The Materials Research Center (MRC) was constructed under the first facilities grant awarded by NASA on September 25, 1962. According to James E. Webb, NASA administrator, the purpose of the grant program was "to house interdisciplinary activities in space related sciences and technology to universities which are making substantial contributions to the national space program." The NASA grant provided for a $1.5 million, 56,000 sq. ft. research facility. An additional grant from the National Science Foundation for $500,000 provided funding for an Engineering Science Research wing. The project, totaling 96,000 square feet, was completed by architects Skidmore, Owings and Merrill at a cost of $2.6 million. Twenty-five laboratories, designed in part by faculty, provided facilities for powder metallurgy, polymer, ceramics, ultrasonics, cryogenics, corrosion and other materials research. The material research program was directed by the Interdisciplinary Material Research Committee consisting of eight faculty members, the director of the research division and an administrative director.
The MRC was formally dedicated April 23, 1966 as part of the "Man and Materials" symposium. Detler W. Bronk, chair of the RPI Board of Trustees and president of Rockefeller University; Arthur Schlesinger, author and historian; J. Erik Jonsson, trustee and CEO of Texas Instruments; and Chester F. Carlson, inventor of xerography and consultant to Xerox Corp. were among the guest speakers at the event.