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  • Subject area(s): Engineering
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  • Published on: 7th September 2019
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Ceramics are inorganic, nonmetallic materials. They are usually crystalline and are compounds formed between metallic and nonmetallic elements. Ceramics include, but are not limited to, glass, enamel, glass-ceramics (glass containing ceramic crystals), and inorganic cement-materials. As ceramic technology has improved, the definition of the word ceramics has started to include a much wider range of materials.

Ceramic engineers design and produce new items, techniques, and equipment, that are used to process different ceramic materials. They work with a wide range of products like nuclear reactors, glassware, and electronics. Many ceramic engineers specialize in a certain area, including research and development, where they study and develop new materials in synthetic form. Ceramic engineering is very important to society. For example, ceramic engineering has helped to improve transportation. A new windshield developed by PPG blocks almost ninety percent of the sun’s infrared rays. This helps to keep the inside of the car cool, prevent the interior of the car from becoming faded, reduces glare, and prevents the windshield from being scratched or damaged. In 2006, this special windshield was available exclusively in the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Magnum, and Dodge Charger. Ceramics also improve the quality of life for those with hip replacements. Over the past twenty years, ceramic engineers have developed a special type of oxide called zirconia, which is durable, has bio-inert properties, and low wear rates. This material is replacing alumina heads, mostly due to it’s smaller diameter, which reduces patient trauma during the hip replacement operation.

Advanced Cerametrics fibers are used in several of Head’s tennis rackets, and this allows up to fifteen percent more power when hitting the ball. Rackets using these piezo ceramic fibers were the best selling tennis rackets in the world in 2005-2006, and have been clinically proven to eliminate tennis elbow. Recently in Erlangen, Germany, at Morgan Technical Ceramics, they are working with a European space development program, and are researching ion propulsion systems. They are trying to create a lightweight alternative to regular chemical propulsion, an ion engine which will have the ability to push spacecraft up to ten times faster, using the same amount of fuel, which will significantly increase travel distance, and decrease vehicle size. Ceramics, are both literally and figuratively the building blocks of construction. Clay is a ceramic material that has many uses, and has existed for thousands of years. Clay brick, for instance, can withstand hurricanes. A recent study by the Brick Industry Association shows that homes built with brick offer dramatically more protection from wind-blown debris that homes built with vinyl or fiber-cement siding. Also, clay roofing tile helps save energy. According to the Tile Roofing Institute, due to the mass and ventilation of clay tile roofing, heat transference is reduced by at least fifty percent, compared to a typical asphalt shingle roof. However, if these clay tiles are coated, they reduce the transfer of heat up to seventy percent.

In 2012, it was reported that that ceramic engineers with 1-4 years of experience can earn average salaries from $55,296 to $74,576. However, more experienced ceramic engineers that have 5-9 years of experience can earn average salaries from $62,363 to $81,600. The median salary is $67,110 per year. Obviously, many companies that specialize in ceramics hire many ceramic engineers, including the companies Morgan Technical Ceramics, Advanced Cerametrics, PPG, and SCHOTT North America. The type of companies that hire ceramic engineers varies greatly. MIV Therapeutics Inc., Intel, and various car and sports companies hire ceramic engineers, as well. Projects that these companies are working on are very different. Morgan Technical Ceramics is working on an ion engine for spacecraft and next generation mobile phone antennae, whereas PPG produces more efficient windshields. Also, MIV Therapeutics Inc., is developing biocompatible coatings and advanced drug delivery systems for implantable medical devices, whereas Intel is building insulating walls and switching gates for its 45 nanometer transistors.

In the United States, there are only two colleges that have ABET accredited courses in the field of ceramic engineering. These colleges are Alfred University and Missouri S&T. At Alfred University, students taking this course will take Introduction to Engineering, Ceramic Engineering Explorations Laboratory, and foundation courses in math chemistry and physics, during their first year. At Missouri S&T, students in their first year will take Study and Careers in Engineering, General Chemistry, General Chemistry Laboratory, Calculus With Analytical Geometry, Exposition and Argumentation, Materials Chemistry,  Engineering Physics, and Introduction to Engineering Design. During high school, at Staten Island Technical High School, the CTE class, AutoCad, will help prepare students specifically for the Introduction to Engineering Design class offered at Missouri S&T, which, like the AutoCad class at Staten Island Technical High School, utilizes computer aided design tools to assist in design analysis. In ceramic engineering, like most fields of engineering, the ability to analyze designs is very important. Clearly, the CTE courses of physics, electronics, and pre-calculus are important in any field of engineering. Perhaps he most important Staten Island Technical CTE class to take is the Career and Financial Management- Economics. This class is not just helpful to those that are interested in a career in ceramic engineering, this class is helpful to anyone that plans on having a career in any field.

I was drawn to this field of engineering because it is so diverse in how and what it is used for. As I mentioned previously, ceramic engineering is used for in so many different fields, which allows for one who has a degree in this subject to never feel confined to a small range of how they can use their knowledge. I personally, have never known what I want to major in at college, nor what job I may enjoy having as a career. Having a degree in ceramic engineering offers freedom in career paths that other majors lack. I never want to feel restricted with my job, nor regret my choice of degree, so perhaps I will look more in depth, into potential jobs I could achieve using a degree in ceramic engineering.

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