Undergraduate Spotlights

"The reason we’re at a university is to interact with students. Inspiring students is a huge part of our mission."

MSE Professor Beth Opila

Here's what some of our students have to say about their experience with MSE:

  • Rachel McNamara, Class of 2022

    Rachel McNamara, Class of 2022

    I originally took Introduction to Materials Science to fulfill my science elective requirement, but I found the material to be some of the most engaging and important that I had ever learned. As just about every MSE professor at UVA will tell you, everything is made of something, and having a chance to study that something, improve that something, or make something completely novel makes MSE one of the most interesting disciplines. And beyond the discipline, every single professor that I have interacted with in the department has blown me away with their passion for the subject, their research, and their care for students. I have met and worked with amazingly kind graduate students that will more than gladly sit down with me to explain some of the niche science behind their projects, even if I'm doing low level data collection or analysis for them. Part of why I chose to come to UVA is because a lot of education at college occurs outside of the classroom from peers. Every person that I have met through MSE classes and research has undoubtedly enriched my college experience, and I am so glad to have found a place within this department. I am especially excited to pursue an interdisciplinary project using deep learning to analyze oxide growth in environmental barrier coatings using a grant award from the Double Hoo program.

  • Crestienne DeChaine, Class of 2022

    Crestienne DeChaine, Class of 2022

    Materials Science is the perfect fit for me because it combines a variety of different disciplines, especially chemistry and physics, and has unlimited real-world applications. My interest in Material Science was first piqued in my MSE 2090 class (Introduction to Materials Science & Engineering) which was recommended to me during Summer Orientation. Without this pivotal suggestion, I would not have been exposed to this unique field. As a double major in Materials Science and Mechanical Engineering, I am developing a complex and nuanced understanding of materials properties that will prepare me well for the future. In addition to having the privilege of taking classes with incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic professors, I have also had the honor of learning from very dedicated administrators, graduate students, and peers, who have taken the time to share their passion and interests with me. I can directly apply what I learn in the classroom to my research into high temperature material creep behavior. The research I assist with has strong implications for the aerospace industry, and it is very rewarding to know that it will help make future airplane engines safer and more reliable.

  • Marcus Dozier, Class of 2021

    Marcus Dozier, Class of 2021

    I was introduced to MSE through the Introduction to Materials Science course I took to fulfill my science elective for my Aerospace Engineering degree. The course was very well taught and I found the content to be very interesting. The course showed that materials were everywhere in engineering, impacting everything from mechanical to electrical engineering, and understanding/manipulating materials was an important aspect of the engineering design process. I chose to pursue MSE as an undergrad because the subject matter is very closely intertwined with my other major, aerospace engineering, and the two seemed to go hand in hand. A lot of the concepts taught through MSE I was able to directly use/reference in MAE courses and projects. Every engineer should try and take at least one MSE course, as it opens a whole new world of understanding of the world from mechanics to electronics to corrosion.

  • LeeYung Chang, Class of 2022

    LeeYung Chang, Class of 2022

    I have found Materials Science to be a fascinating subject, both as its own standalone topic and as a sort of knowledge supplement to some of the courses in Aerospace Engineering - in fact, thanks to my materials knowledge there are a few aerospace courses I've gained a bit of a head start on! The clear enthusiasm that the department has for the subject is infectious, and can carry a discussion from stacking spheres all the way to how dislocations glide through material seamlessly - though a discussion of that extent would probably come in the form of a few days' lectures. Even outside of school, I found the internship and scholarship I have now as a direct result of going into materials science. I took an introductory course on a whim, and it has played a key role in deciding my future.

  • Connor Headley, Class of 2020

    Connor Headley, Class of 2020

    My interest in the field of Materials Science is rooted in the fact that when you look back over the course of human achievement, one fact is abundantly clear: the limits of human beings have never lied in our creativity. A constant flood of ingenuity has allowed us to build and progress in ways that were previously unimaginable. However, with this advancement comes the realization that the only resource that continues to limit us are the materials at our disposal. The community and resources in the Materials Science department at UVA have provided me with an invaluable opportunity to confront real-world problems head on and to seek out their solutions through creation and application.

  • Erin Dubas, Class of 2021

    Erin Dubas, Class of 2021

    UVA MSE is preparing me to contribute to the workforce in meaningful ways and to equipe me with both technical knowledge and crucial soft skills that I believe will make me an asset from the get-go, whether in research, industry, government, or some combination of those environments. One thing that makes the MSE department at UVA so remarkable are the people - the professors always make time for me, whether helping with class concepts and assignments or helping prepare a presentation for an interview, the administrators are also readily available to help, are responsive, and are regularly sending jobs our way and my MSE peers are constantly lifting each other up. Through my research I’ve been afforded opportunities to work with, present to, and develop relationships with people at other universities (e.g., MIT, Ohio State) and with those who work for industry giants, including Rolls-Royce, the Department of Defense, the Naval Research Laboratories, and NASA. No matter what field you’re interested in, each relies on our understanding of materials; this makes a materials scientist and engineer incredibly valuable, regardless of where you go.

MSE Undergrads in the News