First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:John J. Croat


Full name

John J. Croat

Birth date


What Award did you receive from IEEE?

2022 IEEE Medal for Environmental and Safety Technology

Place of Birth

St. Marys, Iowa

Where did you grow up

St. Marys, Iowa. A farming community.

Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession

Parents: High school graduations. Most of my siblings have attended or graduated from college. I and one of my older brothers (Tom) have Phds. He is a tropical botanist of some renown.

What did you want to do when you grew up?


What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?

Large family. Seven children.

Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)

Oil painting

Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?

Basketball, track and field

Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?

Raised on a dairy farm. Much after school work

Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips? Favorite holiday/family gathering?

Almost no family trips growing up. Significant travel after marriage and graduation from college.

EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?

History. Not sure why. Science courses.

Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?

Did not have a least favorite subject.

Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?

Local university. Cost was low and my family did not have a lot of money.

Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job

Research Metallurgist, Physics Dept., General Motors Research Labs. This was also my most favorite job. I enjoyed my work and enjoyed going to work every day.

Has your career turned out as you expected?

Better than I expected.

Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?

Not really.

You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?

It means a great deal to me. I am very proud to have received it.

What other associations have helped you in your career?


Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?

Get a Phd if you plan to go into a science/research profession. You cannot get a good research job without it. Work hard. The early bird still gets the worm.

Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?

I think the career path I choose was a good one. Graduate studies in Metallurgy at Iowa State University. No regrets.

Was there a project that you were so passionate about that you continued to pursue it even though there may have been doubts about its success?

There were several research projects that I should have abandoned sooner than I did.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

The discovery of NdFeB permanent magnets.

Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?

Oil painting, reading (mostly histories or historical fiction), landscaping/gardening. I also like to cook.

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

My book Rapidly solidified NdFeB Permanent Magnets. Published by Elsevier in 2017. My two granddaughters Elle and Emma.

Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?

Pepperoni pizza

Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?

No real favorite. Probably soft rock.

Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.

Nothing I can think of.

What are three things people may not know about you?

That I am a better than average amateur oil painter. That I like to cook.

Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)

I had many high school teachers that encouraged me to go to college.

What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?

My laptop computer, my I Pad.

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

I firmly believe that the best way to get ahead is to work harder than your peers.