Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering regrets to report the passing of Professor Emeritus Alan Lawley on October 17, 2017 at the age of 84. A long-time member of the department faculty, Alan continued to be a close colleague and friend to the department after his retirement in 2003. His passing is a great loss to Drexel, the department, and the field of powder metallurgy.
Alan joined the Drexel faculty as an associate professor in 1966, became full professor in 1969, and was named A. W. Grosvenor Professor in 1993. He served as department head on two occasions, from 1969 to 1979 and 1992 to 1998. Prior to his career at Drexel, Alan received his BSc and PhD degrees from the University of Birmingham, England. He was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania (1958-1961) and Manager of the Solid State Laboratory at the Franklin Institute (1963-1966).
In 1969, Alan was tapped to serve as project manager of Drexel’s first $1M+ grant, Project THEMIS, a multidisciplinary grant sponsored by the Department of Defense. This was his first foray into what would be a life-long career in powder metallurgy, a program which he initiated at Drexel in 1968. He was also a major player on the team which ultimately produced “The Drexel Engineering Curriculum” (tDEC), a significant reworking of the engineering curriculum, which became a model for other institutions. Among many accolades, Alan was one of the first two Drexel Faculty to be inducted into the National Academy of Engineering. He was a Fellow of APMI International and ASM International, a recipient of the Distinguished Service to Powder Metallurgy Award of the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF - 1991), the Jenkins Award of the Institute of Materials (1996), the ASM Albert Easton White Distinguished Teacher Award (1982), the ASM Gold Medal (1996), the TMS Educator Award (2002), the Eisenman Award from the Philadelphia Liberty Bell Chapter of ASM International (2004), and the Kempton H. Roll PM Lifetime Achievement Award from MPIF (2012).
Alan served as President of the Metallurgical Society (1982) and of AIME (1987), consulted extensively for government and industry, and served as a member of the National Materials Advisory Board. He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Powder Metallurgy for 30 years. He published over 300 articles in archival journals, conference proceedings, and books, more than 200 of which involve powder metallurgy and particulate materials.
Always sharing his sense of humor and vaudevillian skills, Alan achieved fame for his singing at departmental parties of yore. His command of English grammar and his editing skills were well known to all as he would never miss an opportunity to give suggestions for proper speech and writing. Alan was an avid sports fan, in particular of cricket, dubbing himself the oldest active cricket player in North America; English Premier League; and squash. He was well known for a curse wherein any Phillies game he attended was doomed to be a loss, which was finally broken when he had the good fortune of being present for a no-hitter. Devoted to his family and a mentor to many departmental faculty and alumni, he positively influenced the lives of many, both professionally and personally, and will be sorely missed.
A celebration of Alan’s life will be held on Saturday, November 25th at 1:00 pm at The Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA.
This video about Alan was created on the occasion of his receipt of the Kempton H. Roll PM Lifetime Achievement Award from MPIF.