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Good day, I would like to enquirer the followings:

  1. What is the difference between studying materials science and materials engineering?
  2. Are there any jobs exclusive to those who have studied materials science/ materials engineering
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I frame my answers based on the materials tetrahedron modified as published in the 1990 Research Council Report in the US.

Materials science defines relationships between nature (chemistry and structure) and properties (mechanical, environmental, thermal, electrical, optical, magnetic) or between preparation (synthesis and processing) and nature. Materials engineering applies relationships between properties and performance (succeed/fail or min/max criteria) or between preparation and properties.

Here are two slides from my lectures for a course on the nature of materials (graduate level) to illustrate these statements.

lecture slides on mat sci and mat eng

The questions addressed in the disciplines are based on why something is the way it is (science) or how something can be used for an application (engineering). In a cynical view of the second slide above, one might say that materials scientists care nothing about where their material will be used (performance), they only care what is in it (nature), how it is made (preparation), and how it responds to a stimulus of some kind (properties). On the other hand, materials engineers care nothing about what the material really is at a fundamental level (nature), they only care whether making it (preparation) will give it the right responses (properties) so they can use it successfully in their application (performance). Unfortunately, some might say this cynical view has some level of truth, for example as shown by the cavalier attitude of some materials scientists about whether their materials have any real world applications at all or by the cavalier attitude of materials engineers to seek the fundamental reasons why their materials keep failing in use.

The predominant view for jobs in industry in the US is derived from the perspective of materials engineering. Materials science is based more in academia or research labs. Studies classed as materials science also appear in chemistry and physics departments. In my view in the US over the last decade or so, more jobs exist classed solely as materials engineering than those that exist classed solely as materials science.

Tangent to this, the predominate approach presented in the plethora of undergraduate textbooks on materials science/engineering starts from the perspective of materials engineers / metallurgists. Metals are the poster child of this group, followed by discussions of ceramics, a section in a chapter on semiconductors, and a chapter on polymers. Witness also the imbalance to metals engineering by specific examples of the snub to fundamental materials science in such textbooks by the lack of fundamental discussions about: the role of secondary bonds to define melting points of polymers, the role of HOMO/LUMO covalent bonding in molecules to explain band structures in semiconductors, or insights about dopant concentrations given in ppX scales translated to number density levels so as to calculate electrical conductivity. Finally, look also to this by the examples that present full chapters focused entirely on the various classes of engineering metals, various ways to process steel, various types of corrosion of steel in application systems, or TtT phase diagrams for steel.

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From a different point of view : Engineers get jobs in industry because they can solve practical problems. Scientists get jobs teaching and doing esoteric research. My first boss had a degree of "metallurgy" ( from MIT) , so a scientist. I had a degree of "metallurgical engineer". He did not know how stuff worked such as the general differences between DC and AC electric. As an engineer ,I had 2 classes in electrical engineering, as a scientist he had none. He knew about about various metals being soluble in each other ; He did not know you could apply this principle and improve the ductility of some metals with a solution anneal ( dissolving brittle intermetallic compounds). He did do some clever stuff like distilling zinc from scrap ; he got the idea then hired an engineering firm to design and build the furnace.

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