The Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE) was established in 1987 with the merger of the Departments of Ceramic Engineering and Metallurgy & Mining Engineering. Although a relatively young department, MatSE actually was built on a tradition of excellence that dates back to the founding of the University of Illinois in 1867, when the university was required to have a mining program as part of its mission as a land-grant institution.
The Mining Engineering Department later included metallurgy and petroleum engineering, and in 1940 the Department of Metallurgy & Mining Engineering was established. The undergraduate curriculum in mining engineering was phased out in the late 1960s. The Department of Ceramic Engineering was established in 1905.
MatSE is organized into six areas of concentration—biomaterials, ceramics, electronic materials, metals, polymers, and computational materials. Students take common core courses, then specialize in one area according to their research interests. The department is one of the largest in the nation, with 27 full-time faculty and over 400 undergraduate and graduate students. MatSE at Illinois has earned a reputation as one of the top three materials programs in the nation.