Launched in the 1960s as an interdisciplinary program taught by professors from Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering departments, Materials Science became a degree program in 1985 and was established as a department in 1998. The first new department in the College of Engineering since 1914, the venture was spearheaded by a former IBM research scientist, Dr. John F. Rabolt. Initial faculty hires were other leading industry professionals who could help build a “top-10” department that would educate students, gain national prominence and be a successful research center for Delaware. A new curriculum was developed based on six technical competencies, professional workforce readiness and entrepreneurship. In 2003, the Department of Materials Science was ranked 32nd in a survey of 155 materials science departments worldwide. Home to a world-class electron microscope facility, the department has gained a national reputation as a research leader in areas such as biomolecular materials, electroactive polymers, energy storage materials, nanotechnology and polymer processing. Today, its faculty is applying materials science technology in the development of heart patches, electroluminescent flat panel displays, lightweight armor for civilian transport, and genes that can instruct cells to create new polymers.