Lecturer Terry Ostrom remembered as an ‘encyclopedia of materials science’


The longtime mechanical engineering lecturer died Sept. 11.

Terry Ostrom, lecturer II of mechanical engineering, died Sept. 11.  He was 74.

Ostrom taught in the department for 26 years, starting shortly after he completed his post-doctoral research with Paul K. Trojan—the first chairman of UM-Dearborn’s Engineering division, which later became the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

A man ahead of his time, Ostrom was instrumental in the department—especially in the materials science and materials processing research areas.

“He was a walking encyclopedia of materials science,” said Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor German Reyes-Villanueva, who co-taught ME 381: Manufacturing Processes with Ostrom. “He had the knowledge and also had the gift of telling stories. Terry had a way of sharing that knowledge with his students in a relatable way.”

Ostrom earned a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical engineering from the Colorado School of Mines in 1965 and a Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering from University of Michigan in 1984.

Ostrom was scheduled to teach with Reyes-Villanueva this fall, just like they had done together for the past decade.

“Terry was the best colleague. He’d always ask how he could help, even with projects that were not his,” said Reyes-Villanueva, noting Ostrom recently produced images with the scanning electron microscope—equipment Ostrom was familiar with using—to help out his colleagues.  “He cared about us and the work we were all doing. He was always smiling and so positive. He’d ask you how you were doing when he saw you in the corridor and stop to hear what you had to say.”

Reyes-Villanueva said Ostrom’s frequent visits to his office were welcomed and memorable. They’d talk about course prep, interesting observations on how materials behaved and life.

Reyes-Villanueva said that Ostrom’s presence, wisdom and positive attitude is greatly missed.

“You could ask him anything and he’d have an answer,” he said. “With Terry, you could talk for hours. He always had such interesting stories. Now there is silence, but the knowledge he shared remains.” 

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