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What is the Materials and Manufacturing Industry?

Do you want to develop the material used in spacesuits, or study chemical reactions within emerging materials? Do you want to develop stronger construction materials, or study the environmental impact of materials? There are many engineering pathways toward careers in this exciting and always evolving sector.

Majors that Could Lead to Materials and Manufacturing Careers

Students interested in materials and manufacturing careers could start their career paths through several majors offered by the Texas A&M University College of Engineering.

See below for a list of some of our majors that could lead to a materials and manufacturing career.

  • Aerospace engineering: Students take courses in materials science and structures that can be applied to the development and function of materials and properties that are designed for aircrafts, spacecrafts, etc. The goals of these skillsets are rooted in safety and efficiency in performance.
  • Biological and agricultural engineering: Biological and agricultural engineers design equipment and systems for the production, preservation, storage and transportation of food, fiber and fuel crops.
  • Biomedical engineering: Biomedical engineers may be called upon in a wide range of capacities: to design instruments, devices and software; to bring together knowledge from many technical sources to develop new procedures; or to conduct research needed to solve clinical problems. Our students are trained to be prepared for various industries, including medical device design, analysis, marketing and utilization and medical device regulation.
  • Chemical engineering: Chemicals are often used in the manufacturing process, and chemical engineers can work to improve those processes and create new, more effective ones, saving companies money. The manufacturing process often creates waste products that can cause pollution to the local environment, and chemical engineers can work to reduce or prevent this pollution. Chemical engineers who work in this sector typically perform research and development of the chemical reactions necessary to develop new materials and products. They also analyze the properties of various materials and work to understand the changes in atomic properties as a material changes its structure. A chemical engineer in the material industry may also study polymers and their chemical and statistical thermodynamic properties.
  • Civil engineering: Civil engineers specify, design and manufacture needed materials by using advanced manufacturing technologies to build and support society's infrastructure. Engineers use material science to improve construction materials such as asphalt and Portland cement concrete and steel and fiber-reinforced concrete.
  • Computer engineering: Students gain valuable knowledge and skills surrounding the topic of automation for manufacturing, which is an important area of focus within the materials and manufacturing career field.
  • Computer science: Intelligent machines involved within the materials and manufacturing industry require algorithms and programming written by computer scientists. They are highly sought after in the 3D printing industry to develop more user-friendly software that would allow materials engineers to design and manufacture better products.

  • Electrical engineering: Electric machinery is used heavily within the materials and manufacturing career field, and electrical engineers are needed to develop and improve these tools. Electrical engineering degrees also provide expertise in power control and power electronics, another very useful skillset that can be used in materials and manufacturing.
  • Electronic systems engineering technologyProduct testing is a vital work area within the materials and manufacturing career field. Students in this degree will learn how to carry out this responsibility, ensuring that products are safe to use before being released into the market. They will also learn to conduct statistical analyses of manufacturing processes, which is essential in materials and manufacturing.
  • Environmental engineering: Environmental engineers are involved in anticipating the potential impact of new materials and determining alternatives that are advantageous to the advancement of materials and manufacturing. Equally important, they also ensure that unintended consequences are prevented.
  • Industrial and systems engineering: Industrial engineers help create new materials through 3D printing technology and advanced manufacturing. They optimize manufacturing centers and save companies time and money.  
  • Industrial distribution: Some of the responsibilities of industrial distribution majors fall within technical sales and service and operations of industrial products with industrial and construction manufacturers. Distribution channel management and development for manufacturing are two other areas of materials and manufacturing in which industrial distribution expertise is needed.
  • Manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology: Skills in manufacturing and mechanical engineering technology are needed in design and fabrication of products, strength of materials, 3D printing, welding and computer-aided design.
  • Materials science and engineering: Materials engineers are focused not only on developing new materials, but also developing low-cost and effective ways to process and make known compounds. All manufacturing processes touch on some element of material science engineering.
  • Mechanical engineering: Mechanical engineers are needed to help in many ways, such as process development and optimization, waste reduction, automation and machine design, development and/or use of new materials, and instrumentation and quality control systems. Additionally, students in this major commonly work in manufacturing operations management. 
  • Multidisciplinary engineering: With a strong interdependence among all stages of the overall materials cycle, it is necessary for an interdisciplinary engineer to consider the effects of technological changes on the complete system of the materials cycle. These effects include energy consumption and environmental quality. Interdisciplinary majors are needed to improve efficiency, drive up effectiveness of manufacturing, maximize quality control, and reduce cost while making products more attractive. Other areas of responsibility may include manufacturing technology; engineering sciences; management science; and optimization of complex processes, systems, or organizations. 
  • Multidisciplinary engineering technology: Smart manufacturing, cyber manufacturing, automation and industrial robotics are common areas of focus for multidisciplinary engineering technology majors within the materials and manufacturing career field.
  • Nuclear engineering: Nuclear reactors are made of materials that must withstand very harsh environments, and the microscopic structure of these materials will help determine how reactors survive in these environments. The manufacturing processes used to synthesize these materials will ultimately control the resulting microstructure that makes these materials tolerant to radiation, so it is important that the expertise of nuclear engineers is involved in the materials and manufacturing field.
  • Ocean engineering: Those with a background in ocean engineering determine which materials to use in marine applications, so that marine corrosion is minimized and the life of systems operating in the ocean is extended. Additionally, ocean engineers and naval architects are key in the manufacturing of ships, submarines, coastal protection structures, offshore structures, undersea pipelines, subsea structures, hopper and cutter suction dredges, and small crafts.