As far as the material science programs out there, that will depend on the school. Obviously MIT has been at it for a while, so that is a great program. Many of these programs started out under centers that where dedicated to solid state research as soon as universities got their hands on electron microscopes. They were born out of this cross discipline of physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering. Our solid state program at ASU started in 1974. In most schools the material science departments are now in the engineering schools, and they have grown very big. Some of the better programs are MIT, UW, UCSD, UC Berkley, UFL, Northwestern, and ASU!
Depends on the analytical issue; most issues will be a combination of material science, chemistry and mechanical engineering. If it is a signal issue, it could be an electrical engineering test. The best training is on the job, but there are many labs that students now have access to in the later years of undergraduate or graduate work at research universities. At ASU we had many cross discipline labs, for instance we had more than a couple that combined material science and mechanical engineering. So many of these disciplines run into each other these days, it is nice to know that there is training available if students are actively seeking a lab to work in. I think one of the greatest assets I have was the experience working in one of these labs that combined chemistry on one side and material science with device testing on the other.
@janinelove Materials science was a core curriculum at the University of Minnesota when I went to school, and I am more dated than you. :-) My husband also got his degree in materials science at MIT in the 1970s, only I am sure then the materials being studied were much different than today!!!
I find materials science fascinating. I may be dating myself, but when I was in college I don't recall a materials science dept. You could be an engineer, or a chemist, or a chemical engineer (which sounds like it should be materials science, but is vastly different). Now, i know there is a large materials science program at my alma mater, the Univeristy of Delaware. What do you think of the materials science academic programs out there?
I'm thinking about Peg's comment: <<My boss once came up to me and told me that we had to find some way to test a material -- and we had 15 minutes to come up with a new test>>. What are the greatest assets for team members at a lab like this? What should students be studying in school if they want a job in an analytical lab?