The science of the solid state has joined nuclear science and molecular biology as a field of major importance in the latter half of the 20th century. It took particular shape during the genesis of solid-state electronics and the post-transistor era of integrated circuits for telecommunications, computers, and digital signal machines. However, these developments were soon joined by techniques from the ancient fields of metallurgy and ceramics and contributions from the more current fields of synthetic polymers, rubbers, plastics, and modified bioorganic substances. This vast realm was characterized by a National Academy of Sciences study of the 1970's as "materials science and engineering." The public, as well as the scientific and engineering community, are currently concerned about the uses of research and development and the applications of knowledge for national progress. Consideration is given here to how well we are using the science of materials for industrial strength and such governmental objectives as national security and energy economy.