Materials Science and Engineering

2014-15 Tuition

Research degree: $29,500; professional degree: $47,050

Application deadlines

Fall, Jan. 2 (without aid: April 1)

Requirements summary

Note: The preapplication is no longer required for this field. This change supersedes the requirements written in the paper application.

Degrees

  • M.Eng.
  • M.S.
  • Ph.D.

Subjects

  • Materials Science and Engineering (M.S., Ph.D., M.Eng.)

Major concentrations

  • materials engineering
  • materials science

The focus of current advanced materials research at Cornell includes ceramics, complex fluids, metals, polymers and semiconductors in the form of thin films and in the bulk. Electrical, magnetic, mechanical, optical, and structural properties are investigated. Some special topics of interest are composites, inorganic-organic hybrids, nanocomposites, organic optoelectronics, and, in relation to the structure of materials, the investigation of grain boundaries, surfaces and structural defects. Also studied are materials synthesis and processing and solid state reactions in model systems. Many faculty are involved in electronic packaging. Numerous interactions exist with other fields at Cornell.

A strong catalyst for materials research activities at Cornell has been provided by the Cornell Center for Materials Research (formerly: Materials Science Center), which provides substantial financial assistance to graduate students and maintains central research facilities.

Master of Engineering (Materials) program. This program provides advanced course work designed to prepare the student for a career in professional engineering. There is less emphasis on research. Additional information is available in the publication Graduate Study in Engineering and Applied Science.

Application:
Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in engineering or physical science. United States and Canadian applicants are strongly advised to submit GRE general test scores; all other applicants must submit those scores. The director of graduate studies may waive this requirement on request. Additional information about course programs and research areas is available on request from the graduate field office.

Lynden Archer -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: complex fluids and polymers
Dieter Ast -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: large-area electronics; thin film transistors; solar cells; quantum dots; MEMS
C. Thomas Avedisian -- Concentrations: materials engineering; Research interests: heat transfer; fluid mechanics; combustion
Antje Baeumner -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: research in biotechnology with special emphasis on analytical biotechnology, developing electrochemical and optical biosensors for detection of pathogenic microrganisms, pesticides and natural toxins
Shefford Baker -- Concentrations: materials engineering; Research interests: mechanical properties in small dimensions; micro- and nanomechanics; thin films and patterned structures; nanoindentation; microstructure and defects in materials
Carl Batt -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: development and implementation processes for the recombinent production of theroputic proteins; use of nanoscale materials; design and creation of novel biosensors; creation of hands-on science for young students
Joel Brock -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: time-resolved X-ray scattering of kinetic processes; in situ synchrotron X-ray scattering studies of thin-film growth; development of ultra-high-flux synchrotron radiation beamlines for real-time structural dynamics studies of materials
Paulette Clancy -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: computational studies of organic (e.g. pentacene, C60/Pn heterojunctions) and inorganic (Si-rich) semiconductors; ice and natural gas hydrates; thin films; novel processing techniques
Claude Cohen -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: polymer solutions; polymer composites; rheology; light scattering; injection molding
Harold Craighead -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS); single moledule studies; biosensors, microfluidics and chemical analysis; surface patterning for biological and other applications; nanofabrication, nanomaterials, nano optics, and electron transport
Paul Dawson -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: mechanics and materials science associated with deformation process of polycrystalline materials; material microstructures and their derivative mechanical properties
Rudiger Dieckmann -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: ceramics -- point defects, transport of matter and charge, crystal growth; thermodynamics; solid-state reactions - kinetics, metal-ceramic composites
Francis DiSalvo -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: inorganic chemistry; physical chemistry
Eve Donnelly -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: microstructure-property relationships in bone and tendon; disease and treatment; induced changes in the properties of bone mineral and collagen; connections between fundamental properties and clinical impact
James Engstrom -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: organic thin film transistors, where thin films of organic molecules and/or polymers provide the acttive (semiconducting) layer; molecular electronics, where a single molecule or a single molecular layer comprises the active layer
Lara Estroff -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: bio-inspired crystal growth; biomineralization; crystal growth in hydrogels; crystal polymorph control; self-assembled monolayers
Craig Fennie -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: applied physics; computational material science; condensed matter physics
Emmanuel Giannelis -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: polymer nanocomposites; bionanohybrids; materials for electronic packaging
Delphine Gourdon -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: mechano-biology; conformational and mechanical characterization of extracellular matrix proteins under strain and their direct role in cell response; adhesion, friction and lubrication properties of confined nano-films of proteins, polysaccharides, organic-inorganic (hybrid) nanoparticles and ionic liquids
David Grubb -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: structure and mechanical properties of polymers, polymer fibers, composites, and biomaterials
Sol Gruner -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: biological physics; polymer and other soft condensed matter physics; X-ray and synchrotron radiation science; scientific instrumentation and technique development; development of novel X-ray detectors
Tobias Hanrath -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: optoelectronic properties; nanocrystalline semiconductors; solar energy conversion; electromechanical energy storage
Richard Hennig -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: atomistic computation of defects; phase transitions; electronic properties and mechanical behavior of materials
Chekesha Liddell -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: colloidal building blocks for three-dimensional photonic crystals, design and synthesis of colloids for environmental remediation strategies, mesoscale assembly techniques, colloid separations technology, hierarchical inorganic and hybrid bio-inspired materials, inorganic mesoporous materials
John Marohn -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: characterization of electronic materials; nanoscale magnetic resonance imaging; scanning probe microscopy
Matthew Miller -- Concentrations: materials engineering; Research interests: processing and properties of engineering materials, primarily alloys; integrated characterization experiments and mechanical tests with multiscale numerical simulations to better understand structure/property relationships and to develop all performance prediction methodologies
David Muller -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: impact of electronic structural changes on small-length scales and how they affect macroscopic properties of materials; how interfaces affect transport properties; role of electronic structure in controlling chohesion of interfaces; first detection/real-space characterization of individual atoms and how clusters vary inside crystals
Anil Netravali -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: fiber science; green composites; geosynthetics
Christopher Ober -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: polymer synthesis - liquid crystals, thermosets, fluorinated polymers; polymer characterization - real-time x-ray diffraction; materials for microelectronics - resists and adhesives
Stuart Phoenix -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: long-term reliability of fibrous materials; statistical failure processes in composites
Richard Robinson -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: nanoparticle science and energy applications of nanoscale materials; synthesis and characterization of new metal and metal oxide particles; the creation of advanced alternative energy devices that make use of nanoparticles
Wolfgang Sachse -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: mechanics of materials; nondestructive testing techniques; wave propagation; physical acoustics
Darrell Schlom -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: heteroepitaxial growth and characterization of oxide thin films, especially ferroelectric and multiferroic oxides on semiconductors for increased functionality or as potential replacements for silicon oxide as the gate dielectric in MOSFETs
James Shealy -- Concentrations: materials engineering; Research interests: advanced synthesis of compound semiconductors
Robert Shepherd -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests:
Meredith Silberstein -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests:
Michael Spencer -- Concentrations: materials engineering; Research interests: microwave, optical, high-speed, high temperature, high-power switching of solid-state devices; high temperature growth and fabrication technology; deep level studies
Suntivich, J -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests:
Michael Thompson -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: electronic properties of thin layers; point defect diffusion in semiconductors; interface stability and nonequilibrium growth properties
Christopher (Kit) Umbach -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: surface characterization of thin films and glasses using x-ray scattering and scanned probe microscopy; nanopatterning of surfaces
Kenan Unlu -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: application of nucleation methods for materials research; neutron activation analysis; neutron depth profiling; prompt Gamma activation analysis; neutron radiography
R. Bruce van Dover -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: growth and properties of magnetic, dielectric, superconducting and optical thin films; fabrication and characterization of thin film devices; properties of magnetic and superconducting ceramics; development and use of high throughput synthesis/evaluation experimental strategies
Ulrich Wiesner -- Concentrations: materials science; Research interests: polymer science; block copolymers; ionomers; complex fluids under shear; polymer materials at the interface with ceramics and nanobiotechnology
Nicholas Zabaras -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: computational materials science; materials by design; predictions of structure and properties; crystal growth and solidification; computational thermodynamics and kinetics; first-principle caculations; multiscale modeling; mechanisms of materials

Graduate School Professors (emeritus)

Jack Blakely -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: surface science; semiconductors; defects; oxidation; disordered solids
Roald Hoffmann -- Concentrations: Research interests: electronic structure of molecules, organic or inorganic, discrete molecular structures, or extended arrays in one, two, or three dimensions
Arthur Ruoff -- Concentrations: Research interests: ultrahigh pressure; Raman spectroscopy; synchrotron diffraction; mechanical properties
Stephen Sass -- Concentrations: materials engineering; materials science; Research interests: internal interface structure and properties; applications of bicrystals; nanotechnology
John Silcox -- Concentrations: Research interests: electron microscopy and spectroscopy

Learning Outcomes and Assessment 

for the Ph.D. Program in Materials Science and Engineering

Learning Goals

The Learning Goals of the Materials Science and Engineering Ph.D. program reflect the exceptionally interdisciplinary nature of the program. The essential goal is to train candidates to be able to execute original research in Materials Science and Engineering at a world-class level. This implies that they master the fundamentals of all core materials science and engineering topics, develop in-depth understanding of the topics that are central to their research, synthesizing knowledge from different areas, and take the course-based knowledge to the research level. Here, with guidance from their mentors and peers, they apply their knowledge to solve problems of fundamental or practical interest. In addition to becoming a world expert in the area of their dissertation topics, the candidates will be prepared for a career as a professional scientist/engineer, with all the flexibility that that implies. 

Materials Scientists and Engineers must communicate effectively at a high level using written, oral and presentation skills. Candidates will acquire and improve these skills through course work, preparation for exams, and participation in faculty research groups. For example, MS&E 8020, the MS&E Research Seminar course, requires students to make oral presentations to members of their research group each semester. The MS&E A- and B-exams also require comprehensive skills in written and oral presentation. These formative skills are essential for the practicing Materials Scientist and Engineer.

It is also essential that Materials Scientists and Engineers are aware of ethical issues pertaining to the conduct and dissemination of research, in collaborative research endeavors as well as instances that may arise concerned with the teaching arena. Opportunities to participate in training concerned with ethical issues will be provided and training must be completed by each student before his/her A-exam. The successful completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research unit online is required of all students. 

Learning Outcomes

  A candidate for a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering is expected to demonstrate broad knowledge in the fundamental topics of Materials Science and Engineering and a deeper understanding of the topics that are central to their chosen research direction, breadth of interdisciplinary training, including relevant specialized coursework, and the ability to synthesize and create knowledge by making an original and substantial contribution to an area of Materials Science and Engineering. 

Specific Learning Outcomes/Proficiencies

Learning Outcome 1: Demonstrate broad knowledge in the fundamental core topics of Materials Science and Engineering,  advanced knowledge topics central to their chosen research direction, and broad interdisciplinary training.

  • Proficiency in six core topics:

   o Materials chemistry

   o Mechanical properties of materials

   o Materials thermodynamics

   o Kinetics

   o Electronic properties of materials

   o Structure of materials 

  • Advanced knowledge in at least three core topics relevant to their research
  • Interdisciplinary training 

Learning Outcome 2: Demonstrate the ability to acquire skills to perform independent advanced research.

  • Demonstrate ability to identify and seek out resources and information; apply these to guide research plan developmeny
  • Demonstrate the ability to master and/or innovate research methodologies, and techniques
  • Demonstrate oral and written communication skills 

Learning Outcome 3: Make an original and substantial contribution to the discipline.

  • Demonstrate independent thinking and creativity
  • Develop and execute original research plan
  • Generate publishable advances in an area of Materials Science and Engineering 

Learning Outcome 4: Demonstrate a commitment to advancing scholarship.

  • Maintain familiarity with advances in the field
  • Demonstrate commitment to personal professional development through engagement in professional societies, conference participations and publications
  • Show commitment to learning, collaborative inquiry, and mentoring 

Learning Outcome 5: Demonstrate professional skills.

  • Understand and maintain ethical standards in the field
  • Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively 

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Assessment of Learning Outcomes

Exams and assessments are part of the learning process. Formal learning in a classroom environment is assessed in exams that are a part of course work, and may take the form of written exams, oral exams, term papers, and/or oral presentations. 

The Q-exam is an oral exam that assesses the candidate’s basic knowledge of Materials Science and Engineering. This exam focuses on the candidate’s familiarity with the core topics of Materials Science and Engineering and mathematics. Each topic is assessed by  one or two faculty members who are familiar with the topic and the proficiency expected of MSE graduate students planning to pursue a Ph.D. degree. The oral format allows emphasis on examining understanding of the essential concepts as opposed to rote memorization. The Q-exam helps the faculty assess the candidate’s readiness in transitioning from a coursework-based environment to a practicing materials scientist and engineer who can synthesize and attack complex problems as well as create new knowledge by carrying out original research. The Q-exam formal report for students who have conditionally passed the exam notes any deficiencies in preparation and indicates the required remedies. 

The second examination is the Admission to Candidacy Examination (A-exam), a comprehensive exam that gauges the candidate’s knowledge of the field and readiness for independent research. This is an oral examination, administered by the members of the candidate’s permanent Special Committee along with a Field-appointed member whose role in part is to ensure that any deficiencies noted in the Q-exam have been remedied. At the A-exam the candidates must demonstrate broad knowledge in their research area, relate it to general concepts in Materials Science and Engineering, and demonstrate solid communication and presentation skills. After passing this exam, usually by the beginning of the candidate’s third year, he/she begins research in earnest. 

The third and final exam is the thesis defense (B-exam). It is an oral exam administered by the candidate’s special committee after his/her completion of the Ph.D. thesis research. The exam covers the thesis topics and related matters. The B-exam is an open examination that permits the faculty (and fellow students/public) to assess the quality of the research, and that highlights the candidate’s written, oral and communication skills.

Assessment of the Ph.D. program does not end with awarding of the Ph.D. It is vital that long-term outcomes be tracked and assessed. In the past it has been challenging to maintain contact with more than a small fraction of MS&E Ph.D.’s, the advent of professionally-oriented social media (such as LinkedIn) is likely to increase the success rate. Contact after one year will be used to determine employment status, and on a five-year cycle we will survey Ph.D. graduates to determine what aspects of the program they have found most instrumental in their careers, what aspects they might wish were different, and what level of success they perceive themselves to have attained in their careers. A committee will collect and evaluate these data on at least a biennial basis.

Learn more about learning assessment for the M.Eng. degree. 

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