(from University of California in Memoriam 1998, David Krogh Editor, a publication of the Academic Senate, University of California)
Milton Robert Pickus was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 22, 1913, and died on October 11, 1998, in Walnut Creek. His early education was in the schools of West Haven, Connecticut. This was followed by study at Yale University, which awarded him a B.S. in 1934 and a Ph.D. in 1938, both in metallurgy. During his graduate study he married Marcella Resnikoff in 1936. She, a son, Mark of Chicago; two daughters, Joan Cordon and Barbara Pickus, of Walnut Creek; and three grandchildren, as well as a brother, Irving of Alameda survive him.
After working for 10 years in industry, chiefly for the Parker Pen Company, where he was chief metallurgist, Pickus came to Berkeley as a Research Metallurgist, a position he held from 1948 to 1951. He then left the University and from 1951 to 1965 was a partner in Arrow Welding Supply. Starting in 1965, he became a faculty member of mechanical engineering and a Principal Investigator in the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory. During 1965-76 he was a part-time Lecturer in mechanical engineering, with the remaining part of his time being devoted to his research in LBL. In 1976, he was appointed Professor-in-Residence, and, while continuing his work with LBL, served in that capacity until his retirement at the end of 1978.
Pickus' research interests centered around metallurgical processing, with special interests in powders. He developed the art and technology of powder processing and extrusion forming in order that he could apply his ideas and creativity to the manufacture of products ranging from fountain-pen tips to the important class of brittle superconducting compounds of refractory metals, such as niobium. Almost all of his research efforts were carried out at LBL, and, partly in association with metallurgy professors E. R. Parker and V. E. Zackay, were directed to solving the problems of production of complex materials. He published and lectured widely in this field.
Although Pickus' association with the University was shared with LBL, he was always an active member of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and also had close ties with the Department of Materials Science and Mining Engineering. He regularly taught graduate courses in various aspects of metallurgy, supervised over 20 master's theses and two doctoral theses, and also worked together with postdocs and visiting faculty. His teaching concentrated on topics related to his research, and most successfully resulted in a core graduate course in powder processing in the Mechanical Engineering Department, one which also became popular with students from other departments in the College of Engineering. Among his co-workers he was known as a dedicated scientist and engineer who strove constantly for perfection in solving an engineering problem.