A Sterling Achievement

It was a high school math teacher who suggested to Diran Apelian that he consider making a career out of metallurgy. With the dawn of the Space Age it seemed all but certain that there would be a demand for new alloys for rockets and space hardware. Apelian took the advice. In the four decades since, he has become one of the world’s most widely respected authorities on metal processing. Over the past few years, his accomplishments as a research pioneer, educator, leader, and visionary have been recognized internationally with a growing list of awards and honors.

In the winter of 2009, Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering at WPI and founder and director of the university’s Metal Processing Institute, received the highest distinction accorded any engineer: election to the National Academy of Engineering. Established in 1964, the academy comprises about 2,200 of the nation’s most esteemed engineers, who are elected by their peers for seminal contributions to their fields. Apelian was honored for "contributions to solidification processing and for outstanding leadership in engineering education and university industry collaboration."

At the time of the NAE election, Apelian was concluding his term as the 52nd president of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), an international professional organization. Previously, TMS had honored him with the Acta Materialia Inc. J. Herbert Hollomon Award, the Brimacombe Prize, and the Bruce Chalmers Award.

Apelian received an honorary doctorate from Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xian, China. He received the Robert Earll McConnell Award from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, and was elected a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. WPI has honored him with its Board of Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship and the Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize.

Being elected to the NAE "brings so much meaning to all that I have done in my career," Apelian says. "Of course, this honor is not mine alone. I share it with many people---colleagues, co-workers, and, especially, my students. Something like this brings pride not just to me, but to a community, and that is very gratifying."