Materials and Metals: Graduate Area of Work

Covering a broad range of disciplines, engineers in the materials and metals sector have the chance to develop rare alloys or discover brand new materials.
The gradsingapore Team

Almost every engineering and technology industry is dependent on the materials and metals sector, where materials and components are supplied and/or developed for companies and manufacturers.

This sector covers a broad scope: from the provision of raw materials and research into new compounds, to the manufacturing and sale of completed products.

Due to the competitive nature of this industry, it is common for materials suppliers to differentiate themselves through value-added approaches.

One such approach is through specialisation – focusing on specialised products such as coated steel, rare metal alloys, or the development of materials for specific purposes.

What it's like working in the materials and metals industry

This is an exciting sector to work in as you have options at any stage of the production cycle.

Depending on your position you may be involved in back-end responsibilities, such as developing new materials, products, and processes; or front-end duties like the liaising with clients or closing supply deals.

The time needed to execute each project depends on your role and the nature of the project. General maintenance projects or production efficiency improvements don’t usually take more than a few weeks.

However, product expansion projects intended to penetrate new markets can go on for years, as you and your company will need to encourage manufacturers to adopt your materials and solutions.

For roles in materials production lines, expect to work in a fast-paced environment as you will have to handle the daily challenges of keeping facilities running.

You’ll need to be able to apply your technical knowledge and communicate proposed solutions to people at all levels of the production cycle.

Trends and developments in materials and metals

Graduate opportunities in materials and metals in Singapore can be boiled down into two broad categories.

The first is production roles with companies running local materials production facilities (e.g. NatSteel). The second category is operational or sales roles with materials and metals companies running operational/trading hubs in Singapore (e.g. BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto).    

One issue that continues to plague the industry is its harmful effect on the environment. Materials and metals suppliers are thus constantly working on developing efficient production and waste management systems to address problems such as industrial pollution.

The high energy and material cost involved in each production cycle is another chief industrial concern. Many materials companies are re-evaluating their product portfolio and inventory to optimise their resources for maximum profit.

A few major materials suppliers have even spun off certain items in their materials portfolio under separate subsidiary businesses in order to better focus on their core products.

New and more durable materials are also emerging, such as bio- and nano-materials, which may soon determine the growth pathway of the industry. Composites are another huge potential growth area for this sector.

Getting a graduate job in materials and metals engineering

Different positions require different degrees. Product research, for instance, needs graduates from materials-related subjects (e.g. material science and metallurgy), whereas manufacturing roles are usually filled by mechanical, control, manufacturing, and electrical engineering graduates.

Established companies generally run a graduate scheme, giving their new recruits the opportunity to experience working in different roles and departments.

On the other hand, smaller organisations will typically place you directly in a specific role before providing on-the-job training.

If you prefer a position with commercial functions, you can opt to work in divisions such as sales, trading, customer support, operations, or materials supply chain management instead.

The highlights of a career in materials and metals

Most engineers working in the materials and metals industry enjoy the opportunity to develop new products and compounds, especially considering the large-scale industrial applications of such items.

The sheer scale of materials production can be very exciting, considering the fast pace of the industry and its global reach – from mines in one continent to refineries and manufacturers in another.

This translates to a huge variety of possible job roles in this sector as well.

The materials and metals industry seeks graduates in...

  • Automotive
  • Chemical
  • Civil/structural
  • Control
  • Electrical
  • Electronics
  • Environmental
  • Instruments
  • Manufacturing
  • Materials
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanical
  • Physics
  • Software
  • Telecoms