Vision, Mission & Values

pictures of students enjoying various social activities


Our vision is to collaboratively overcome the intertwined grand challenges of sustainability and transformative learning through our materials engineering program.


Our mission, the thing we do every day, is to be a vibrant, creative and effectual learning community that cultivates the unique capabilities of each individual to thrive in a complex, interconnected and ever-changing world. 

Those who get a degree in materials engineering with us will experience a vigorous, practice-oriented education that lays a solid foundation of competence so that each can contribute to their communities in the ways that they see as valuable.

We aim for our graduates, within 3-5 years of finishing, to:

  • Holistically address complex challenges, drawing from materials engineering understanding and life experiences;
  • Live meaningful, socially-beneficial lives, enriched by their engineering education;
  • Exemplify proactive adaptive capacity throughout their lives; 
  • Communicate effectively in different contexts.


We, learning, scientific and technical competence, humanistic and social competence, thriving in balance, the richness that comes from diversity in all its forms, joy, and the whole person.  As you can see in these pictures, we like to have fun together.

We also value a focus on the future and notice that the world is rapidly changing around us. This means that we must develop adaptive capacities to resiliently navigate the future.

In terms of the global population, those of us who are fortunate enough to pursue a higher education represent about 20% of the planet. This is a great privilege and freedom. We also recognize that our educational freedoms come with responsibility, including the responsibility of continuously improving our program.

Thinking Globally

Chinese characters for crisis

The Chinese word "crisis" has two characters: danger and opportunity. This word embodies where we are as a human species. Global human activity is endangering the health of the biological support systems on which life depends; political and social unrest is fueled by differential access to human needs...danger. Within the international science and engineering community, we understand that these looming humanitarian challenges are both caused by human activity and can be overcome by humans if we work together. Our opportunity is to creatively collaborate to overcome these grand challenges. How? It begins with systems thinking.

Systems Thinking

At the end of the last century, scientists recognized that we live in a complex, interconnected and ever-changing world...the world as a dynamic system. Living systems are dynamic. What can we learn from them about life cycles, resilience and sustainable design?

graphic that illustrates systems thinking

Much of the industrial era was based on the world as simple, equilibrium, linear mechanistic behavior. So, systems thinking is a new "thinking" that we believe is needed to tackle today's challenges. In MATE, we are building the capacity to think in systems throughout our curriculum.

Developing Holistically

"Education is not merely acquiring knowledge, gathering and correlating facts; it is to see the significance of life as a whole....We may take degrees and be mechanically efficient without being intelligent. Intelligence is not mere information; it is not derived from books, nor does it consist of clever self-defensive responses and aggressive assertions. One who has not studied may be more intelligent than the learned... Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity, in oneself and in others, is education."
-Krishnamurti, Education and The Significance of Life

It is our belief that one's holistic development is critical to a balanced, enriching life.

Acting Locally

While many of our grand challenges are at a global scale, our actions to transition to sustainable ways of living happen at the local scale...beginning with ourselves. We recognize that this is a grand journey that will take many years. For us, this means creating a learning environment that enables every individual to thrive. One of the ways that we are on this journey is in partnering with community citizens, non-profit organizations and businesses. In doing so, we recall that sustainability includes social equity.

Related Content


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Why Materials Engineering?

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Contact Us


Materials Engineering Department
1 Grand Avenue
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

Location: 41A-229

Phone: (805) 756-2568


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