Who Is A Material Scientist?
A material scientist is usually involved with the research and development of metals, polymers, and other materials. As a material scientist, you will work on natural and manmade materials to bring out their intended applications.
For example, you will work on a composite material that can replace plastics currently being used for making prosthetic limbs. Here, you will be responsible for the science of the material, that is, designing it to withstand large amounts of forces while maintaining flexibility and utility.
Roles & Responsibilities
Conducting research and gathering data on chemical structures and properties of materials such as metals, alloys, polymers, ceramics, and superconductors. You will be doing this to obtain information that could be used to develop new products or improve existing ones.
Performing scientific experiments and running computer simulations to study the nature of metals and their alloys, and their responses to applied forces. For example, you will run a physics experiment to show how smart alloys can be used in aircraft technology.
Developing theories or models of physical phenomena related to materials. As a material scientist, you must formulate theories to predict behaviour and applications of existing or hypothesized (something that is only on paper) material. A famous theory in material sciences is the semiconductor theory (used to make chipsets in all computers).
Determining experimental ways to strengthen or combine materials, or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.
Preparing scientific reports and technical manuals for use by other scientists, engineers, and industrialists.
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What Skills Will I Need To Have To Do This Job Well?
As exciting as this sounds, there are some things you’ll need to learn to do the job right:
As a materials scientist, you must master physics and chemistry because you will be dealing with physical forces and chemical structures for the most part. Mathematics and computers are also recommended as this is a field that overlaps with engineering. For example, you will be asked to improve the existing chemical and physical structures of existing bulletproof materials such as Kevlar. This would require you to know everything about the physical and chemical properties of plastics and fibers.
Since you will be a scientist, you must know how to employ scientific method into your work. Scientific method consists of several practical steps, including observation, measurement, and experimentation. For example, you discovered a new material that changes its properties upon application of electricity or heat. You will use various scientific methods to determine its end application.
You will be writing and understanding large amounts of scientific literature, including research journals. You must have a great grasp of scientific jargon (terms) and English grammar and sentence structures.
Materials science is all about coming up with solutions for the problems that humans face. For example, often, existing prosthetic limbs aren’t flexible, cannot twist and turn, and have rigid composition. You can attempt to find a material that can act as an actual human limb with flexible joints, sockets, tendons, etc.
What Will My Workplace Look Like?
Your work life will vary depending on where you work, what role you have, and the scale of your job.
As a materials scientist, your work setting can be an office or a research laboratory. Your hours are usually 40-48 hours a week. You might also work overtime when major breakthroughs are being made. You may not be travelling much except to attend scientific conferences.
You could be employed in industries ranging from Aerospace to Sports, where you will developing new materials or improving existing ones.
What Is My Scope For Career Growth As A Material Scientist?
A professional in this field can begin with an entry-level job as a junior scientist or engineer (a materials scientist is often called materials engineer in India). As you gain experience and prove your mettle, you might get promoted to prestigious positions in scientific research organisations such as nuclear and biomedical, and also civil arenas such as electronics.
To give a clearer picture, take Aerospace as an example. Organisations such as the ISRO value materials engineer as the former require indigenous materials to build their rockets and spacecrafts. Your role mostly will be to lead the materials department. You can achieve this once you get a promotion.
Thinking of a career as a Material Scientist? Take the Mentoria assessment test & talk to our career counsellors to get personalized step-by-step guidance for your future career path.
How Much Will I Get Paid?
The exact number will depend on where you’re working, your education, skill set, and internship experience. But we can give you a general idea.
A materials scientist in India earns around Rs. 3 lacs per annum. The pay can go up to Rs. 18 lacs per annum for highly experienced professionals.
Okay, I'm sold. This is amazing
STEP 1: Class XI – XII/Junior College
In high school or junior college, take up hard sciences (including biology) and mathematics along with computers.
STEP 2: Entrance Exams
You can write any entrance examination that could get you an admission in a B.Tech. or a BSc course. B.Tech. graduates are preferred by most Indian scientific organisations excelling in this field.
STEP 3: Graduate Degree
Take up any stream in Engineering, including metallurgy, ceramics, mechanical, electrical, electronics, and chemical. Try grasping engineering physics and chemistry entirely.
STEP 4: Internship
Once you are done with graduation, you will require pre-post graduation experience in materials science. Internship would be the best option at that point in your career. IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras, CSIR-NML (Jamshedpur), CSIR-IMMT (Bhubaneswar), and DMRL (Hyderabad) are some of the most prestigious institutions in India that offer internships in this field. You can also take up internships in private industries such as TATA Steel.
STEP 5: Post Graduation
Now that you have the relevant graduate degree and internship certificate, apply for institutions such as BARC, CSIR, Materials Research Centre, and IISC. There are many other government and private institutions that offer the course. However, make sure that the university you want to join has the right credentials, research facilities, reputation, and faculty.
STEP 6: Land a Job
Now that you have graduated with a relevant degrees and an internship, it is time to bag a job.
Congratulations, you are now officially a Materials Scientist!
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