In the decade after the publication of the report “Science, The Endless Frontier” that made the case for government funding of scientific research, professors at Northwestern were now actively engaged in materials research sponsored by a wide variety of agencies. Morris Fine’s experience at Bell laboratories and the Manhattan project and his strong research program enabled him to make the case to the Northwestern administration to establish the first Department of Materials Science in 1954. The radical idea was to bring together the study of polymers, metals, ceramics, and electronic materials under the now famous processing-structure-properties paradigm. Critical to the development of the department (and Northwestern) was the ARPA-sponsored Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory that was established in 1959. The interplay between visionary professors, bold administrators, and stable government funding in the development of the Materials Science and Engineering department at Northwestern will be discussed.