BY MERTON C. FLEMINGS
ROBERT L. COBLE, a leading physical ceramist, died on the island of Maui in Hawaii on August 27, 1992, at the age of sixty-four. Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in March 1978, Robert was a dedicated teacher and researcher widely recognized for his contributions to the theory of sintering of materials and to ceramic processing. He was highly esteemed by students and colleagues alike.
Professor Coble completed his graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1955 and spent the following five years at General Electric Research Laboratories. There he worked on the sintering of ceramics and made major contributions both to the analytical understanding of sintering phenomena and to the applications of this understanding to the development of a completely dense product, "Lucalox." When he returned to MIT in 1960 he had already demonstrated both the scientific capability essential for effective creativity and also the capability for applying this understanding to engineering materials.
Robert rose quickly in the ranks at MIT. He became associate professor in 1962, received tenure in 1966, and was promoted to professor in 1969.
In 1984 he received the prestigious Humboldt Research Award for U.S. Scientists to support a one-year stay in Germany; he spent most of that time at the Max Planck Institute in