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Memorial Tributes, Volume 12
MORRIS COHEN 1911–2005
Elected in 1972
“For elucidation of strengthening mechanisms of steel and unification ofengineering disciplines with materials science.”
BY EDWIN L. THOMAS AND GREGORY B. OLSON
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
MORRIS COHEN, institute professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), passed away May 27, 2005, at his home in Swampscott, Massachusetts. Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, in 1911, he began a lifelong association with MIT in the fall of 1929 when he enrolled as a freshman, expecting to apply a degree in metallurgy to the family business, which produced and refined lead-based alloys for metal type and solders. He earned a B.S. in metallurgy in 1933 and an Sc. D. in metallurgy in 1936, when he was appointed an instructor in the Department of Metallurgy. Rising through the academic ranks, he became a full professor in 1946, was named Ford Professor of Metallurgy in 1962, and was promoted to institute professor, MIT’s highest honor, in 1975.
Morris’s doctoral thesis, “Aging Phenomena in Silver-Copper Alloys,” was supervised by the noted metal physicist Professor John T. Norton, and his early work on improving the strength and toughness of metals was quickly connected to investigations of the causes of dangerous cracking in all-welded ships during World War II.
As associate director of the Manhattan Project at MIT, Morris worked on the development of processes to convert uranium powder into solid uranium metal; the resultant castings were used for the famous “pile” built in Chicago. Also during the war, he helped develop nonmagnetic steel that could be used