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A major merger

The U’s departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Metallurgical Engineering recently merged into a single academic unit.

Effective July 1, 2019, the University of Utah’s departments of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and Metallurgical Engineering (MET E) have merged into a single academic department administered jointly by the College of Engineering and College of Mines and Earth Sciences.

This change has been advocated by College of Engineering Dean Richard B. Brown and College of Mines and Earth Sciences Dean Darryl Butt and widely supported by the faculty of both previous departments.

The motivation for this merger was to create one of the best departments of materials science and engineering in the country. The new academic unit, called the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, will have strengths in metals, ceramics, polymers, electrochemistry, nanotechnology, biocompatible materials, semiconductors, hydro-, electro- and pyrometallurgy and mineral processing.

Michael Simpson, department chair, Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Metallurgical engineering professor and department chair, Michael Simpson, has become the chair of the new department. Professor Feng Liu stepped down as chair of the former MSE department after serving for more than 7 years.

“This merger is really the best possible path forward for the students and faculty of the two previous departments and the university. Together, we can elevate the University of Utah’s materials program to be one of the best in the country—attracting new investments from industry and government while also attracting the best and brightest students,” said Simpson. “Having the department connected to both the College of Engineering and College of Mines and Earth Sciences puts us in an excellent position to have a strong impact over all of campus and promote the idea of One U.”

Any faculty members who had adjunct or research professor appointments in either of these departments have an adjunct or research professor appointment in the new department. Students in the MSE department will enjoy all of the benefits of being members of both COE and CMES and have the opportunity to complete their degrees under current requirements. The faculty will evaluate options for consolidating the bachelor’s and graduate degrees in materials sciences and engineering and in metallurgical engineering into unified degrees with different tracks, but current students will have the option of graduating under their current programs.

Brown congratulated Liu on his job as the MSE chair, saying, “Feng is a model researcher, an excellent teacher, an entrepreneur, and a talented musician.  It has been a pleasure for me to work closely with him through this time.”

Since joining U in 2000, Liu has developed into one of the world’s leading experts in the fields of surface science and epitaxial growth of thin films, and the theory of nanostructures, graphene and topological materials. He won the prestigious Senior Humboldt Award in 2008 and recently was awarded the university’s Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award

An associate chair for MSE will soon be selected and announced. The main office for the new MSE department will be in CME Room 304. The metallurgical engineering department office in the William Browning Building, Room 412 will remain open to provide office support for faculty, staff, and students. The new MSE department will occupy space in both the Browning and CME buildings. There are currently no plans to change class or laboratory locations.

This merger is a major undertaking by the faculty and staff of the previous departments and will take time to be completed. For any questions or concerns, please contact Simpson at or one of the administrative managers, Angela Nelson at or Sara Wilson at

The website for the new department is Town hall meetings for students will soon be scheduled, including one meeting for graduate students in the summer and another for undergraduate students at the beginning of the fall semester.