Field of Study: Ceramic Sciences and Engineering
Ceramic sciences and engineering programs teach people how to design ceramic materials for home and industrial use. Students learn to mix and shape ceramics for use in items such as computers, cars, and tools. They also learn how to bond ceramics with other materials.
You probably think of ceramics mostly in terms of dinner plates and teacups. Actually, the broadest definition of a ceramic is what you get when you take a non-metallic, non-organic material from the earth and then process it at a high temperature. It might start out as mere clay or sand. But depending on what you add to it and how you process it, you can turn this dross into many useful materials.
For example, if the fillings in your teeth are not metallic, they are ceramic. The spark plugs and catalytic converter in your car also contain ceramics. Glass, which you see and use everywhere, is also considered a ceramic.
Ceramic scientists and engineers apply their knowledge of science to find new ways to use ceramics. They are creating fuel cells to power autos with minimal air pollution. They are developing new bone implants for doctors to use. They are inventing laser amplifiers and new computer chips.
In a program in this field, you study the physical and chemical properties of ceramics. You learn how to manipulate the ingredients of ceramics or control the processing in ways that will bring out useful properties. You test the limits of ceramics, and when they fail, you analyze what makes them fail.
With four or perhaps five years of postsecondary study in this field, you can earn a bachelor's degree. This is a common entry route to one of the best-paying branches of engineering. But fewer than ten colleges in the U.S. offer a bachelor's program in this specific field.
Therefore you may consider getting a bachelor's degree in another branch of engineering and then getting a master's in ceramic sciences and engineering. About ten graduate schools of engineering offer the master's in ceramic sciences and engineering. This should take one or two years beyond the bachelor's.