This program is designed to prepare graduates to work in the R&D industry either as an engineer with an understanding of business or on the business side with an understanding of engineering.
Why Materials Technology is a great career choice
The Business of Massachusetts is Technology
The U.S. is more and more dependent on the strength of its technology to maintain its leadership position in the world. This is good news for Massachusetts because this has been a great strength of the area since the textile industry revolutionized the world of manufacturing 150 years ago. In recent years much of that strength has gone into the development of computer hardware and software. However, this wheel of growth keeps turning and new businesses must replace the previous ones.
Three examples show where we are going next.
Nanotechnology is the new science of matter at the scale of about 10 atom diameters, bigger than molecules and smaller than dust particles. At this level, the surface of an object is more important than the interior. Just as an elephant cannot walk on water but a gnat can, the rules change as objects become smaller. In developing the materials and devices based on these new rules, Massachusetts ranks second nationally, just after California. The industry employs 166,000 people in the state with an average salary of $70,000 to $80,000 (according to the John Adams Innovation Institute report on Nanotechnology).
Biomaterials are the implants and equipment that make possible surgeries such as hip and knee replacement, and the repair of coronary arteries. We can give hearing to congenitally deaf people and sometime soon may give sight to the blind. Boston, Minneapolis, San Francisco and San Diego are the key centers for these developments. Biotechnology is leading to new families of drugs based on proteins made by human and animal cells. Unlike synthetic drugs, we expect them to be very specific with few side effects. Massachusetts is the world leader in biotechnology with 275 companies and about 26,000 employees (see www.massbio.org). The growth rate is about 10 percent per year -- a rate that is significant for new graduates because this is where they will find their jobs.
What companies are these? Some firms are large, such as Cabot in nanotechnology, Genzyme in biotechnology, or Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson in medical devices. Most of the employment can be found in small companies performing the initial research and development. Many of the employees are scientists and engineers but the majority of workers bring other skills such as accounting, marketing, quality assurance, and human resources. Working for these small firms requires a comprehensive, contemporary education. All who are involved in products that literally impact a person's life must understand how a product works. The Materials Technology program offers this combination of technology and business.
New Materials lead new technology
New materials have been the basis for most of the changes in human culture. Materials engineering is a bridging link that takes the results of new chemistry and physics and delivers them in a useful form to the other branches of engineering. New materials makes possible things we don't have yet, and give the long view on technology. Interest is shifting now from harder, stronger materials to new soft, flexible materials that will allow us to bring engineering and biology closer together. We are developing new plastic semiconductors for light; flexible video display; artificial muscles to make more humanoid robots; artificial organs that combine human cells with plastic supports; and textiles that are as sensitive and responsive as skin.