Why I want to be an engineer

In our daily life, we are intimately connected with materials.  As we work, study or socialize each day, we notice the things we use, the clothing we wear and the places we live and work, our very environment, they are all made from various type of materials.

For instance, smartphones and many other electronic devices are able to process instructions and give response to the users, and this is made possible by the copious use of silicon chips with tiny transistors on them; these components having been assembled and fixed their positions with plastic or metallic shrouds.

We no longer directly wear animal skins or cover ourselves with cotton balls as collected from the cotton plant. Instead, we give these materials various treatments; we form them in different shapes and various styles. More recently, thermal insulating materials such as polyester or polypropylene are widely used, as these materials offer superior advantages in fabric form (e.g. light weight, higher heat capacity, thus warmer in winter, etc.).

Reinforced concrete, aluminium composite panels and plywood are excellent examples of construction materials. We combine different types of resources to create new and exciting materials that have the combined characteristics of their constituents, giving rise to new applications.

These cutting-edge materials did not come out of the blue, there was not any recipe for any one of them at the start, in fact, they are discovered by experimental iterations, scientific collaborations with engineers and technologists and this process is driven by the worldwide demands to fulfil human needs.

Global warming has become one of the most important issues that we as engineers and scientists have to tackle. Studies have shown that there are some materials that are able to convert greenhouse gases into fuel on a small scale and this is made possible by innovation in materials.

Choosing Material Science and Engineering as a degree is a commitment.  A very important commitment to ensure those future generations will inherit a better world from us and this can be only achieved through development of high performance materials that will assist us to reach that destination alongside sustainable development.

To fellow and prospective students. Time flies.  The time when you do your undergraduate course will go by very fast indeed, so capture the best moments throughout your courses, develop them further, they will become your favourite activities in the future!

Sum Sum Chan
BEng Materials Science and Engineering graduate 2015.
Current MSc Nuclear Science and Technology student.

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