RalphRose2-600 wide

[Image above] Credit: Sylvia Rose

ACerS Fellow Ralph Rose may have reached a milestone birthday, but that hasn’t slowed down his memory or curtailed his desire to continue his education. He recently turned 100 years old and was happy to talk about his career, achievements, and especially his time at ACerS.

Rose entered The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio) during the Depression and was required to complete four years of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). His interests and strengths lied in physics, chemistry, and math, so he enrolled in the engineering college, initially without a specific major.

After exploring job opportunities, Rose chose ceramic engineering. “We all had to take an introductory course, which was a synopsis of what engineering consisted of,” Rose recalls. “I was interested in chemical engineering.” But before he decided to choose that path, he researched the job market for chemical engineering graduates.

“I found out that not all of the chemical engineering graduates had been placed in jobs,” he says. “So I checked out ceramics, and found out that by September after (the previous) graduation year, everyone had a job. So I went into ceramics without knowing much about it.”

Rose remembers there were only three professors in the entire department. “In those days they educated us to be engineers working in small ceramic companies, where there would be one engineer on staff,” he explains.

After serving in WWII from 1942–1945, Rose’s first professional job was as a research engineer for Battelle in Columbus, Ohio, working on sponsored research projects for commercial companies. Since then he’s held several jobs, but he says his most rewarding was at H.K. Porter and Company, where he was involved in helping to build a plant that extracted magnesia from seawater. “Process design of the plant and products was the job I enjoyed the most,” he says.

ACerS involvement included promoting abstracts

Wanting to get more involved in his field, Rose joined ACerS in 1940 as a student and was a member of the Refractory Ceramics Division. During his time at Battelle, he became chairman of the Central Ohio Section. When he moved to Philadelphia for a new job, he became chairman of the Philadelphia Section. Although he attended national meetings on a regular basis, Rose says he enjoyed being more involved in local sections.

Rose even worked as a paid employee for ACerS between 1946–1951, putting together a column in the ACerS Bulletin to promote abstracts. “The purpose was to give members information on abstracts from technical presentations in local and national meetings,” he explains. “I wanted to bring attention to the various projects in different fields.”

Rose holds several patents, including one for development of a glass polishing compound and one for a method of metal cladding for basic refractories.

He was married for 72 years until his wife Ruth passed away in 2013. They have five children, seven grandchildren, and five great grandchildren. Today, Rose lives outside of Harrisburg, Pa., where his favorite pastime is listening to nonfiction books on tape. “I’ve been reading about astrophysics, medicine, and archaeology,” he says jokingly. “I’m getting my Ph.D. at the age of 100!”

Rose celebrates his 100th birthday surrounded by family and friends. Credit: Sylvia Rose

Rose reflects on his life and career with fond memories, knowing it has been one of hard work, family love, striving for education and the American dream, service to his community, and professional achievement.

“All of the jobs I held amounted to problem solving jobs,” he says. “I found it to be a very interesting career.”

To learn more about the benefits of an ACerS membership, visit www.ceramics.org/join.

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