Department Mission and History

Our vision is to be a vibrant, diverse, supportive community of materials scientists and engineers developing fundamental understanding, enabling advanced technologies, and providing world leadership through education and innovative research.

Our mission is to:

  • Create a stimulating and nurturing educational environment broadly preparing students at all levels for successful careers;
  • Advance a fundamental understanding of materials properties, processing and applications by performing leading edge, world class research;
  • Engage in collaborative research efforts with corporate and academic partners worldwide;
  • Train the most highly valued materials science and engineering students in the nation;
  • Lead the advanced materials effort at Cornell University;
  • Maintain partnerships with the premier materials research centers housed on-campus, such as the Cornell Center for Materials Research, the Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility, the Energy Materials Center at Cornell, the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability to maximize research capabilities;
  • Promote a greater understanding of the role of materials science in society; and
  • Actively participate in national and international professional societies.

The History of Materials Science and Engineering

The Cornell Department of Materials Science and Engineering was officially formed in 1965. In the early years, the Department’s research programs were driven by the study of metals for national space, energy, and defense programs. By the 1970s, the research focus expanded to include polymers, ceramics, and semiconductors – research areas that have long served as the backbone of Materials Science. It was during that decade that the Department began garnering broad national and international exposure in the scientific community. Several faculty members became members of the National Academy of Engineering and the department chair at that time was named a member of the National Academy of Sciences.