Alumni Gather to Honor WPI Professor's Induction Into NAE

Worcester Polytechnic Institute alumni recently gathered on the West Coast to celebrate Professor Diran Apelian's induction into the National Academy of Engineering.

Please note picture on the right:  Professor Diran Apelian; Dexter Bailey, Vice President for Development & Alumni Relations; Milton Ross '40; Dorina Ballin; and John Orr, Provost and Senior Vice President; celebrate at the reception.

The ceremony took place during the annual meeting of the National Academy of Engineering, held Oct. 4-5 in Irvine, Calif. Established in 1964, NAE consists of the nation's premier engineers, who are elected by their peers for seminal contributions to their fields. Operating under the congressional charter granted to the National Academy of Sciences in 1863, the academy provides leadership and guidance to government on the application of engineering resources to social, economic, and security problems. There are currently 2,246 NAE members.

A reception for Apelian and WPI alumni was held at the home of Cynthia and Robert Hart '79.

"It was really our sincere pleasure and an honor to host a welcome reception for Diran and fellow alumni and friends on such an important milestone for WPI. Great Leaders like Diran, President Berkey and so many other dedicated members of the faculty have done a tremendous job fostering a proud legacy for WPI which can only serve to benefit the entire WPI family for many years to come," Robert Hart said.

Apelian, an internationally recognized pioneer in metals research and a president of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), was honored for "contributions to solidification processing and for outstanding leadership in engineering education and university-industry collaboration," according to the NAE.

Membership in NAE caps a span of three years in which Apelian has received some of the highest honors accorded members of the metals processing community. In 2007 he received the Acta Materialia Inc. J. Herbert Hollomon Award and the Brimacombe Prize from TMS and was one of six Anniversary Laureates at the TMS annual meeting, which marked the society's 50th anniversary. Apelian, who is one of only 100 living TMS Fellows, received the society's 2006 Bruce Chalmers Award, presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the science and technology of solidification science.

Apelian joined WPI in 1990 as university provost and returned to teaching and research in materials processing six years later. He is the university's Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering and director of the university's Metal Processing Institute. Apelian's pioneering work in molten metal processing, new aluminum alloys, and innovative casting techniques has resulted in more than 500 publications and 11 books, which he co-edited.

During the 2008-09 academic year, Apelian has seized the opportunity to put these ideas into practice by developing and teaching (with Svetlana Nikitina, adjunct assistant professor of humanities and arts) one of WPI's Great Problems Seminars, which are offered to first-year students through the university's innovative first year experience. Called "Making our World: Sustainable Development for the 21st Century," the seminar explores major challenges facing engineering in the 21st century, including energy, transportation, housing, food distribution, recycling, and health care, using material science and sustainability as a unifying theme.

October 15, 2009