Diran Apelian Honored by American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers

WPI Professor and Director of the Metal Processing Institute Receives the Robert Earll McConnell Award for 'Beneficial Service to Mankind'
January 04, 2010

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WORCESTER, Mass. – Diran Apelian, Howmet Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and director of the university’s Metal Processing Institute, has been selected to receive the 2010 Robert Earll McConnell Award from the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME). The award will be presented during the AIME's annual banquet and awards ceremony in Seattle on Feb. 16, 2010.

Founded in 1871, AIME is one of the nation's oldest engineering societies. It is part of the Engineering Founder Society, along with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Named for a prominent mining engineer and AIME member, the McConnell Award was established in 1968 to recognize beneficial service to mankind by engineers through significant contributions that advance a nation's standard of living or replenish its natural resources.

Apelian, an internationally recognized pioneer in metals research, was honored “for working tirelessly for over 40 years dedicated to teaching, mentoring future engineering leaders, advancing the science and technology of material science and engineering (MSE) by conducting and supervising fundamental and applied research, publishing and presenting many technical papers, books, and patents, applying fundamental knowledge to industrial applications, establishing several academic-industry consortia, and advocating the broader role of MSE in solving global human challenges."

In 2009 Apelian concluding his term as the 52nd president of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS), one of the four AIME member societies. Also in 2009, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an engineer. Previously, he had received the Acta Materialia Inc. J. Herbert Hollomon Award, the Brimacombe Prize, and the Bruce Chalmers Award from TMS and was one of six Anniversary Laureates at the TMS annual meeting, which marked the society’s 50th anniversary. Apelian is one of only 100 living TMS Fellows.

He was the first person from WPI to be named a fellow of APMI International, the professional society for individuals involved in powder metallurgy technology and particulate materials. He is also an honorary member of the French Materials Engineering Society, a fellow of APMI and ASM, and a foreign member of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia. He received an honorary doctorate from Northwestern Polytechnic University in Xian, China, in 1997.

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. The Metals Processing Institute, an industry-university alliance he founded at WPI in 1996, is dedicated to research in such areas as metal casting, powder metallurgy, and metal heat treating. With more than 100 corporate partners, it is the largest industry-university consortium in North America.

In addition to his leadership in metals processing, Apelian has long been an advocate for redefining engineering education and changing the popular perception of engineers. Over the past two years, he has co-taught (with Svetlana Nikitina, adjunct assistant professor of humanities and arts) “Grand Challenges,” one of WPI’s Great Problems Seminars, which are offered to first year students through the university’s innovative first year experience. The seminar explores major challenges facing engineering in the 21st century using materials science and sustainability as a unifying theme.

Apelian received an undergraduate degree in metallurgical engineering from Drexel University and an Sc.D. in materials science from MIT. He worked at Bethlehem Steel's Homer Research Laboratories and then joined Drexel, where he ultimately was named vice provost. At WPI, Apelian served as university provost from 1990 to 1996. Since then, he has focused on teaching and research in materials processing.WPI has twice honored him: in 2006 with its Board of Trustees' Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Scholarship, and in 2009 with its Chairman's Exemplary Faculty Prize.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI was one of the nation's first engineering and technology universities. WPI's14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, management, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and PhD degrees. WPI's world-class faculty work with students in a number of cutting-edge research areas, leading to breakthroughs and innovations in such fields as biotechnology, fuel cells, and information security, materials processing, and nanotechnology. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university's innovative Global Projects Program. There are more than 25 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.