Carnegie Mellon University
March 16, 2021

Remembering Harold Paxton

By Hannah Diorio-Toth

Sherry Stokes

Harold PaxtonHarold W. Paxton, former head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, passed away on March 8, 2021 at age 94. Paxton, U.S. Steel University Professor Emeritus, had an incredible impact on MSE through his research, mentorship and leadership.

Paxton was an important part of the Carnegie Mellon University community for almost 70 years. He started his career at Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1953 as assistant professor of Metallurgical Engineering. During his time at Carnegie Tech, now Carnegie Mellon, he served as head of MSE and director of the Metals Research Laboratory.

"Harry Paxton is responsible for much of what MSE is today — he was a student, faculty member and head of the department. His philosophy about Materials Science and Engineering research and education is carried on in all our department activities. He will be remembered as an influential leader of the MSE Department and a globally recognized metallurgist who made significant contributions to the field," said Greg Rohrer, W.W. Mullins Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and former head.

Listen to an oral history of Harold Paxton, captured by the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME). He speaks about his life, career and long relationship with Carnegie Mellon University.

After retiring from active teaching, Paxton worked as a consultant to government and industry. Some of his work was with United States Steel Corporation, where he served as vice president of research and eventually vice president of corporate research and technology assessment.

Paxton was often recognized for his impressive contributions to the field of physical metallurgy. He was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, member of the National Academy of Engineering, and Fellow of the American Society for Metals and the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society of AIME (TMS). He was very active in professional societies, serving as president of TMS, chairman of the General Research Committee of the American Iron and Steel Institute; and president of American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers during his career.