Recognizing the long-term strategic significance of materials research, the Materials Council was formed in September 1994 with the stated purpose to develop and execute a plan for Georgia Tech to be recognized as having one of the best materials programs among U.S. universities. High priorities of the Council include:
Today, “materials” is one of the key sponsored research themes at Georgia Tech, with numerous research centers addressing a wide range of applications relevant to industrial competitiveness and societal needs in the 21st century. Looking to the future, there is little question that the trends in global consumer demands will continue to push technology development towards smaller, higher density microelectronics devices, lower density structural materials with enhanced performance and lower cost for infrastructure, new materials for drug delivery, tissue engineering, artificial organs, orthopaedic devices, and early disease detection with specific treatment, clean water, renewable sources of energy, and a host of new, often unforeseen, sustainable materials solutions. Companies with the expertise and vision to tailor materials to meet the needs of customized products and applications with targeted multifunctionality will have enormous advantage in the knowledge-based economy of the 21st century in which Georgia Tech aims to play a pivotal role.
Nanotechnology has developed into a major federal initiative in the first decade of the 21st century. This emphasis, aimed at understanding and exploiting material architecture and properties at increasingly fine length scales, may be expected to continue for some time. It is a key component of facilitating the vision of understanding and controlling structure and properties of materials over a broad range of length scales to affect radically new properties and materials solutions that can transform our way of living and create win-win solutions in an environment with limited resources. The explosion of information from the decoding of the genome of the biosphere is rapidly providing new paths to both nanotechnology and manufacturing. We fully expect that designed materials will better leverage resources and provide a competitive advantage in the coming decades, as Integrated Computational Materials Engineering (ICME) comes to the fore in US industry.
As we look to the future of materials at Georgia Tech, it is clear two initiatives are of vital importance:
Size has its Advantages
Because it is the nation's largest technological institute and engineering school, Georgia Tech has an uncommon breadth in terms of its curriculum and areas of research. Over 160 faculty members have been identified as major contributors to materials-related research on campus. Over 70 undergraduate and 80 graduate courses are regularly offered in materials- related topics across campus, along with materials-related seminars. The overall campus materials efforts are extremely diverse, rich and accessible to graduate and undergraduate students from various disciplines.
Materials education at Georgia Tech reflects a broad base of expertise across the campus. The School of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) provides a focal point for undergraduate and graduate degree programs in materials. Research and course offerings are significantly enriched by the campus-wide effort in materials. In addition, GTRI has significant research activities in processing and characterization of advanced structural materials, fuel cells, high definition display technology and optoelectronic devices, aeroelasticity and adaptive/smart structures, and metrology and measurement of IR and dielectric properties. GTRI consists of groups of research faculty distinct from their academic counterparts, but often engaged in programs of mutual interest and in co- advisement of graduate students.
The faculty and students at Georgia Tech unquestionably represent the Institute's most valuable collective resource. Tech derives its strength from a very talented group of faculty with international recognition for their contributions to materials-related research. The quality of Georgia Tech's undergraduate and graduate students has always been recognized as a strength. Georgia Tech boasts the highest percentage of national merit scholars among the incoming freshman class of any publicly supported university. The average SAT score for entering freshman classes are some 300 points above the national average. The College of Engineering at Georgia Tech continues to rank among the top five of U.S. universities according to the annual U.S. News and World Report survey.
With education as the quest, students are the lifeblood of any University. Boasting a national leadership role in the education of minorities and women, Georgia Tech has a unique combination of diversity and excellence. The Institute is diverse from the geographical perspective as well, with approximately 30% of undergraduate students from outside the state of Georgia, hailing from nearly all U.S. states, territories and possessions. Approximately 25% of Tech's graduate students are from over 70 foreign countries. These students remain loyal to the Institute after graduation as testified by the strength of our nationally recognized alumni association.
In the past, it was possible to compete in the marketplace with little emphasis on development of new technology. However, as our competitive markets become increasingly global in nature, our power to innovate takes on a critical role. No single person or discipline is typically capable of tackling the myriad of issues required for real innovation.
With this in mind, and with the dawn of the information age, several important features characterize the progressive university of the 21st century in materials education and research. First, interdisciplinary cooperation is imperative since further advances require overcoming technology barriers that lie at the interface between disciplines. These barriers cannot be tackled in isolation. For example, it is impossible to separate the performance of microelectronic devices, biological implants, or structural materials from their process of manufacture. Therefore, modern materials education and research encompass virtually all academic disciplines. Second, learning is a lifelong process. Third, the computer is essential as a conduit for information and as a tool for simulation of the behavior of materials and structures. Increasingly, a combined approach of experiment, theory and simulation is necessary to process materials and implement them in new and productive ways.
Georgia Tech has demonstrated its resolve to meet the challenges of the future. These challenges invariably revolve around the subject of materials. Materials have been at the forefront of major technological advances from the dawn of civilization to the most recent developments in modern computers, spacecraft, engineered tissue replacements, and many other equally significant applications. Development of new materials is the enabling technology for major initiatives of the future whose success is strongly linked to the industrial competitiveness and the reduction of trade imbalances for the United States in the 21st century. For example, consider the key requirements for future ground transportation vehicles: low cost, fuel-efficient, safe, impact-resistant, durable, low environmental impact, and recyclable to a high degree. Material developments are the key to meeting each of the above requirements. Similarly, new materials and processing techniques are also necessary to achieve objectives in current areas of high national priority such as telecommunications, space exploration, commercial and military aviation, consumer electronics, clean and renewable energy sources, and biomedical applications.