Thaddeus “Ted” Massalski, emeritus professor of materials science and engineering and physics and former department head of the Mellon Institute, passed away on December 2, 2022.
Born in Warsaw, Poland, he made a daring escape to Switzerland during World War II at age 16 by crossing a minefield at night, which he recently documented in an oral history project through the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME). He went on to enlist in the Polish Second Corps in the British 8th Army. Following the war, he attended the Reggio Politecnico di Torino in Italy, studying chemistry and engineering before moving to the United Kingdom where he earned his Ph.D. and D.Sc. at the University of Birmingham.
After completing work as a postdoctoral fellow at University of Chicago, Massalski began his career at Mellon Institute in 1960 as head of metals physics department. When the Mellon Institute and Carnegie Tech merged in 1967, he became a professor of materials science and engineering and physics, holding dual appointments until his retirement in 1997. With research focused on the stability of alloy phases, imperfections in crystals, phase transformations and amorphous structures, he authored over 200 publications and contributed significantly to key scientific discoveries in the field of metallurgy.
Even following his retirement, Massalski continued to be engaged in the classroom at CMU.
Until he was 88 years old, he gave guest lectures in my graduate phase transformations course during which the students enjoyed hearing stories about the early researchers in the field.David Laughlin, Aloca Professor of Physical Metallurgy
Colleagues within the materials science and engineering community remember Massalski fondly, particularly in regards to his collaborative spirit.
“Early in my career he invited me to write a paper for Progress in Materials Science for which he was a long-time and well-respected editor,” recalls professor Michael McHenry. The paper, described by McHenry as a “career shaping event,” was written along with Laughlin and then student Matthew Willard (current professor at Case Western Reserve University) and is now approaching 2,000 citations. “This is in no small measure due to Ted promoting the work of his colleagues at CMU,” said McHenry.
Massalski received numerous national and international recognitions over the course of his career, including the Commander’s Grand Cross of the Polish Republic from former Poland President Bronislaw Komorowski.