Release Date: May 7, 2012
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Whether developing more efficient solar panels or sophisticated composite materials, University at Buffalo professors and students have long worked in the field of materials science and engineering.
But UB never offered a degree to formalize the experience. That will soon change.
Existing faculty and new hires will create a program that includes both a master's degree and a doctoral degree in materials science and engineering. Dubbed MSE@UB, the program is a joint effort between university's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Its pending creation coincides with surging interest in the field, due largely to advances in nanotechnology and a renewed attention to manufacturing.
"It's the right time to create this program, said Frank V. Bright, the A. Conger Goodyear professor and a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry at UB.
"We're bringing together a lot of experience within UB's science and engineering schools, in concert with existing departments, and looking to hire six or so new faculty members over the next three years who are at the forefront of this field," he said.
Bright will co-direct MSE@UB with Paschalis Alexandridis, UB Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and acting associate dean for research and graduate education in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Alexandridis said MSE@UB is "a very unique opportunity" because "UB's existing faculty and new professors, as well as the students, will have the ability to shape the program from its inception."
Materials science and engineering is not a new field. Indeed, many programs offered by universities evolved from metallurgy, the study of metals. As the field grew last century to include plastics, semiconductors and other materials, universities rebranded the programs as materials sciences and engineering.
The multidisciplinary field also includes nanotechnology, a relatively new branch of science and engineering that examines how matter can be manipulated on atomic and molecular scales. Nanotechnology has a wide array of commercial applications including, but not limited to, more efficient internal combustion engines and more durable bowling balls.
MSE@UB will build on the university's Integrated Nanostructured Systems program, an eight-year-old research initiative that centers on nanoscience and nanotechnology. It also will overlap with UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics. Approved by state lawmakers in March, the center aims to discover and commercialize new materials, including synthetic replacements for natural elements that are growing scarcer. More information about the Center of Excellence is available at http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13308.
UB may also expand its research of materials theory and computation, nanoelectronics, synthetics materials and biomaterials, ultrafast spectroscopy and advanced imaging, and novel characterization of mechanical properties. The new professors and students likely will work in those disciplines as well, Bright said.
"We don't want to put people in silos. That's not the strategy," he said. "You almost want to build a family. That's what we're trying to do here. I think it's going to be very exciting and transformative."
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