RICHARDSON, Texas (Jan. 30, 2006) — The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on Thursday gave The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) authority to offer two new graduate degree programs, one leading to a Ph.D. degree and the other to an M.S. degree, in the promising field of materials science and engineering.
UTD will begin offering the new programs immediately, and could confer several of the degrees for the first time at the university’s Spring commencement.
Materials science and engineering involves the study of advanced materials, including metals and their composites, polymers, silicon and bio-materials, and their possible uses in new and sophisticated applications. The field is multidisciplinary in nature, combining elements of physics, chemistry and biology, in addition to engineering.
“Leading research universities of the 21st Century must be involved in the creation of new materials, which have enormous potential economic implications,” said Dr. Da Hsuan Feng, UTD’s vice president for research and economic development. “With the establishment of these new graduate degrees, UTD has demonstrated its intent to become a major force in the development of the materials that will fuel the advancement of science and technology in what is being referred to as the ‘post-silicon period.’”
The graduate programs in materials science and engineering will draw upon the teaching and research skills of faculty from two of UTD’s seven schools – the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, according to Dr. Bruce Gnade, a professor in the Electrical Engineering Department who helped design the new academic offerings and will serve as the program chair.
Twenty-one faculty members from the two schools will be affiliated with the degree programs, Gnade said, including Nobel laureate Dr. Alan G. MacDiarmid, who holds the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair in Science and Technology at UTD, and Dr. Ray H. Baughman, the Robert A. Welch Professor of Chemistry and director of the UTD NanoTech Institute, who holds a Ph.D. degree in materials science from Harvard University.
“The objective of the doctoral and master’s degree programs in materials science and engineering is to prepare individuals to perform original, cutting-edge research in the broad areas of materials science, including areas such as nano-structured materials, electronic, optical and magnetic materials, bio-mimetic materials, polymeric materials, MEMS materials and systems, organic electronics and advanced processing of modern materials,” said Gnade. “We anticipate that many of our graduate students will go on to fill experimentally-oriented, high-technology jobs, primarily in industry.”
Because UTD’s materials science research is heavily focused on applications, virtually every student who enrolls in the program will be involved in research and development work funded by industry or the government, Gnade said, making them more attractive to potential employers upon graduation. And, he said, they will have access to the university’s “world-class research facilities and infrastructure,” which include a new, unique multi-module cluster tool, focused ion beam /scanning electron microscopy, high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, x-ray diffraction suite, wafer bonding laboratory and a clean room research laboratory.
UTD’s materials science and engineering activities are expected to be housed in a new, $85-million Natural Science and Engineering Research Laboratory, which is scheduled to open on campus by the end of 2006.
“The quality of our faculty and facilities, coupled with the applications focus of our funded research, we believe, will result in a highly attractive program that will be unique among materials science and engineering programs offered by Texas institutions of higher education,” said Dr. Robert Helms, dean of engineering and computer science. “The granting of this program is a major milestone in achieving our commitment to the citizens of Texas to rank among the nation’s top 50 engineering schools.”
In 2003, the State of Texas committed $50 million in Texas Enterprise Fund monies to UTD as part of a $300-million government-university-industry project to place the next Texas Instruments manufacturing plant in Richardson, Texas, and to bring world-class capabilities, like the materials science and engineering program, to UTD’s Jonsson School.
Although the degree programs have just been approved, Gnade estimated that as many as 25 engineering and science majors are already prepared to enroll. Some came to UTD in anticipation of the university offering the degrees, he said, with a handful of those expected to receive a Ph.D. or an M.S. degree at the May 6 commencement, provided all degree requirements are met.
The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor®, enrolls nearly 14,500 students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s website at www.utdallas.edu.