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Stephen Sass

  • Stephen Sass
  • Dept: Materials Science and Engineering
  • Title: Emeritus
  • Address:
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Research Interests

Fundamental studies of crystalline interfaces; fabrication of nanoperiodic surfaces for biological and materials applications.

Service Interests

Recent undergraduate educational activities: -Lead department's effort to increase the number of undergraduates entering Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell. The graduating senior class in 2006 was 43 students. -Took the lead role in involving freshmen and sophomores in high technology research in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Currently there are more than 60 undergraduates engaged in research in the department during the academic year. -Worked with faculty to develop new freshmen- and sophomore-level coureses in Materials Science and Engineering, including materials chemistry and hands-on introductory notes. -Taught the entry-level sophomore course, "Introduction to the Mechanical Properties of Materials," incorporating timely examples to show the students the relevance of what they are learning. -Taught a cross-disciplinary course, "The Substance of Civilization - Materials Through the Ages," which educates humanists about science, by putting technology into a historical context. The course is based on a book I wrote with a similar title that was published in 1998.

Future educational interests: Increase scientific literacy in the United States through multi-media approaches based, in part, on my book The Substance of Civilization, in which science and technology are embedded into a historical and human context.

Selected Publications

  • Sass, Stephen. 2008. "We've Been Here Before". Media Magazine. 72.
  • Sass, Stephen. 2006. "Scarcity, Mother of Invention". The New York Times.
  • Sass, Stephen. 2006. "Scarcity, Mother of Invention". The International Herald Tribune.
  • Sass, Stephen. 1998. The Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon. New York, United States: Arcade Publishing, Little, Brown, & Co..

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Distinguished Achievement Award in Materials Science and Engineering (International Workshop on Advanced Intermetallic and Metallic Materials) 2008
  • Distinguished Achievement Award in Materials Science and Engineering (International Workshop on Aadvanced Intermetallic and Metallic Materials, China) 2005
  • Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow (Cornell University) 2001
  • Outstanding Educator (Cornell University) 2000
  • Fellow (ASM) 1997


  • B. Chem. Eng. (Chemical Engineering), City College of New York, 1961
  • Ph D (Materials Science), Northwestern University, 1966