Saturday, November 13, 2010

Materials Science Department

This is the First in a 5 part blog post series about every single department we have at Discovery Park.
UNT's College of Engineering at Discovery Park has 5 departments, each significantly different from the other, but with a few similarities.

  1. Materials Science and Engineering
  2. Computer Science and Engineering
  3. Electrical Engineering
  4. Engineering Technology
  5. Mechanical and Energy Engineering
Today's post will be about Materials Science and Engineering. This department offers a four year Bachelor's in Science degree in Materials Science and Engineering, as well as Masters and Doctorates' degrees in Materials Science and Engineering.

I recently got to roam around this department's millions of dollars worth of equipment. In fact, I was giving a tour to a few high school students and the Materials guys were kind enough to demonstrate a few of their machines for us. Research fields in this department span a huge amount of topics ranging from nanotechnology, applications of nano-scale research in materials, medical materials in prosthetic limbs, material coatings to be used in hospital operating environments, materials used in the United States Air Force aircraft, and much much more. It's one of the hardest departments for me to describe while giving tours, but also one of the most fun. The machinery used is something you would expect to see out of a movie like Iron Man or iRobot, or at local corporate giants such as Raytheon, Bell Helicopters, Lockheed Martin, and so on. They range from Electron Scanning Microscopes, to Dual Ion Beam Microscopes, to a LEAP - Local Electrode Atom-Probe - machine:

This LEAP machine pictured out of Discovery Park is one out of only 5 in the United States. You can see on the right hand side of the picture a blurry depiction of an atom being rendered in 3-D

The order of operations goes something like this; use the Electron Scanning Microscope to seek out a piece of material you would like to examine. You can examine a material at X300,000 zoom, and see things at a level that light based microscopes cannot see. Then you can use a laser powered Ion Beam to cut a piece of the material out at a level so precise, it would be the equivalent of shooting a bull's-eye with an archery set from an airplane at 35,000 feet. Then, if that weren't enough for you (and nothing is ever enough for engineers), you take that material over to this LEAP - Local Electrode Atom-Probe - machine, and you can "scan" the atom and you are presented with a 3-D view of the object and all its properties. There are millions of combinations of applications of these machines, but this is just one example.

And this LEAP machine pictured out of Discovery Park is one out of only 5 in the United States.

With a degree in Materials Science, jobs are available in small and large companies in research, development, manufacturing, marketing, and materials design and structures. You might work in such industries as aerospace, appliance, automotive, biomedical, communication, computer, construction, forensics, manufacturing, microelectronics, nanotechnology, nuclear, oil and gas, power generation, shipbuilding, or sports.