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Robert Maddin

  • Born: October 20, 1918, Hartford, Connecticut

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0576
Interview Date: April 22, 2008
Location: Arlington, Virginia
No. of pages: 55
Minutes: 147
Sponsor: Nanotechnology

  Abstract of Interview

Robert Maddin begins the interview by briefly describing his childhood and attending school in Hartford, Connecticut; enrolling in Brooklyn College; and decision to study metallurgical engineering at Purdue University. Maddin then served in the Armed Forces during World War II before enrolling at Yale University for graduate studies. After Yale Maddin spent several years teaching at Johns Hopkins University's mechanical engineering department before accepting a position at the University of Pennsylvania. As the head of Penn's metallurgical engineering department, Maddin was responsible for its growth over the next 2 decades. During that time Sputnik caused a surge in scientific funding and led Maddin and other professors to submit a proposal for a materials science laboratory within Penn. With the proposal a success, Maddin then described starting up the Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM) and the role the metallurgy department played in its formation. Maddin then offered details of LRSM operations and interactions between the chemistry, physics, and metallurgy departments within the facility. After being appointed a UniversityProfessor by Penn administration, Maddin had the freedom of teaching in any department and gradually shifted his focus towards the history of science. Maddin concludes the interview by describing his second career at Harvard University's anthropology department, and his interest in metallography and the historical usage of metal.


1943 B.Sc., Metallurgical Engineering, Purdue University
1948 D. Eng., Metallurgy, Yale University

  Professional Experience

Yale University

1948 - 1949 Postdoctoral Fellow

Johns Hopkins University

1949 - 1955 Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering

University of Birmingham, UK

1954 Visiting Professor

University of Pennsylvania

1955 - 1972 Professor, Metallurgy Department

University of Pennsylvania

1955 - 1972 Department Chair, Metallurgy Department

University of Pennsylvania

1972 - 1983 University Professor

Laboratory for Research on the Structure of Matter (LRSM)

1965 - 1972 Executive Committee

Harvard University

1983 - 1986 Professor, Anthropology Department

Harvard University

1986 - 1989 Curator, Honorary Curator, Peabody Museum

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Childhood and Education 1

Attending middle and high school in Hartford, Connecticut. Traveling postgraduation and decision to attend college. Attending Purdue University. Serving in the Armed Forces during World War II. Enrolling at Yale University for graduate education.

Early career at Johns Hopkins 2

Teaching metallurgy in the mechanical engineering department. Interactions with the physics department. Exchange program in Birmingham, England. Influence of Alan Cottrell while abroad. Accepting a position from University of Pennsylvania.

Career at University of Pennsylvania 3

State and structure of the metallurgy department upon arrival. Becoming department head. Recruitment and expansion of the department.

Role in establishing the LRSM 5

Sputnik and recognizing the bottleneck of U.S. scientific personnel. Submitting proposal for materials center to ARPA. Role in John Hobstetter joining the faculty. Fundraising with Hobstetter. Configuration and design of LRSM.

Career development at Penn 14

Work on point defects interactions and diffusion in solids. Thoughts on the Office of Naval Research. LRSM facilities and laboratory structure. Metallurgy department renamed materials science department.

LRSM operations 22

Thoughts on inter-departmental collaboration. Impression on subsequent directors of LRSM. Funding switchover from ARPA to NSF. Role of materials science department in LRSM. Interaction with materials science departments at other institutions.

Second career studying the history of metallurgy 39

Being promoted to University Professor. Shifting interest towards history of science. Joining Harvard University as faculty. Interest in metallography and the historical usage of zinc.

Index 45

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