John R. Ogren

Dr. John Ogren was a scientist with an international reputation in the fields of chemistry and metallurgy.

He was born September 29, 1933 in Calumet, Michigan, the eldest son of John and Linda Ogren. His family moved to Big Bay in 1939, where his father worked in logging camps and at the Big Bay Saw Mill. In 1940, they moved to Marquette, where Ogren attended the Old North Marquette School for two years, then switched to the John D. Pierce School on NMU’s campus, graduating with a high school diploma in 1951.

Ogren went on to enroll at Northern, graduating as a science teacher in 1955 and launching his teaching career at the university in 1957 as an assistant professor of physics. From 1960-65 he taught physics at California State Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo while doing graduate work for Iowa State University. He received a Ph.D in Physical Metallurgy in 1965 and promptly joined TRW, a now defunct corporation with focuses in aerospace, automotive and credit reporting, as a member of their technical staff, and later became the Chief Materials Scientist for Chemical Technology Operations.

Ogren spent ten years in high temperature oxidation materials research at TRW Space Park, involving himself in the development of alloys for the containment of nuclear materials. Some of the work he developed provided the basis for the design of a generator that powered the spacecraft Pioneer-10, which for the time was the only man-made object that left our solar system and made it into intergalactic space. His space studies also allowed him to conduct microscopic chemical analyses on the first moon rock that was brought to earth by Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

A distinguished author, Ogren wrote numerous publications and technical reports. One of his achievement include Project Independence Blueprint—Vol. 17, “Synthetic fuels from coal”, for President Richard Nixon. Provoking controversy and discussion, this document was intended to be a national plan for achieving energy independence by 1980. He was also an editor of the Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance for several years.

At the time of winning his award, Ogren was also a member of the Task Force of Applied Research on the Commision of the Future of NMU, and held seven patents pertaining to breakthroughs in high temperature thermodynamics and reaction kinetics. Another dozen of his patents were either pending or classified.