Orlan W. Boston was born in western Michigan, July 16, 1891. He received all his engineering education at The University of Michigan, with the degrees of BME 1914, MSE 1917, and ME 1926. He was professor of mechanical engineering and chairman of the Department of Production Engineering. He began his teaching career at the U-M in 1914 with an instructorship in engineering mechanics and mechanical engineering. In 1917, he was commissioned in the U.S. Naval Reserve where he was responsible in part for the design and manufacture of submarine mines in the Bureau of Ordnance. He served until 1919. For the next two years, Boston was industrial engineer and assistant to the vice-president and works-manager of the Cleveland Tractor Company.
He returned to the University of Michigan in 1921 as assistant professor. He was assigned to plan the south wing of the East Engineering Building and to develop courses and laboratories for Metal Processing, later known as Production Engineering. He was promoted to associate professor and acting director in 1923 and to professor and director in 1926.
Boston wrote several books dealing with production equipment, processes and materials, including Metal Processing. Several engineering handbooks, including Mark's Mechanical Engineering, contain sections prepared by Boston on machine tools, machinability and metrology. He retired from The University of Michigan in July, 1956. He died February 17, 1991.