Throughout history, materials science and engineering have actually formed the real underpinning of human progress. This is why we talk about the bronze age, iron age, and so on. There are no agreed-upon equivalents for the 20th and 21st centuries, though. This may be because technology is changing too fast. Today's alloys, plastics, engineering ceramics, textiles, and adhesives are not just better than those of a few decades ago, they're vastly more advanced.
This fact makes materials science and engineering a key function in any company that designs new products, whether airframes or coffee makers. Relatively few materials engineers actually design new compounds or composites. Instead, their role is usually to assist other engineers and product designers in finding ways to use modern materials to solve problems more effectively.
Materials science and engineering is therefore a career that appeals to people with broad interests. Fundamental science, product design, and manufacturing all come into play in this job. In addition, new developments in nanotechnology, 3D printing, clean energy, and bioengineering offer the chance to work at the cutting edge of world-changing innovation.