The discipline of materials science involves investigating the relationships that exist between the structure and properties of materials.
In contrast, materials engineering is, on the basis of these structure-property correlation, designing or engineering the structure of a material to produce a predetermined set of properties.
From a functional perspective, the role of a material scientist is to develop or synthesize new material, whereas a materials engineer is called upon to create new products or systems using existing materials, and/or to develop techniques for processing materials. Most graduates in materials programs are trained to be both materials scientist and materials engineers. Because many an applied scientist or engineer, whether mechanical, civil, chemical, or electrical, will at one time or another be exposed to a design problem involving materials, materials scientist and engineers totally involved in the investigation and design of materials are needed.