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History of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UT Arlington

Carl WisemanThe Materials Science and Engineering Program celebrated its 50th anniversary during the 2015-16 academic year. The program dates to the mid-1960s when Dr. Carl Wiseman was hired by the College of Engineering to initiate a graduate program in materials science. That eventually occurred in the fall of 1966, when the College of Engineering became the first component at UTA authorized to offer graduate degrees.

The first materials courses taught in the fall of 1966 were within the Department of Engineering Mechanics. In fact, early graduates of the materials program had their degrees titled “Engineering Mechanics.” That would change over the next decade and a half of the program’s evolution, as the materials faculty and materials degree responsibilities were changed to the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The degrees were clearly identified as “Materials Science” or “MATS” by that time. In the early years, the materials faculty consisted only of Dr. Wiseman and Dr. Robert Johnson.

In 1969, the Materials Program was authorized to offer doctoral degrees, along with most programs in The College of Engineering. The next significant change in the materials program came in 1990, after an extensive external review of the doctoral program. The UT Arlington administration followed the recommendations of the reviewers and made a sustained commitment to the program by providing additional resources, approving an increase in the number of materials faculty, and hiring the first director for the program, Dr. Ron Elsenbaumer.

Also in 1990, the name of the program was changed to “Materials Science and Engineering,” reflecting the broader interdisciplinary scope of the expanded program. In 2005. Dr. Efstathios Meletis was hired as the new program director and in 2006 the program was elevated to a department within the College of Engineering.

There are 28 faculty (eight core and about 25 affiliated faculty) in the department, serving close to 80 students, two-thirds of whom are doctoral students. Curriculum and research have evolved to broadly cover almost all technological and scientific aspects of materials. It’s come a long way from the fall of 1966, when Dr. Wiseman and an adjunct faculty member taught those first two graduate courses.