Materials Engineering involves engineering of materials themselves; materials are designed and selected for their function in society. Materials Engineering students will learn to think in the materials paradigm, which focuses on the interrelationships between structure, properties, processing, and performance. Materials Engineers also characterize the structure, properties, and performance of materials in order to determine interrelationships.
Students who want to take Materials Engineering will benefit by developing spatial reasoning skills, the ability to visualize technical information, and an interest in small length scales and how materials fail.
Materials Engineering involves selecting the length scale of the material (from molecular or atomic, to nano, micro and macro) and by choosing the class of material (from soft to hard to composites) while integrating this knowledge through the processing, structure, properties and performance of materials.
The discipline focuses on the production and engineering applications of metallic and non‐metallic materials (polymers, ceramics, composites, electronic materials and biomaterials). Materials Engineers develop, modify, and use processes to convert raw materials to useful engineering materials with specified desirable properties. The discipline therefore includes aspects of materials production, materials processing, materials applications, and design. Materials Engineering embraces physics, chemistry and mechanics to understand processing and applications of materials.
Graduates of the program find employment in all sectors of the materials cycle. The primary sector is raw materials processing and includes such industries as mineral processing, aluminium smelting and steel making. The next sector is manufacturing and extends from the rolling of the metals to the materials engineering aspects of manufacturing products in the aerospace, automotive, electronics, photonics, and petrochemical industries. The final sector includes the service industries with such specialities as corrosion, wear, fracture mechanics and failure investigation. This sector also includes the recycling industries. In all sectors Materials Engineers are often involved with the selection of materials for use in designs, and are consulted for failure analysis.
The undergraduate Materials Engineering program, the only one of its kind in the prairie provinces, includes a set of core materials engineering courses emphasizing underlying principles and their engineering applications. With the program electives it is possible for the students to go into more depth in particular areas of interest, e.g., mineral processing and extractive metallurgy, polymer materials, structural materials, and functional materials.
Elective Streams in Materials Engineering
- Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy: Metallic and nonmetallic materials such as gold, copper, iron (steel) and ceramics are extracted from mineral resources. Mineral processing and extractive metallurgy is therefore an integral part of materials engineering and an important engineering field that contributes to Canada’s economy. The Mineral Processing and Extractive Metallurgy elective stream will introduce students to the fundamental theories of mineral processing, hydrometallurgy, electrometallurgy and pyrometallurgy, and current practices of unit operations of these processes. The graduates from this elective stream will be able to find employment in Canadian resource sectors, especially in oil sands, coal, base metal, precious metal, potash and diamond ore processing industries.
- Polymer Materials: The polymer materials elective stream is designed for students who are interested in acquiring a basic knowledge in the field of polymers: structure-property relationships, polymerization reactions and polymer processing so that upon completion of the option, they will have the knowledge to embark on graduate level research in polymer science and engineering and will be employable by polymer manufacturers and polymer processing industry.
- Structural Materials: Students completing this elective stream will be proficient in the traditional areas of metallurgical and materials engineering, i.e., physical metallurgy and materials processing. Employment opportunities exist in several sectors of Canadian industry including, but not restricted to, primary metal extraction, steel processing, oil and gas, failure analysis, automotive and consulting.
- Functional Materials: Functional materials are those which exhibit inherent properties and functions (e.g., piezoelectricity, magnetism, ferroelectricity, or energy storage). Functional materials can be in any class of material – ceramics, metals, polymers, semiconductors, or composites. Subject areas in this stream cover electronic, optical and magnetic materials, thin film materials, nanomaterials and their applications, nanostructured molecular sieves, nano and functional materials processing and fabrication. Employment opportunities exist in several sectors of Canadian industry, such as microelectronic/optoelectronic device fabrication, MEMS processing and fuel cell development.