Materials: What next?
I had an email a while back asking why someone would want to do Materials. The chap who emailed me made a suggestion that I put a bit about careers after I’d added my “Why Materials?” page, so I’m dutifully doing so. Before you read anything here, please note that I’m not an expert on the careers available, and all knowledge that I have is just from my own research and interests. There are whole trees of Materials that I’m not interested in, and don’t know anything about for the careers bit. Sorry if those are the ones you want! This is mainly just to give you an idea if you are as clueless as I was when I first started, knowing I wanted to do Materials but having no clue where to begin.
So, read on for some of the places you can go…!
Oil and gas companies love us – Shell and BP are active campaigners, holding lunchtime talks and lunchs regularly to try recruit. Something to do with corrosion of pipelines and such. You can also get into deep-sea welding this way. I attended a couple of lectures, but can’t say much more as I was never really interested.
Another popular one is the aerospace industry. Rolls Royce is a big employer, and several guys in my year have recently got summer internships to go experience life in the industry with them. They study things such as turbine blades, fractures and other useful things like reducing weight and improving performance. I don’t really know a lot about it – again, I’ve just listened to the lectures we’ve been given.
Nuclear Energy. The future of all power, or so the guys who do these lectures say (and my brother does them, so I hear a lot about it!). This can be a bit tricky – I applied for an internship at a place that deals with nuclear Materials and got rejected cos I haven’t lived in England for ten years. I guess if you’re really interested, there are other routes you can try, but I moved on pretty quickly as it was all about the insurance options for me!
The big one for me: Biomaterials. There are so many places in medicine where materials are used that have to be compatible with the body and mimic natural organs/functions to be adequate. A big one is orthopaedics, the field I hope to go into, but drugs companies also love us. One of my friends is interning with P&G this summer – I managed to get a place in an orthopaedics company, but there are a huge number of other things to go for.
You can go into basically anything sciency, which has a chemistry, physics or maths component. There is always need for new materials in any industry – recruiters who have told me they will take Materials Engineers include:
- water companies;
- a consultancy where they make a load of different things to order from different customers, with almost no limit on what they will try to make;
- a gaming software company thingy (who did the graphics for Harry Potter 6!);
- various weapons companies;
- MI5 and MI6;
- the military;
- electronics manufacturers;
- and many many more…
Another career to consider is the obvious if you are a student at IC – research. The Materials department has projects in collaboration with every other department in College, even the Business School. They are big on fuel cells, ceramics, nanomaterials, bioengineering, aerospaces and a number of others. If you wanted to move to a different department, with a Materials degree it would be easy. Loads of researchers in the chemistry/physics departments did UG Materials, and lots of Materials researchers did chemistry/physics. It’s the most flexible degree you can do.
Of course, if there was nothing at IC that interested you for research, there are a ton of other places you can go to, including Oxbridge, Sheffield, Manchester, Dubai…it’s massive.
Wow, I’ve discovered some sense of love for Materials as I’ve been writing this. I’m feeling quite emotional, all of a sudden. I’d better stop waxing lyrical, before my word count reaches 1000, or in other terms, an eighth of my required words for my Design Study. Please, email me and ask questions. I’m here to help!
If you have any other career specific queries, and are a member of IC already, check out the Careers Service. They’re pretty good too.