New Minor Offered in Engineering

Starting this fall, the Henry Samueli School of Engineering will offer a new minor in materials science engineering in which physical sciences and engineering majors can enroll and still graduate within four years.
Materials science, a discipline which involves the appropriate selection and strengthening of technical materials, is a field of study that will enhance the versatility of students geared toward the scientific industry, according to Farghalli A. Mohamed, professor and director of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science.
‘Materials science is bound to every industry. We’d like to enhance the background of students, especially engineering students and physical sciences students. We’d like that when they graduate, they will have sufficient knowledge of material,’ Mohamed said.
The materials science minor will incorporate a seven-course curriculum, including five required core classes and the selection of two electives. Many of these courses may be taken to fulfill already implemented elective breadth requirements in the engineering and physical sciences curriculum.
As opposed to the current alternative of doubling in MSE or a specialization in MSE, a minor in MSE provides a middle ground between the two options. The minor will allow students to earn substantial experience and credit in their transcript without exceeding the four-year plan.
‘It’s my impression that there are going to be a lot of students interested. For the time being, there are something like 30 students interested in specialization. Once they discover the minor doesn’t overload more than just replacing more technical electives, I think they will choose the minor,’ Mohamed said. ‘It will open the way for them outside when they’re looking for a job, because to look for a job these days you have to make sure that you have all the components of a good education.’
Administered by the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, students interested in applying must first satisfy all the required prerequisites and selected electives. Such prerequisites include a 2.5 overall GPA, and the completion of Chemistry 1A, one chemistry lab, Mathematics 2D, 2J and 2E, Physics 7B and one physics lab.
According to Andrew J. Putnam, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science, a MSE minor may be a good option for chemical and biomedical engineers as well.
‘My research is at the interface between biology, medicine and engineering,’ Putnam said. ‘Understanding the material properties is very important to the advancement of this field. So I think any chemical engineer who is interested in a career in biomedical research and particularly in biomedical implant materials, such as materials for tissue engineering, cardiovascular applications, these students will get a lot of benefit from a materials minor.’
In addition, according to the results of several studies including one from the National Research Council Report on Maintaining Competitiveness in the Age of Materials, materials research and development will play a central role over the next decade in solving many technical problems facing society.
Engineering students are already considering the new minor upon hearing about the opportunities and conveniences the program provides.
‘I feel that taking MSE as a minor will contribute to more job opportunities in the future. I would consider taking it as a minor because I don’t have to take extra classes and I can still graduate within four years, which is good for all the lazy engineering students out there,’ said first-year mechanical engineering major Nelson Yu.
Beau Hong, another a first-year mechanical engineering major, agrees.
‘I think it is great that the university allows this minor because it adds a new field of interest into the curriculum and gives students more options in experimenting what is right for them.’
Stanley B. Grant, professor of environmental engineering and department chair, encourages students to consider a minor because of the faculty in the MSE department.
‘The department is very excited to offer this opportunity to the students and we hope they take liberal advantage of it. The material science faculty is a fun bunch,’ Grant said.