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Details for Materials Scientists


Description

Research and study the structures and chemical properties of various natural and manmade materials, including metals, alloys, rubber, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, and glass. Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.

Tasks

  • Plan laboratory experiments to confirm feasibility of processes and techniques used in the production of materials having special characteristics.
  • Confer with customers in order to determine how materials can be tailored to suit their needs.
  • Conduct research into the structures and properties of materials, such as metals, alloys, polymers, and ceramics in order to obtain information that could be used to develop new products or enhance existing ones.
  • Prepare reports of materials study findings for the use of other scientists and requestors.
  • Devise testing methods to evaluate the effects of various conditions on particular materials.
  • Determine ways to strengthen or combine materials, or develop new materials with new or specific properties for use in a variety of products and applications.
  • Recommend materials for reliable performance in various environments.
  • Test individual parts and products in order to ensure that manufacturer and governmental quality and safety standards are met.
  • Visit suppliers of materials or users of products in order to gather specific information.
  • Research methods of processing, forming, and firing materials in order to develop such products as ceramic fillings for teeth, unbreakable dinner plates, and telescope lenses.
  • Study the nature, structure and physical properties of metals and their alloys, and their responses to applied forces.
  • Monitor production processes in order to ensure that equipment is used efficiently and that projects are completed within appropriate time frames and budgets.
  • Test material samples for tolerance under tension, compression and shear, to determine the cause of metal failures.
  • Test metals in order to determine whether they meet specifications of mechanical strength, strength-weight ratio, ductility, magnetic and electrical properties, and resistance to abrasion, corrosion, heat and cold.
  • Teach in colleges and universities.

Interests

  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).
  • Training - Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
  • Experience - Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.

Knowledge

Skills

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Related Careers

  • Chemical Technicians
  • Chemists
  • Geoscientists, Except Hydrologists and Geographers
  • Natural Sciences Managers
  • Physicists
Wages for this career
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