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ROBERT CHARLES McMASTER 1913-1986 BY ROBERT I. JAFFEE ROBERT CHARLES MCMASTER one of the pioneers of non- clestructive testing, died of cardiac shock at his home in Dela- ware, Ohio, on July 6, 1986. Dr. McMaster, who was seventy- three when he cried, was Regents Professor Emeritus of Welcting Engineering and Electrical Engineering at Ohio State University (OSU). He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1970. He retired from OSU in 1977 and spent the last nine years of his life in a typically proactive, Bob McMaster style: involves! in countless projects, including continued consult- ing, editing the seconc! edition of his monumental Non- destructive Testing Handbook, and attending to his family to whom he was clevoted. McMaster received a B.S. in 1936 in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylva- nia; an M.S. in 1938 in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California; and a Ph.D., magna cum laude, in electrical engineering and physics in 1944, also from Caltech. At Caltech, McMaster su- pervised welding and X-ray radiography, his first encounter with the field of nondestructive testing (NDT). His Ph.D. re- search involved the effects of light on power transmission lines. His teachers included Nobel Laureates Car! D. Ander- son, Robert A. Millikan, and Enrico Fermi. 267
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268 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES Bob McMaster's first job after finishing his Ph.D. was with Battelle Memorial Institute's Columbus Laboratories, where he cut quite a swath as supervisor of electrical engineering from ~ 945 to ~ 954. It was during this period that Bob McMaster became one of the nation's first television weath- ermen. From 1950 to 1964 he broadcast twice a day at WBNS-TV in Columbus, providing for his watchers a virtual education in weather forecasting that incluclecl the "why" as well as the "what" in the local weather picture. His Battelle days included important work on the use of sonic and ultrasonic wave-assistec! of] well drilling and power tools, a topic he continued at OSU. This experience culmi- nated in the licensing of industry to produce high-power- leve} prezoelectric transducers for metal working and hanct tools. McMaster continued his work on NDT, applying the xerox copying process developecl by Battelle for Haloid Company, which later became Xerox Corporation, to radiog- raphy in the xeroradiography units being marketed by Xerox. Xeroradiography is now widely used in medicine for early cancer detection. McMaster joinect Ohio State University in 1955. He began as a professor of welding engineering and later became Re- gents Professor of Welding and Electrical Engineering. He taught courses in NDT and welding to both graduate anc} undergraduate students. Bob McMaster turned out to be a superb teacher. His booming lecture voice and carefully printed blackboarct will never be forgotten by his students, to whom he was known as "Doc." His courses in welcling anti NDT principles and analysis were also perhaps the best En- glish and mathematics courses his students ever had. A re- port with grammatical errors would be returned with a suit- ably pithy comment scrawled in the margin for correction before it would be accepted. Of McMaster's more than three hun(lre(1 publications and nineteen patents, perhaps the most significant to his fielct and to society as a whole is the Nondestructive Testing Handbook that he edited for the American Society for Nondestructive
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ROBERT CHARLES MCMASTER 269 Testing. The two-volume first edition appeared in 1959; McMaster finished the second edition in 1986, before his un- timely death. His achievement in compiling, and often re- writing, the contributions to this work is staggering. The manuscript of the first edition totaled 2,700 typed pages, contained 1,250 illustrations, and stood twenty-six inches high when stacked. The award-winning publication was so comprehensive, far reaching, and definitive that it is still widely used twenty-seven years after its publication and has been translates! into many languages including French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese. McMaster receiver! many honors during his lifetime. He was a life member of the American Society for Nondestruc- tive Testing (ASNT), the American Society for Testing Ma- terials (ASTM), the American Welding Society, the American Society for Metals, and the Institute of Electrical and Elec- tronics Engineers; he was also a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and Sigma Xi. He pre- sentect the ASNT Meh! Lecture in 1950 and the ASTM Ed- gar Marburg Lecture on nondestructive testing in 1952. For the American Welcting Society, McMaster presented the Eclu- cational Lecture in 1962 and the Adams Honor Lecture in 1965. In 1970 he was appointed national lecturer of the Midwest region of Sigma Xi. He received the National Reliability Award (1966), the Carnegie Mellon Merit Award (1971), the Ohioana Citation for distinguished service in engineering and research ~ ~ 97 ~ ), the American Weakling Society Charles H. Jennings Memorial Awarc! (1975), and the OSU Merito- rious Service Citation (19801. From his primary society, the American Society of Nondes- tructive Testing, McMaster received many honors and awards. He was ASNT president from 1952 to 1953 and re- ceived the ASNT Fellow Award (1973), the Coolidge Honor Award (1957), the DeForest Award (1959), the Tutorial Ci- tation (1973), and the Gold Medal (19771. He was awarder] honorary membership in 1960.
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270 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES McMaster's work on NDT was of great timeliness because it coincidec! with the development of fracture mechanics cluring the early 1950s, a period marked by catastrophic fail- ures of turbine ant! generator rotors and rocket motor cas- ings. The juxtaposition of the development of NDT anti fracture mechanics appears to be more than coincidental. Prior to an understanding of fracture mechanics and the development of finite element stress analysis, NDT was used primarily for radiographic inspection. Fracture mechanics required accurate knowlecige of flaw size and location rela- tive to the static dynamic stresses that are appliecl to large, critical components. McMaster's work on advanced NDT techniques, including ultrasonic and ect~y-current methods, was vital to the new fracture mechanics technology that was creates! cluring the 1950s to analyze failures and predict the life of components. McMaster hac] a sophisticated view of NDT in the total context of science ant! engineering and of the importance of NDT to society. His later publications dealt more and more with management responsibilities and ethical philosophy in the application of NDT. He saw NDT as a broacl family of technologies that extenclecl human powers of perception be- yonc! the inspection of industrial materials to many fields, including noninvasive medical diagnostics, geophysical sens- ing, meteorological environmental monitoring, ant] raclio- metric probing of space. His humane vision of the NDT profession is one of his many legacies. McMaster is survives! by his wife, Laura Gerould Mc- Master; his sons, L. Roy McMaster and lames A. McMaster; his daughter, :Lois McMaster BujoIct; his sister, Mrs. Max T. Rogers; and seven grandchildren. Roy is an investment counselor, Jim works in chemical plant research and clevel- opment, and Lois writes books on science fiction. Laura McMaster recently closecl the house on the left bank of the Scioto River, where they lived happily for seventeen years. Bob and Laura McMaster were members of the I.iberty Pres-
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ROBERT CHARLES MCMASTER 271 byterian Church in Delaware, Ohio, the churchyard in which he was buried on July 9, 1986. Bob McMaster leaves behind! a living legacy of hundreds of people with whom he came in contact, students and professional colleagues, to continue his work in nondestruc- · ~ tree testing.
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