22 Feb Materials science is a natural fit for Wisconsin manufacturing
Innovation and research are what keep Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector vibrant, and one secret weapon is the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Department of Materials Science & Engineering.
Not only are top materials science students sought after by industry, but breakthroughs in materials developed at the university often have direct impacts on local businesses.
Materials scientists investigate a wide range of topics valuable to industry partners, from new advances in metallurgy and additive manufacturing—aka 3D printing—to new types of recyclable plastics, useful coatings and cutting-edge materials like graphene and other 2D materials.
At Middleton, Wis.-based Fiskars Brands, which manufactures a wide range of gardening and landscaping tools as well as scissors with the iconic orange handles, the quality control department is staffed almost entirely by UW–Madison MSE graduates. The reason? The broad-based education materials scientists receive at UW–Madison makes them uniquely equipped to design tests, perform sophisticated quality control checks and help improve new products for the major international firm.
“UW-Madison materials science covers all the disciplines: ceramics, plastics, semiconductors, glass, metallurgy, even water chemistry,” says Fiskars senior quality engineer for product compliance Tracy Melin (MSMS&E ’91). “It is very hands-on. And when you go into industry, it’s the same thing. So, it was really good training for going out and getting a job with one of the big companies.”