George B Ulrich

George B Ulrich

Program Manager for Radioisotope Power Systems Program, and Interim Group Leader for Metals and Composites Processing

  • Research, development, characterization, testing, and production of high temperature materials and components for compact power systems.


2021-present – Group Leader (interim), Metals and Composites Processing, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • Group emphasis - developing processing techniques for metal and composite use in challenging environments by understanding pathway, thermodynamic, and kinetic connections with material behavior.
  • Capabilities - melting (arc, vacuum arc remelt, electron beam, air induction) and casting, mechanical processing (extrude, roll, draw, forge, press), heat treating and sintering, and cleaning (detergent, acid, KCN), powder metallurgy of high temperature alloys and composites, plus mechanical testing/analysis.

2014-2021 – Group Leader, Alloy Behavior and Design, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  • Group emphasis - materials design and improved fundamental understanding based on advanced characterization (e.g., microstructural, mechanical, x-ray and neutron scattering), and modeling techniques utilizing computational thermodynamics and phase diagrams.
  • Managed personnel providing computational modelling and design, manufacturing/processing, and mechanical and microstructural characterization expertise and capabilities to design new structural and functional materials for applications from structural uses in extreme environments (cryogenic, high-temperature, radiation, high mechanical loading, oxidizing, and corrosive) to functional needs (e.g. in batteries, fuel cells, and hydrogen storage, to surface modification approaches to control surface chemistry and reactivity). Classes of materials include steels, stainless steels, iron and nickel base heat-resistant alloys and superalloys, lightweight metals, intermetallics, bulk metallic glasses, high entropy alloys, directionally solidified eutectic alloys, refractory alloys, powder metals/oxide dispersion strengthened, and platinum group alloys. Laboratory facilities include melting, casting, heat treating, and powder processing. Group emphasis is on materials design and improved fundamental understanding based on advanced microstructural characterization and modeling techniques ranging from first principles to computational thermodynamics and phase diagrams.

July 2013-present – Program Manager, Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Materials, Production and Technology Program, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory - $7.5M annual program

  • Develop, report progress, and achieve milestones, schedules, and budgets for production, characterization, testing, and maintenance activities.

  • Cultivate customer relationships with DOE NE-75 (Office of Space & Defense Power Systems), NASA, DOE-ORNL Site Office and security program customers as well as interact and collaborate with other national laboratories (LANL, INL, SNLA) and contractors (University of Dayton Research Institute, Teledyne Energy Systems, Lockheed Martin, Aerojet Rocketdyne, and others).

  • Promote the ORNL role as the lead materials laboratory for the national RPS Program by continuing to develop, evaluate and produce high-temperature materials and fabricate these materials into heat source components for high-impact national/international missions.

  • Perform succession planning/training for task managers, technicians, and craft persons to ensure program capability and continuity.

1996 – June 2013 – Assistant Program Manager (2006 -2013) plus Task Manager for Clad Vent Set and Light Weight Radioisotope Heater Unit Manufacturing and Nuclear Launch Safety Tasks for RPS Materials, Production, and Technology Program, Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Oak Ridge, TN - $1.5M+ activities

  • Prepared annual production plans including budget requests and milestones for task activities.

  • Supervised personnel for hardware production and testing.

  • Managed quality requirements for production, including maintenance and documentation of training and retraining of personnel, calibration of equipment, and records generation and storage.

  • Prepared contributions to program reports on a weekly, monthly and annual basis.

  • Managed purchase and receipt of materials, tooling, and equipment in accordance with quality and safety requirements.

  • Created and maintained process procedures and equipment operating guidelines.

  • Managed maintenance, upgrade, replacement, and safe operation of equipment as needed to ensure future production capability.

1987 – 1996 – Development/Clad Vent Set Manufacturing (CVS)  Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant managed by BWXT Y-12 Oak Ridge, TN

  • Clad Vent Set Manufacturing Experience:  involved in all aspects of iridium alloy CVS  manufacturing - including technology transfer from Mound Plant to Y-12 Plant as well as Y-12 Plant to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Conducted studies and authored technical reports evaluating and characterizing various aspects of iridium alloy CVS manufacturing.  Member of CVS and Blank and Foil Production Configuration Control Boards and Material Review Boards.

  • Management Responsibilities: CVS Manufacturing Task ($2.3M annually) Y-12 Plant Technical Leader for RPS Program.  Principal Investigator for joint U.S./Russian project ($1.1M) entitled “Advanced Recycling of Commingled Metals” for U.S. Department of Energy Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program. Identified, proposed, and managed implementation of $920K weapon program cost savings. Division representative for entire weapon program. Production methods demonstration project leader. Co-op student supervisor.

1981 - 1990 – Production/Process Engineer Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant managed by BWXT Y-12, Oak Ridge, TN

  • Product Metallurgist Duties: Ensured specification requirements were met for various materials including iridium, alloy and stainless steels, aluminum alloys, titanium alloys, iron, uranium alloys, tantalum, and other special materials.

  • Process Metallurgist Duties: Ensured materials were properly processed through vacuum induction melting furnaces, 7500-, 1500-, 450-, or 35-ton hydraulic presses, 66"-wide  4-high rolling mill, foil rolling mill, hydroforms, rotary swaging machines and/or numerous heat treat facilities utilizing vacuum, inert, or air atmosphere, or salt baths.  Responsible for developing, characterizing, and optimizing processes and material properties.

  • Liaison Metallurgist Duties: Technical consultant - performed failure analyses and recommended alternative materials and processes. Extensive interaction with metal working, plating, machining, inspection/test, and assembly production personnel as well as vendor, design, development, and research personnel.  Involved in $7M forging procurement and $1.5M equipment procurement.  Temporary assignment with design group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

1977 - 1980 – Steel Metallurgist (Professional Practice Program), Republic Steel, Canton, Ohio

  • Lab Metallurgist: (Final Assignment) Conducted feasibility analysis of replacing oil with an aqueous polymer quenchant for numerous alloy steels.  Performed numerous metallurgical claim investigations.
  • Assistant Process Metallurgist: (Middle Assignments) Performed studies in 8", 12" and 18" bar rolling mills, heat treat, and bar finish areas as well as cold strip and sheet mills.

  • Assistant Process and Product Metallurgist: (Early Assignments) Performed  studies in alloy and stainless steel electric melt shop and continuous casting facility with vacuum degassing unit and AOD vessel.

U. S. DOE Secretary of Energy Achievement Award for Mars Science Laboratory Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator

Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Tennessee (inactive status)

Member of ASM International

ORNL Significant Event Award for Clad Vent Set Manufacturing

Martin Marietta Award of Excellence for Technical Achievement

U.S. DOE Weapons Program Award of Excellence for Significant Program Cost Savings

U.S. DOE Weapons Program Award of Excellence for Project/Process Implementation

U.S. DOE Quality Improvement Award

Martin Marietta Energy Systems President’s Award for Performance Improvement

Delta Tau Delta Fraternity Scholarship and Intramural Award

Mary Rowe Moore Admission with Distinction Award from the University of Cincinnati

U. S. DOE Secretary of Energy Achievement Award for Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Radioisotope Power Systems Team

B. S., Metallurgical Engineering (Professional Practice Program), University of Cincinnati, 1981