Technological innovation is seen as the driving force of the economic development of the most industrialized societies. Indeed only technological innovation in the production of goods can and will allow these countries to be competitive against countries that have cheap labour. In this context, materials represent a milestone for the industry and provide the necessary
platform on which to base the development of new technologies: energy production, transport, biomedical purposes, telecommunications, etc. In addition, Materials Engineering is a key area for the promotion of sustainable and environmentally friendly development.
The importance of Materials Engineering has grown in recent decades with the knowledge that the use of new materials is destined to mark genuine revolutions for society, as was the case with the spread of plastics at the beginning of the last century and more recently with the development of materials for electronics.
Both the VII and the Horizons 2020 Framework Programme of the European Community, as well as the corresponding national programs, dedicate considerable amounts of funding to base research and industrial research, and to the strengthening of the productive fabric in the field of innovative materials.
For these reasons, Politecnico di Torino has a degree program in Materials Engineering which has been active since its inception in 1992.
During the three year program, students can gain experience in an industrial setting through an internship, while further activities within industrial companies can be carried out during the thesis preparation of the MSc program. Moreover during the MSc program it is possible to add study periods abroad, in Universities that have stipulated Socrates- Erasmus exchange agreements. These agreements allow students to graduate with a second degree from some of the visited Universities while graduating in Material Engineering MSc of the Politecnico. Regardless of the fact that Material Engineering programs are active in most universities of the industrialized countries, European and Italian Universities still produce an insufficient number of graduates with respect to current market demand. Indeed, as a consequence of their cross curricular preparation, Material Engineers traditionally find plenty of work opportunities in the following:
- Mechanical, land and air transport, electronic industries.
- Companies that produce: plastic, metallic and ceramic materials; building materials; materials for biomedical applications; paper; precious metals.
- The energy production sector.
- Public and private technological research centres.
- Industrial service companies (quality certification,environmental protection).
Furthermore the emerging needs that arise from society are pushing Material Engineers towards new sectors and new challenges:
- Nano-materials, their processing technologies and their applications;
- The design of recyclable materials;
- The design of lightweight materials for energy efficient transport;
- The development of materials for the new power production technologies (nuclear fusion, photovoltaic, fuel cells)
- Materials for applications in extreme environments (hypersonic jets and space exploration).
The solid basic scientific and technological preparation, in common with other Industrial Engineering graduates, plus the cross curricular nature of their studies will allow Material Engineers to face these new challenges, guaranteeing them an even richer set of work opportunities than in the past.