Working in a diverse range of industries, materials engineers are responsible for the research, specification, design and development of materials to advance technologies of many kinds. Their expertise lies in understanding the properties and behaviours of different substances, from raw materials to finished products. The field is also referred to as materials science or materials technology.
Engineers work with a wide range of materials including ceramics, chemicals, glass, industrial minerals, metals, plastics, rubber and textiles. Normally working in a particular area, for example metals, coatings or chemicals, duties vary according to the industry you work in and the size of the organisation you work for, but typical activities include testing materials, analysing data using computer modelling software, considering the implication of waste and environmental pollution issues, solving problems that may arise during the manufacturing process or with the finished product, supervising quality control and considering the cost implications of materials used, in terms of time and money.
At a senior level, the work is likely to involve more innovative research or greater management responsibility. The latter will call for a range of additional skills that are not necessarily part of the routine work of a materials engineer. Again, depending on your job you could be based in an office, laboratory or manufacturing environment.