Engineering Schools Merge to Enhance Learning and Research

New School Now the Largest MSE Program in the U.S.

The Schools of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and Polymer, Textile, and Fiber Engineering (PTFE) have merged into one school in an effort to better meet research and academic changes in these areas. Effective July 1, 2010, the newly merged school will continue under the name Materials Science and Engineering. Faculty from both schools sought the merger citing the disciplinary fit, the current collaborative efforts already in place and the changes taking place in industry, academia, and government.

“We were already seeing a lot of commonality in the disciplines of materials, polymers and fiber engineering,” said MSE school chair, Dr. Robert Snyder. “The merger of the two schools will enable us to venture into a broad variety of research topics including bio-inspired/bio-enabled materials and soft polymers, nanomaterials and devices, materials for energy storage and harvesting, and advanced structural materials to name a few.”

The new school will be positioned to better respond to the rapid development of new materials required by the 21st century and will help redefine the manufacturing base of Georgia, and nationally, especially in the areas of textiles, metals, paper, ceramics, and composites. The current School of Polymer, Textile, and Fiber engineering has its roots in textile engineering beginning in 1897. In the beginning this School was focused on textile engineering, and in time progressed to include the study of synthetic fibers, and now has moved toward the more fundamental study of polymers in various forms – as fibers, films, coatings, adhesives, plastics, and elastomers.

“We have moved in an inclusive way from textiles only, to fibers, and more recently to polymers,” said PTFE school chair, Dr. Anselm Griffin. “We now do more research and teaching in polymeric macromolecules and soft materials. As we delve more deeply into polymeric materials, this transition toward merging our activities with materials science and engineering is a natural fit for what we do.” Textile and fiber research will continue in the new school but with the added dimension of researching and exploring macromolecules, composites, and nanotechnology , as they relate to our industry partners. 

Materials Science and Engineering
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Martha Lesniewski, a Materials and Science Engineering student, is developing a biodegradable material for the encapsulation and delivery of stem cells.

“There has been a long history with our alumni going out to be leaders in the PTFE field,” said Griffin. “Their work and accomplishments have continued to assure us that the school has consistently been one of the best in the country. While the school name will change, the importance that these alumni have in working with our faculty and students will continue.”

Students will still be able to study textile and fiber engineering under the new school. The new school will be the largest MSE program in the country with more than 55 faculty members and will serve as the hub of materials-related research at Georgia Tech. MSE is currently nationally ranked seventh in the undergraduate programs and eighth in graduate programs by U.S. News and World Report.

“The new school will be able to produce graduates who are well-rounded in the fundamentals of materials science and engineering, and who are prepared to meet the related needs of industry and government,” said Snyder. “They will be able to do this by specializing in tracks in virtually all areas of material types, functions, and phenomena.”

“We applaud the efforts of the faculty from both the schools to move in a direction that will respond to industry, academic and research needs and trends of the future,” said Don Giddens, Dean of the College of Engineering. “By merging the two schools, the opportunities for students and faculty alike will be broadened and go far beyond what is currently available.”