A strong MEMS developer must have three pillars of essential knowledge - design, materials, and fabrication process. Simply put, materials determines the mechanical and electrical properties and, as a result, influence the design. Fabrication process provide different available geometries and materials combinations, and therefore affects the design. The materials and fabrication process are certainly intricately involved.
This figure illustrates the interactions among the three pillars of MEMS graphically.
The intricate involvement of design, materials and processing makes MEMS difficult to learn and master. Design of mechanical elements is typically taught in mechanical engineering majors, but not other majors. The design of circuits is taught in electrical engineering majors. Typically, only students in microelectronics major learn about fabrication processes in undergraduate schools. Materials involve very deep knowledge that are typically not discussed outside of material science departments.