, just be careful with the advice you take and be wary of the crystal ball gazers, the ball is probably opaque. Best of luck.



RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

I was considering chemical engineering, when I got into higher end chemistry I decided I did not like chemistry as much as I thought. After attending a week long introduction to different disciplines in the mines and metallurgy area, I found had an interest in metallurgy. I graduated with a degree in metallurgical engineering and went to work for a steel foundry. There I was educated in the art of steelmaking in a foundry.


RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

Dear jyanscole74, you have already got your answers from our esteemed experts.

No need for me to delve into my not so significant career or why did I choose metallurgical engineering for my graduation.

But I want to shed light on something else. When I was at college almost 25 years back, we had a very young and dedicated professor who was also a die-hard metallurgist.

Few years back I went to college on the occasion of a re-union or get-together and met him. He told me this - "Metallurgy is a dead branch".

Now-a-days, guys in India are surely not into Metallurgical Engineering!


RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

While I don't consider myself a Materials Engineer, I've recently become very interested in studying it. I completed my mechanical engineering master's thesis on the possibility of alumina thickness improvement/reduction of crack propagation. I originally approached this topic from an interest in Thermodynamics/Heat Transfer, but studying alumina and its applications have been very fascinating, and I am considering pursuing my PhD to continue my research. I also took a course on MEMS, and I was intrigued by the role material science played in micro/nanotechnology. I think I've been more and more introduced to what EdStainless mentioned, "the limitations in mechanical, nuclear, aerospace and so on were all related to materials".

RE: How did you become a Materials Engineer?

Dumb luck , A high school friend said he was going to take metallurgical engineering as it was the highest starting salary ( at the time ). He said it was a mix of mechanical and chemical; I liked working with cars and was interested in chemistry . And we had to fill out some forms that afternoon about goals for college. After a few jobs, dumb luck brought me to Amoco It turned out well for me , I got to be corporate member on ASTM A1 and later on API committees 5 ( OCTG) and 6 ( wellhead) and NACE T1 F1 ( MR 01-75). A little frustrating now because all my standards are obsolete ; threw away all my ASTM books. I retired in the last century, '95.

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