Principal Materials Engineer

  • Blacksburg, VA, USA
  • 2022-09-22

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Our materials engineering researchers work directly with multi-disciplinary project teams to understand key manufacturing and product challenges and determine how material developments and surface treatment technologies can be used to solve them. This includes problem assessment, material development & characteristic evaluations, application development and testing, prototyping, and more. Our team members are an integral part of the company eco-system, contributing to a dynamic environment of multiple projects, collaborating with colleagues from a variety of our operating companies, academics & students, suppliers, and other applied research centers.

Don’t meet every single requirement? Studies have shown that women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, individuals experiencing disability and BIPOC are less likely to apply to jobs unless they meet every single qualification. We are dedicated to building a diverse, inclusive and authentic workplace, so if you’re excited about this role but your past experience doesn’t align perfectly with every qualification in the job description, we encourage you to apply anyway. You may be just the right candidate for this or other roles.

As Principal Materials Engineer, you will provide the team guidance founded on a theoretical basis tempered by industrial experiences to shape durable solutions. You will contribute to leadership helping to shape the methodologies and processes utilized across a broad spectrum of materials.


  • Transform customer specifications into exploratory projects leading to proof-of-concept demonstrations
  • Design factory automation to implement materials development into fabrication processes.
  • Contribute to overall (systems, electrical, & mechanical) design and analysis using available technology tools (such as, SolidWorks, AutoCAD, Excel, etc.) and analytical methods (brainstorming, thought experimentation, etc.).
  • Collaborate with Mechanical Design, Systems, and Manufacturing Engineers to optimize system performance.
  • Genuine enthusiasm for the application of research to adding value to manufacturing processes and product development.
  • Approaches work with a collaborative, team first mentality; proactive, positive with a can-do attitude.
  • Employ best engineering practices in the conception, design, and analysis of material solutions.
  • Maintain a safe working environment and utilize safe work practices in the office, manufacturing spaces, and at production facilities.
  • Provide explanations on metals, coatings, composites, non-metallics interactions in applications and sustainability topics as Subject Matter Expert
  • Collaborate and support all operating companies and partners throughout project lifecycle.
  • Establish and maintain a network within all operating companies and collaborative partners.
  • Assume responsibility to continually improve your efficiencies and skills


  • PhD/MS – Degree in Materials Science, Mechanical, Chemical, or similar engineering
  • 10 years progressive experience
  • Holistic approach to material development and application in conjunction with the full portfolio of operating companies including material discovery & performance, coatings, adhesives, and characterization
  • Establish and contribute to strategy definitions in the areas of corrosion, alternative materials for health & sustainability, as well as fabrication methods of industrial products
  • Proficient programming in at least one of the following languages: FORTRAN, Python, or C/C++/C#
  • Strong background and Interest in material analysis to industrial applications
  • In-depth knowledge of material properties, metallics & non-metallics, and the processes used to create such materials
  • Experienced in material characterization techniques (e.g., FESEM, optical microscopy, TGA, DSC, etc.) and how to interpret such results
  • Experience in developing & conducting accelerated ageing, environmental impact, and failure testing of material systems and how to interpret such results
  • Excels at problem definition; able to work effectively with open ended or ambiguous problem statements and/or applications and be comfortable in adapting strategies according to results.
  • Solid experience with Excel, Minitab, MS Teams, and PowerPoint
  • Experience leading diverse project teams. Effective communicator with diverse teams and stakeholders
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills; clearly conveys ideas at both technical and non-technical levels; must be an active listener.
  • An effective steward of project budgets and schedules.
  • Contribute to the development of the group through mentorship.