Mechanical Engineering

Contact Information

Washburn Shops, 246B
Phone: +1-508-831-5335
Fax: +1-508-831-5178

Richard D. Sisson

Richard D. Sisson, Jr. is the George F. Fuller Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of Manufacturing and Materials Engineering at WPI. He is also the principal investigator (PI) for several projects in WPI’s Center for Heat Treating Excellence. Professor Sisson has been with WPI for 30 years. In addition, he has taught at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and has been a research metallurgist with DuPont Savannah Laboratory and a staff engineer with Exxon Chemical Company.

Professor Sisson received his BS in metallurgical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1969, MS in 1971. In 1975 he earned a PhD in materials science and Engineering from Purdue University. Professor Sisson's main research interest is the application of the fundamentals of diffusion kinetics, modeling, and thermodynamics to the solution of materials problems. He is currently working on modeling the surface-treating of steels and heat-treating aluminum alloys. He has also worked on the effects of deposition-process parameters on the microstructure and cyclic thermal stability of partially stabilized zirconia thermal barrier coatings, and the effects of sub-gamma prime solvus dwells and supersolvus heat up rates on the grain coarsening behavior of a variety of superalloys.

His research has resulted in over 200 publications and another 200 technical presentations. In addition, Professor Sisson has been recognized by WPI for his excellent teaching and research with the inaugural Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize 2007. He has also been recognized with Virginia Tech College of Engineering Academy of Engineering Excellence 2006 and at WPI as the ME Outstanding Advisor, awarded Morgan Worcester Distinguished Instructorship for 2006. He was the WPI Trustees Award winner as Teacher of the Year on 1987. He has advised 12 PhD students and more than 50 MS students. Professor Sisson is a Fellow of ASM International.

Research Interests

  • Heat Treating
  • Materials Processing
  • Corrosion
  • Surface Engineering
  • Green Manufacturing Processes


  • BS, Virginia Tech, 1969
  • MS, Purdue University, 1971
  • PhD, Purdue University, 1975

Featured Publications

  • Mohammed Maniruzzaman, Caterpillar Inc., Xiaolan Wang and Richard D. Sisson, Jr., Worcester Polytechnic Institute, “Cleaning of Steel for Heat Treatment,” ASM Handbook, Volume 4A, Steel Heat Treating Fundamentals and Processes, 2013, pp 265-274.
  • Yang, M., Zimmerman, C., Donahue, D., and Sisson, Jr., R.D, “Modeling the Gas Nitriding Process of Low Alloy Steels,” Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance, Vol. 22 Issue 7, pp. 1892-1898, 2013.
  • Y. Wei, Z. Zurecki, R.D. Sisson, Jr., “Thermodynamic Model-Assisted Analysis of Phase Transformations in Subcritical Austenitic Nitriding”, Surface Engineering, Inzynieria Powierzchni NR 2-2013., Poznan, May 6, 2013. pp 56-62
  • Yingying Wei, Lei Zhang, Richard D. Sisson, Jr., et al., Modeling of carbon distribution during atmosphere and low pressure carburizing processes, Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance, 2012, 22(1).
  • Danielle Belsito, Victor Champagne, Richard Sisson, Jr., “Application of Computational Thermodynamics and Precipitation Kinetics to Light Weight Al Alloy Design”, Proceedings of 13th International Conference on Aluminum Alloys (ICAA13) Symposium: 13th International Conference on Aluminum Alloys (ICAA13), Pittsburgh, PA, June 2012.

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Labs and Centers

  • Center for Heat Treating Excellence

Professional Highlights

  • WPI, Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize 2007
  • Virginia Tech College of Engineering, Academy of Engineering Excellence 2006
  • WPI, Trustee’s Award as Teacher of the Year 1987
  • Fellow of ASM International 1993
  • President of ASM's Heating Society 2007 - 2009
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