Elected in 1977
“For leadership in research on structure/property relationships in metals and in the extension of such concepts to the educational basis of materials science and engineering.”
BY ALI S. ARGON
WALTER SHEPARD OWEN was born on March 13, 1920, in the West Derby district of Liverpool and died on October 13, 2007, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
His distinguished career as a metallurgist, an academic, and a university administrator was shaped in nearly equal parts in the United Kingdom in Liverpool and in the United States at Cornell University, at Northwestern University, but most fully at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
His father, a shipping clerk, gave him his Welsh name and early bearing while his mother, a teacher, gave him his intellectual skills and his deep socialist convictions. In later years he remarked, “If you are not a socialist by the time you are 19, you are stupid, and if you are still one at 39 even more so.” Owen joined the metallurgy department at the University of Liverpool and graduated in 1940 with a first-class honors degree (B. Eng.). He spent much of the World War II years as a metallurgist at the research laboratories of the English Electric Company. During that tenure he continued to broaden his experience as a practicing metallurgist and even earned an M. Eng. degree from the University of Liverpool in 1942. After the war he returned to the University of Liverpool as an assistant lecturer in the metallurgy department and in the process obtained his Ph.D. degree in 1950 with a thesis entitled