In order to specialise in specific types of materials, students can choose between two majors. The major Metal Science and Engineering focuses on metals with emphasis on understanding and developing innovative, light metals used in constructions where these metals have to fulfil increasingly stringent safety requirements. Both optimisation of the chemical composition (alloy formation) and processing are discussed in detail. Ceramic materials are also highlighted. The concept of sustainability is addressed. On the one hand, the student will acquire knowledge to understand why a material deteriorates and how surface engineering can increase its life span. On the other hand, the student will learn to process metals from secondary sources, such as scrap or e-waste, and will understand that metals can be produced that are equally performing as metals produced from primary raw materials (ores).
Further, emphasis is put on modelling. The student will become familiar with the available options to simulate the material properties and their evolution and subsequently will learn to adequately interpret the outcome of these simulations.
The major Polymers and Fibre Structures focuses on polymers, especially on fibre based structures. Polymers are the main raw material of fibres, next to ceramic and mineral ones. The programme covers the materials and their physical, chemical and mechanical processing and treatment. Emphasis is put on the technology, the behaviour of the fibres and yarns during processing and the fundamental properties of the structures. By providing a physical or chemical after treatment to textile materials, additional properties (added value) can be achieved. The theory of colour, colour formation and perception and the treatment of different dye types including their application are described. As such, students obtain an understanding of textile materials and processes with special attention to the development of products with specific functionalities (flame retardant, crease resistant, antibacterial, soil resistant …). Nanotechnology and biotechnological materials and processes are discussed. A lot of attention is paid to the development of artificial turf for sports and other recreational purposes. A specific type of functional materials relates to intelligent (interactive) textile materials. Opposite to the other ‘major’, the courses are partially taught in Dutch, partially in English. Thematic clusters of elective courses offer students the possibility to further concentrate on specific materials (possibly from the other major), or on specific themes such as ecology, nanotechnology, smart materials, chemistry or business oriented technical and non-technical topics.
In both majors students have two possibilities: either an advanced programme of materials sciences or a more broad approach (by choosing a Minor) which – next to a thorough study of materials science – gives the opportunity to specialise in one of the following fields: Management, Environment and Sustainable Development, Automotive Production Engineering.
Graduates (Masters in Materials Engineering) –like all other engineers (Masters in Engineering)– have a wide range of possibilities. The demand for engineers (MSc in Engineering) exceeds the number of graduates available including material science engineers. Graduates have careers in industry, public service or scientific research. Fundamental and applied scientific research concentrates on the properties, the behaviour, the processing and the production of different types of materials, such as metals, synthetic materials, ceramics, composites and ‘new’ materials. Others analyse and optimise existing or new production and processing methods. Researchers can work in academic and industrial research centres. In industry, material science engineers have technical, commercial or management positions.
Traditional and new important industrial sectors for experts in materials are: the metal industry, both production and processing such as recycling of metals, assembly plants, chemical companies (corrosion or process engineer and material selection), machine manufacturers, micro-electronics companies (semiconductors), supervisory bodies and expertise centres (material properties and study of insurance claims) …
Material science engineers often work together with mechanical engineers, architects or chemists but have a specific complementary profile which is of vital importance in the implementation of engineering projects. Textiles and polymers also belong to materials engineering. The textile and clothing sector is still one of the main industries and a growing sector. Innovation and development of advanced products for new markets and the application of new technologies are essential for a healthy industry. This requires an increasing number of Masters in Engineering with a specialisation in Materials Engineering. They hold leading positions in the development, production and sale of advanced textile materials. Such textile materials are used in almost all industries, from beverages and food to foams, electronics, pharmacy, medicine, agriculture, transport (e.g. composites) etc. In these industries, job opportunities are available for material science engineers as well.