Actions of MIT’s 15th president have ‘grown to inspire generations,’ Reif says.
Professor Thomas W. Eagar, recognized internationally as an expert in the physics and chemistry of welding and other metal-joining processes, has been appointed head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering where he has been a faculty member since 1976. Professor Edwin L. Thomas, widely noted for his work in polymer physics and engineering, has been named associate head.
The appointments, announced by Dean Joel Moses of the School of Engineering, were effective January 16.
Professor Eagar succeeds Professor Merton C. Flemings, department head since 1982.
Dr. Flemings, the Toyota Professor of Materials Processing, world renowned for his research and writings on the solidification processing of metals and materials, will return to teaching and research.
Dr. Eagar, the POSCO Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is co-director of the Leaders for Manufacturing Program. Dr. Thomas, the Morris Cohen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, is director of the Program in Polymer Science and Technology. He joined the faculty in 1990.
Professor Eagar has been involved in education and research relating to materials processing and manufacturing for many years. He assisted last year in the formation of the Materials Processing and Manufacturing Institute, which places graduate students from several departments and schools within MIT in internships lasting seven months at industrial sites with close faculty supervision.
Professor Eagar, who received the SB (1972) and the ScD degrees (1975) from MIT, joined the faculty in 1976 after nearly two years with Bethlehem Steel Corp. He is widely recognized for his ability to bring quantitative understanding to a largely empirical field.
Professor Thomas's research centers on the relationships between processing and structure and how structure influences mechanical and transport properties in polymeric materials. He has made major contributions to the understanding of the phase morphology of block copolymers and to the nature of defects in ordered media. He was head of the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts before joining the MIT faculty.
He holds the BS degree in mechanical engineering (1969) from the University of Massachusetts and the PhD in materials science and engineering (1974) from Cornell University.
Dean Moses thanked Professor Flemings for his 12 years of service as department head. "Under Professor Flemings' leadership," he said, "the department experienced remarkable growth in the numbers of chairs and endowed fellowships. Thanks in large part to Professor Flemings' efforts, the department is able to guarantee support to all incoming domestic graduate students."
The department also shifted its focus from primarily metals and ceramics, strengthening electronic materials and polymers. While department head, Professor Flemings also made important contributions to the profession including the important NSF study, Materials Science and Engineering for the 1990s, which he co-authored.
"We wish Mert all the best as he returns to teaching and research and look forward to his future contributions to the department, the School and the profession," Dean Moses said.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 1, 1995.