Obituary – Dr Stephen Court FIMMM

Fellows' Lounge
3 Oct 2015

Dr Stephen Anthony Court 1958–2015

Steve Court, an eminent physical metallurgist who will be remembered for his excellent work in the field of structure property relationships in aluminium alloys, died suddenly on 3 March 2015. Steve obtained his BSc (1981) and PhD (1985) in metallurgy from the University of Leeds. He then took up a Research Fellowship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from 1985 to 1988, working with Hamish Fraser. He joined Alcan’s Research Laboratory in Banbury in 1989, followed by secondments to Alcan’s research centres in both Kingston, Canada and Neuhausen, Switzerland, where he was Research Director. Following a series of Alcan mergers and divestments in January 2005, Steve was appointed Chief Scientist and Director of the Novelis R&D Centre in Neuhausen. He returned to the UK in 2007 to take up a position with NAMTEC as Chief Technology Officer, and then became the Operations Director of the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) – part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in Sheffield. Steve led the development of the Nuclear AMRC from its creation in 2009 until early 2013, during which time he was a Professor of Materials and Manufacturing at the University of Sheffield. He became the Engineering Director for Smiths Connectors in March 2013.

In his 18 years with Alcan and Novelis, Steve had responsibilities for establishing partnerships and collaborative research with universities and research institutes throughout the UK, mainland Europe, Canada and the USA, and for identifying and evaluating new areas of technology. Steve’s research focused predominantly on structure property relationships, initially in titanium aluminides and then in aluminium alloys. His work with David Lloyd and colleagues in the Kingston laboratory involved optimising pre-ageing treatments for 6,000 series automotive sheet alloys and exploring and controlling the microstructural parameters influencing the formability of 5,000 series alloys. While in Alcan’s Canadian laboratory, Steve interfaced extensively with North American university programmes, particularly with Ohio State, University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia. Steve’s scientific achievements in the field of physical metallurgy of light alloys led to many commercial automotive alloy developments. 

Steve published more than 75 journal and conference publications and authored two major reports associated with the UK power generation sector that were pivotal for the establishment of the Nuclear AMRC. Steve took a prominent role in the light metals community as a member of Light Metals Division Board and Materials UK.

Steve is survived by his wife Anne, their two children, Nick and Isabel, his step-daughters Claudine and Danielle and their children Adam, Alex and Finlay. He will be fondly remembered as a loving family man, a remarkable person and an outstanding scientist. He will be sadly missed by all his family and many friends, who appreciated his humour, intelligence and integrity.