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Lawrence Van Vlack

Lawrence Van Vlack PhotoDr. Lawrence H. Van Vlack was a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan from 1953 through 1988, when he became Professor Emeritus. During these years Professor Van Vlack had extraordinary impact on the field of Materials Science and Engineering, particularly through his devotion to materials education.

Larry Van Vlack received his B.S.E. in Ceramic Engineering in 1942 at Iowa State University and his Ph.D. in Geology in 1950 at the University of Chicago with Professor Cyril Stanley Smith. He was employed by the U.S. Steel Corporation from 1942 - 1953 as a ceramist, petrographer and later as a process metallurgist. In 1953 he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan as an Associate Professor. The Department at that time was Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering and Professor Van Vlack served as chair of that department from 1967 – 1970 before forming a new department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering. Along with this, he coordinated accreditation of the oldest existing undergraduate curriculum in materials science and engineering.


Van Vlack Book
Professor Van Vlack authored 12 books, including the famous text Elements of Materials Science and Engineering. Professor Van Vlack introduced millions of students worldwide to the discipline of materials science and engineering and there are at least 25 foreign editions and translations of his introductory textbook. He also authored over 100 publications in the areas of refractory-metal interfaces, phase equilibria in oxide and sulfide systems and inclusion formation in steels. 
Professor Van Vlack was a Fellow of three Professional Societies: The American Ceramic Society (ACerS), The American Association for Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He was a registered Professional Engineer, was active in the educational activities of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS). He received numerous professional awards including the ASM International Gold Metal (1984), the ASM A.E. White Distinguished Teaching Award (1985), the UM College of Engineering Distinguished Faculty Award (1981) and the Tau Beta Pi R.C. Porter Award (1988) and the Iowa State University PACE Award (1993).