Materials Engineering at Cal Poly is the only primarily undergraduate materials engineering program in the USA. It has the largest undergraduate student body of 250 students of any Materials Engineering department in the state of California, and among the largest in the United States. This means that we are a major contributor of materials engineering graduates to industries in the western United States.
Despite the department's large size within our discipline, it is still the smallest department in the College of Engineering at Cal Poly. Consequently, we have a "family-like" atmosphere. You get to know your peers and professors on more of a personal level as you work hands-on with equipment that undergraduates in other universities typically do not have access to.
What is Materials Engineering?
Materials Engineering is the study of the relationship between the atomic/molecular structure of materials, the way we process these materials to alter the structure, and the way that the structure influences the properties of the material. The ultimate goal is to optimize the performance of a material for a given design application by manipulating the structure, processing and property relationship.
Our curriculum is designed to provide you with experiences in all of the different fields of materials engineering including metals, polymers, ceramics, composites and electronic materials. You will learn about structures at the atomic, molecular, nano- and micro-scales and the types of defects that occur in these structures. We will explore how these structures and defects affect the properties of materials and how you can manipulate these structures through processing to control the properties. This is the science behind Materials Engineering.
But there is more! More so than ever, engineers must have non-technical skills to be successful in industry and society. Engineers, as professionals, have tremendous influence on the future of our very technological society. Yet this power and influence comes with responsibility. With the rise of globalization and its strain on environmental and social systems, the 21st century engineer needs to develop skills that integrate creativity and social sciences into more technical aspects of engineering. The intention behind our curriculum is that you will develop the cognitive, social, affective, and psychomotor characteristics needed for engineering's very important mission.
Flowcharts & Curriculum
Composition of MATE
Each student is unique and contributes to the diversity of the Materials Engineering Department. We like to say that our goal is to have every student come to our department as a unique individual, and every graduate to leave our department as a more educated unique individual ready to accomplish their future aspirations. If you join us, you will be known as a MATE! About 250 students make up the MATE student body. MATEs come from all walks of life and represent every demographic: Women, Men, LGBTQIA, LatinX, African American, Asian American, White, International, Differently Abled, Traditional Students, Married Students, Students with children of their own, and on and on. We welcome all, and we believe in all. We are here to help you succeed!
Involvement in clubs enhances the learning and social experience of MATE students. MATE clubs provide opportunities to learn from alumni and industry representatives who come share their knowledge, tour companies, volunteer for various outreach events, and sponsor social activities.
Alpha Sigma Mu (ASMu)
The national Materials Engineering Honor Society
Materials Engineering Student Society (MESS)
Social and professional organization for MATEs
Microsystems Technology Group (MST)
Maintains and operates the Cleanroom
National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE)
Professional organization for those interested in the corrosion protection industry
Focused on the science and engineering of fibers and textiles and the industries that use this technology
Community and Celebrations
Being a MATE isn't all hard work! Community and celebrating our "MATE-iness" are also a big part of the MATE experience. Students are often spotted in our main classroom or lounge area studying together and hanging out. Students, faculty, and staff gather informally during the last week of class to "de-stress" by enjoying some snacks and laughs together before finals. Our annual MATE Banquet is a department-wide celebration of what makes MATE great and usually includes musical performances, art and skits by MATE students. We also hold a special graduating senior's banquet and Spring commencement ceremony for our graduating MATEs to celebrate them and their accomplishments.
Resources for MATEs
Advising & Academic Success
CENG Advising Center (40 - 115)
Engineering Student Services provides an inclusive, respectful, encouraging environment that fosters the retention and graduation of all undergraduate engineering students. Through their Advising, Multicultural Engineering (MEP), International Exchange Program (IEP), and Tutoring Programs, ESS staff provides comprehensive services to guide and empower students to achieve their goals.
CENG can also be consulted regarding the various curriculum forms (e.g., Course Substitution Forms, Special Problems, Change of Catalog). They will help route the forms for signatures and processing by the Registrar's Office.
Get help from CENG tutors trained to assist you learn the material based on your learning style so you can excel on your exams and homework on your own.
Multicultural Educational Program (MEP)
The Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) is part of the CENG Advising Center. MEP recruits, retains and graduates a diverse population of students, especially groups which continue to remain the most underrepresented in engineering.
Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority and Underrepresented Student Participation in STEM (LSAMP)
LSAMP is dedicated to broadening the participation of underrepresented minority (URM) students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
Supplemental Workshops in Science (SWS)
Supplemental Workshops in Science provide an accelerated learning environment for selected classes. Guided by trained facilitators, students participate in discussions, compare notes, develop study strategies and challenge their understanding with practice exams and worksheets. Workshops meet twice a week and earn one unit of academic credit.
Supplemental Workshops in Math (SWM)
Supplemental Workshops in Math is an intensive mathematics program for students who are enrolled in mathematics courses from MATH 100 to 143. SWM helps students master math concepts and promote collaborative learning, including concept enhancement, problem-solving and mock exams.
Career Services (124 - 114)
When employers contact the MATE Office about jobs and internships, we refer them to Career Services and request that they post their opening on MustangJOBS. We encourage alumni to post employment opportunities on our LinkedIn group page as well.
Materials Engineering students get hands on experience with state-of-art instruments and testing equipment found in industry. Providing students access to equipment that allows them to analyze materials is a key component of their learn-by-doing education. Materials engineering students graduate with the confidence and skills to use equipment, thereby requiring less on-the-job training after they are hired. Employers know our students are ready to work, so MATE graduates are highly desirable.
In your first year you're likely to learn how to polish metal to expose the structure of atoms within the metal under an optical microscope. You may also learn how to bombard that same piece of metal with X-rays to examine the special pattern these atoms have formed called a crystal structure. Later you'll learn how to use infrared radiation to explore the molecular structure of plastics and electrons to peer into a material at 50,000 times magnification to understand what it is made of or why it fractured. You'll get a chance to test metals, polymers and composites under loads to measure their mechanical properties like stiffness and strength. Lastly, you could even dress up in a bunny suit! Yup, you can put on your gear and go into our Class 1000 cleanroom. This is the only cleanroom dedicated to undergraduate education west of the Mississippi River.