Department of Materials Science and Engineering

What is MSE?

What is materials science engineering (MSE)?

An interdisciplinary field that deals with the discovery and design of new materials - materials created to solve major problems in the world related to energy, human health and the environment.

New technologies in materials science include Gorilla Glass on the iPhone, low-density ceramics used as heat-shielding tiles in SpaceX rockets, specialty polymers used for targeted drug delivery to cancerous tumors, semiconductor solar cells on rooftops, lightweight metal alloys used in high-performance aircraft, and hybrid nanomaterials used in next-generation batteries.

Materials science is critical to our nation’s global competitiveness, and these engineers are in demand. MSE graduates can anticipate excellent job prospects and salaries from companies ranging from startups to established multinational corporations.

What do materials scientists/engineers do?

At UCI students not only learn about the properties and characteristics of materials, such as metals, alloys, ceramics, polymers, semiconductors, glasses, composites and nanomaterials, they also develop, design, make, test and use materials and material systems for specific applications. They learn about 3-D printing and rapid prototyping technologies in one of two maker spaces:

They have the opportunity to use advanced imaging techniques such as scanning electron microscopy as part of the curriculum. A new Irvine Materials Research Institute (IMRI) will provide additional state-of-the-art materials characterization technologies that probe material structure and properties spanning atomic to macroscopic scales.

UCI students learn how to fabricate and process these materials, characterize their structure, predict their properties, examine and modify material behavior, and improve material performance as relevant to a broad range of technologies including:

  • Electronic, Information and Communication Technology
  • Energy Generation, Storage and Delivery
  • Biosensors and Medical Devices
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Aerospace, Automotive, and Transportation
  • National Security

Who hires MSE graduates?

Graduates from UCI’s MSE program are uniquely positioned to take advantage of emerging job opportunities spanning a wide variety of industries. They benefit from a large local engineering industry with close ties to the school. Here are some of the companies, where MSE students regularly secure internships either on the UCI campus or in close proximity.

  • Broadcom
  • Boeing
  • Ceradyne/3M
  • Conexant Systems
  • Edwards Lifesciences
  • Fluor Daniel
  • Glidewell Dental
  • Hitachi Chemical Research Center
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Northrop Grumman
  • Parker Hannifin
  • Printronix
  • Skyworks Solutions
  • 3M Dental Products

What is it like to study materials science & engineering at UCI?

UCI’s MSE program has a smaller student-to-faculty ratio than any of the other engineering majors. This means smaller class sizes, more opportunities to work in research labs and more faculty attention.

MSE students develop detailed knowledge of electronic, chemical, mechanical, thermal and optical properties of materials and how they can be customized and manipulated for specific applications. This breadth of knowledge enables students to collaborate with engineers from other disciplines, including biomedical, chemical, environmental and mechanical engineers. During senior year, MSE students enjoy the opportunity to engage in a year-long interdisciplinary design project involving industry partners.

Here are some examples of recent undergraduate projects:

Energy and Environment:

  • The Design and Testing of Pulse Electrodeposition for Nanostructured Materials
  • Fuel Cell Testing Station
  • Design and Testing of Hydrogen Fuel Cell
  • Development of New Ceramic Cr(II) Catalysts
  • Proton Conducting Sr-doped LaPO4 for Solid Oxide Fuel Cells
  • Computational Modeling of Nuclear Fuel Composite Ceramic Materials

Biomedical and Biological Technologies

  • Eyeglasses for the Developing World
  • Hydrogel Pill for Obesity
  • Microfluidic Circulating Tumor Cell Capture Device
  • Design of a Surgical System for Minimally Invasive Heart Replacement
  • Pressure Release Alert System for Spinal Cord Injury Patients


  • Solar-powered Airplane
  • Materials Selection and Design and Stirling Engines
  • Device to Measure the Degree of Cataract
  • Design and Testing of Hydrogen Fuel Cell
  • Materials Selection and Design of FSAE Race Car
  • Thermal Shock Improvement for Automotive Oxygen Sensors

Other Technologies

  • Low-cost Cell Phone Microscope
  • Multiphase Ceramics for Transparent Armor