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Dr. Herbert Henry Uhlig, professor emeritus of metallurgy at MIT and a pioneering researcher into the corrosion of metals, died at his home in Hancock, N.H, on July 3, at the age of 86.
His family said he had been in failing health.
Dr. Uhlig was born on March 3, 1907, in Haledon, NJ. He received the ScB degree in 1929 from Brown University, and a PhD in 1932 from MIT. He was a research chemist at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York City, and later an assistant chief chemist at Lever Brothers in Cambridge, Mass. He next became a research associate at MIT until 1940, but when the pressure of World War II limited the financial support of academic programs he transferred his corrosion investigations to the General Electric Research Laboratory in Schenectady, NY.
In 1946, he returned to MIT as associate professor and director of the re-established Corrosion Laboratory. In 1953 he was promoted to full professor within the Department of Metallurgy (now the Department of Materials Science and Engineering). He continued his teaching and research at MIT until his retirement in 1972. He participated in part-time teaching and research at MIT until 1975, when he accepted visiting professorships in Australia; Woods Hole, Mass.; and Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
Professor Uhlig co-authored nearly 200 scientific and technical papers dealing with corrosion, which is the degradation of metals as the result of environmental conditions, rust being the most notable example. He edited the Corrosion Handbook, published in 1948 by John Wiley and Sons. In 1963 his book Corrosion and Corrosion Control, was published by John Wiley and Sons. In 1985 the third edition was published which he had edited with a former student, R. Winston Revie.
He was a member of The Electrochemical Society and the National Association of Corrosion Engineers (NACE). He participated and helped to organize many conferences during his lifetime including: The Gordon Research Conference on Corrosion, International Corrosion Council, and the International Symposium on Passivity.
In 1982 the Greater Boston Section of NACE established the "H.H. Uhlig Student Grant," which is awarded annually in recognition of outstanding scholarship. In 1985 The Electrochemical Society named an award in his honor, "H.H. Uhlig Award of the Corrosion Division," which is granted for recognition of contributions to corrosion science.
His many honors and awards included the Willis Rodney Whitney Award, Guggenheim Fellowship, Palladium Medal and U.R. Evans Award. He was an Honorary Fellow of the British Institution of Corrosion Science and Technology. The Electrochemical Society Symposium in 1981 was dedicated in honor of Professor Uhlig on his 75th birthday. A symposium volume was published entitled, Corrosion and Corrosion Protection.
In May 1982 the Corrosion Laboratory at MIT was dedicated in his honor and renamed as "The H.H. Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory." At the dedication banquet, Professor Uhlig cited the importance of corrosion research in the past and its continued importance for the future in order to conserve and use wisely our limited natural resources. He remarked that "MIT through its established tradition of advancing and disseminating corrosion knowledge provides additional support to its overall program contributing to an improved world...it has been my inner conviction that this assignment is a genuine privilege and an unusual opportunity."
During his retirement years, Professor Uhlig enjoyed the Hancock area's cultural advantages: the Monadnock Chorus, Apple Hill Chamber Group, and the nearby Sharon Art Center. He had been an enthusiastic outdoors man all of his life participating in hiking (especially Mount Monadnock) swimming, canoeing, skiing, skating, and many other outdoor activities. He was a member of the Appalachian Mountain club for many years.
He is survived by his wife, Greta, of Hancock, NH, their children, Karin of Wellesley, Maida of Brookline, and Kristin of Gorham, ME; and grandchildren.
A version of this article appeared in the July 14, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 1).