Dr. Richard E. Tressler was an international leader in the development of high temperature materials. He pioneered high temperature fiber testing and use, advanced instrumentation and test methodologiesfor thermostructural materials, and design and performance verification of ceramics and composites in high temperature aerospace, industrial and energy applications. He was founding director of the Center for Advanced Materials (CAM) which supported many faculty and students from the College of Earth and Mineral Science, the Eberly College of Science, the College of Engineering, the Materials Research Laboratory and the Applied Research Laboratories at Penn State on high temperature materials. His vision for interdiscipling research played a key role in the creation of the Materials Research Institute, and the establishment of Penn State as an acknowledged leader among major universities in materials education and research.
He earned his B.S. degree in Ceramic Technology from Penn State in 1963, his M.S. at MIT in 1964, and his Ph.D. in Ceramic Science at Penn State in 1967. He was a decorated veteran, serving as a Captain in the United States Air Force, then joined the Ceramics faculty at Penn State in 1972. He served as Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering from 1991 to 2001. During Professor Tressler's 10 year tenure he sought to enhance Penn State's reputation for excellence by hiring over 15 new faculty members.
Perhaps his most lasting accomplishment was the reorganization of the department from an option-focused organization into a global materials organization currently being emulated by the leading materials departments in the U.S. He also served on the technical advisory boards of Kyocera, Air Products, and Alcoa, as well as the Board of Directors of AVX Corporation. In recognition of his accomplishments he was named Academician of the World Academy of Ceramics, Honorary Member of the Societe Francaise de Metallurgie et de Materiaux, the International Prize of the Japan Fine Ceramics Association, and was named Distinguished Life Member of the American Ceramic Society, and received the Hosler Alumni Scholar Award of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.
He retired as Professor Emeritus of Materials Science and Engineering in 2001 and in recognition of his contributions received the Hosler Alumni Scholar Award of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.