Mechanical Engineering

Contact Information

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Phone: +1-508-831-5992
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Diran Apelian

Dr. Apelian received his BS degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Drexel University (1968) and his Doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT (1972). After graduating from MIT, he joined Bethlehem Steel’s Homer Research Laboratories where he co-developed the Ultra-Form series of high strength low alloy steels. He joined Drexel University in 1976 and held various positions at Drexel, including professor, Head of the Department of Materials Engineering, Associate Dean of the College of Engineering, and subsequently Vice-Provost of the University.

He joined WPI in July 1990 as the Institute’s Provost and led the mission of broadening WPI’s academic programs and research agenda. After a six-year tenure as Provost, he headed the Metal Processing Institute (MPI) at WPI, which is an industry-university alliance with Centers in Metal Casting, Heat Treating, and Resource Recovery and Recycling. MPI is supported by over 80 corporate partners, as well as funding from private foundations and the federal government. During the last decade, MPI has developed into one of the nation’s premiere research centers dedicated to metal processing. The Center for Resource Recovery and Recycling is the Nation’s first center dedicated to recycling of materials; it is an NSF sponsored I/UCRC Center.

Professor Diran Apelian is widely recognized for his innovative work in metal processing and for his leadership as a researcher and educator. His research has helped establish mechanisms and fundamentals in metal processing and helped lay the foundations for significant industrial developments. In particular, his work in the fields of molten metal is processing, plasma processing, spray casting, and shape casting of aluminum alloys can be described as pioneering work. More recently, his work in the development of technologies to recover and recycle materials is critically important for a sustainable future.

A characteristic of Professor Apelian’s work is that his scholarly output is valued and utilized by the industrial sector. Much of today’s industrial developments in shaped aluminum castings has been influenced by the work of Professor Apelian and his students. Apelian has a unique talent for building bridges between the industrial and academic communities, and for identifying fundamental scientific issues holding back the development of a given technology.

He has over 500 publications to his credit and twelve books, which he has written or co-edited. For his achievements, Professor Apelian has been honored with a number of awards. These include the Howard Taylor Gold Medal in 1987 by AFS, as well as the Scientific Merit Award of AFS (1990); he is an Honorary Member of NADCA. In 1990 Apelian received ASM’s Henry Marion Howe Medal for the best paper or series of papers in Metallurgical Transactions by AIME. In March 1992, at the TMS Annual Meeting, he received the Champion H. Mathewson Gold Medal for his contributions to the literature. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate and was named Honorary Professor of Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xian, China, in 1997. He is an Honorary Member of the French Materials Engineering Society- SF2M (2000). He is a Fellow of ASM, APMI and TMS, and was the recipient of the Bruce Chalmers Award in 2006 awarded by TMS.

In 2006 WPI recognized Apelian with the Board of Trustees’ award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship. Apelian was recognized for his work on society and technology with Acta Materiallia’s prestigious Hollomon Award (2007). He is also the recipient of the Brimacombe prize (2007) for being a world ambassador, an innovator, and a visionary for a better global society. Apelian received the Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize in 2009, given by the Trustees of WPI, and the British Foundry Medal in 2010. In 2010, he was the recipient of the National Materials Advancement Award at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. In 2011, he was named Tsinghua University Global Scholar Fellow and delivered 5 key seminal lectures at Tsunghua.

He is a member of the NAE (National Academy of Engineering), European Academy of Science, and the Armenian Academy of Sciences. Professor Apelian is a member of various professional societies including TMS, ASM, AFS, NADCA, and MPIF. He serves on several corporate boards, as well as on the strategic/science councils of several global corporations. His contributions to Howmet Corporation led to the establishment of the Howmet Chair Professorship at WPI, a chair that he currently holds.

He has served on, and chaired, several National Materials Advisory Boards for the National Research Council. He is a Board member of IHSAN an NGO for Humanitarian support. Apelian is a Trustee Emeritus of Norwich University in Vermont, and has served on MIT’s and Drexel University’s Advisory Boards. He was Chief-Editor of the web-based Journal of Light Metals, served on the Editorial board of the International Journal of Cast Metals Research, and the Encyclopedia of Materials Science and Engineering. Prof. Apelian chaired the Public and Government Affairs Committee of TMS (1998-2002), and is an active advocate for Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) specifically as it pertains to global issues.

In 2004 he delivered the Distinguished Lecture on Materials and Society at the ASM-TMS Congress, and continues lecturing on such issues around the world. In 2005 he was invited to address the Norwegian Research Council about MSE’s role in ensuring a sustainable planet, and in 2007 at TMS’ 50th Anniversary he was a Laureate Lecturer and presented the Future of MSE – the next 50 years. Diran Apelian served as President of TMS for 2008/2009.

Research Interests

  • Clean Metal/Melt Refining/Continous Casting
  • Plasma Processing / Spray Forming
  • Powder Metallurgy / Nanostructured Materials
  • Aluminum Casting / Semi-Solid Processing/Thermal Processing/Heat Treating
  • Resource Recovery and Recycling


  • Sc.D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 1972
  • B.S. Drexel University, 1968

Featured Publications

  • 10-01 S.K. Chaudhury, V. Warke, S. Shankar, and D. Apelian “Localized Recrystallization in Cast Al-Si-Mg Alloy Heat Treatment: Dilatometric and Calorimetric Studies”, Metallurgical & Material Transactions A: Volume 42, Issue 10 (2011), pp. 3160-3169
  • 10-09 S. Li, K. Sadayappan and D. Apelian, "Characterization of Hot Tearing in Al Cast Alloys: methodology and procedures", International Journal of Cast Metals Research, Vol. 24 no. 2, pp 88-95, 2011.
  • 10-12 D. Apelian, “Empowering First Year Students by Immersion in a “Grand Challenges Course: Sustainable Development for the 21st Century”, Journal of Metals, Vol. 62, No. 4, April, 2010 pp. 8 and 74.
  • 11-01 C. Borgonovo, D. Apelian, M.M. Makhlouf, “Aluminum Nanocomposites for Elevated Temperature Applications”, JOM, Vol. 63 No. 2 (February 2011), pp 57-64.
  • 11-12 D. Apelian, "Materials Science and Engineering's Pivotal Role for Sustainable Development for the 21st Century", MRS Bulletin, V37, April 2012, pp 1-5.

View a Complete List

Professional Highlights

  • The National Materials Advancement Award 2010 For outstanding capabilities in advancing the multi-disciplinary field of materials science and engineering
  • Robert Earll McConnell Award (AIME) 2010 For advancing the science & technology of Material Science and Engineering (MSE) and advocating a broader role of MSE in solving global human challenges.
  • The Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize (WPI) 2009 For extraordinary achievements as a researcher and educator, national leadership in metals processing, and tireless devotion to the cause of innovation in engineering education.
  • National Academy of Engineering (USA) 2009 For contributions to solidification processing and for outstanding leadership in engineering.
  • The Brimacombe Prize 2006 For sustained contribution to materials process engineering and for being a world ambassador, and an innovator and a visionary for a better global society.
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