Photo of Morris Cohen

Morris Cohen

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering

For original research and advancement of knowledge of the physical and mechanical metallurgy of iron and steel, and especially for his work on the martensitic transformation in the hardening of steel.

Morris Cohen helped build the field of construction material science and engineering — or metallurgy. He is credited with major contributions in understanding how structural materials like iron and steel could be processed and turned into high strength steel used in buildings today.

Cohen’s work involved all types of synthetic materials including metals, plastics, ceramics, polymers, composites and biomaterials used in medical implants. His influential 1974 report “Materials and Man’s Needs,” established the groundwork and set the direction of materials science.

Work at his father’s company, Acme Type Metal of Everett, spurred his interest in metallurgy. The company processed scrap metal and sold it to local newspapers, which used the metal for the metal plates used in printing presses.

His work led to research and development of fuel rods and enriched uranium powder as part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology team working on the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb during World War II.

By Christine Ayala