In 1953, when Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the top of Mount Everest, they wore heavy layers of wool and cotton. On their way up, they slept in a cotton tent. Today’s mountain climbers wear lightweight polyester fleeces that keep them warm. They have thin, wind-resistant shells to help keep out the cold air, and warm boots that are light enough to run in. Tents are waterproof and windproof.
High-tech gear like that wouldn’t be possible without modern materials. Everything is made out of something, whether cotton, titanium, or GORE-TEX -- materials engineering majors study that something.