Edward M. Glass, 59, a former research and technology official in the Defense Department, died Friday after a heart attack at the home of his son, Paul S. Glass, in Silver Spring.

From 1966 until his retirement in 1972, Mr. Glass had traveled extensively as a consultant for the Enginerring Manpower Commission of the Engineers Joint Council, the State Department's bureau of scientific and technological affairs and the National Science Foundation.

More recently, he was a consultant for the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and had been on assignments in Iran and Paraquay.

Born in Providence, R.I., Mr. Glass was a graduate of Rhode Island State University and received a master's degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute.

He worked as a chemist for the Soil Conservation Service in 1941 and then transferred as a civilian to the Army Air Corps in 1942, working for the Air Service Command.

He enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1944 and was assigned to the Air Force Materials Laboratory at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, where he was appointed head of the petroleum products unit.

Mr. Glass returned to civilian status the next year and held several positions at the laboratory, including service as its technical director, until 1962.

He came to Washington as a special assistant to the Assistant Secretay of the Air Force for Researcg and Development. In 1963, he became a special assistant to the deputy director for research and technology in the office of the director of defense research and engineering in the Defense Department.

Mr. Glass was active in the American Society of Lubrication Engineers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, the Materials Advisory Board, National Academy of Sciences, the Society of Aerospace Materials and Process Engineers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

He served in 1960-62 on the committee on materials for space application of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. From 1966 to 1971, he was on the executive committee of the committee on federal laboratories of the Federal Council for Science and Technology.

He was a past president of the aerospace branch of the Research Society of America and a former member of the Smithsonian Institution's advisory council.

Mr. Glass is survived by his wife, Isobel Cafritz Glass; his son, and his mother, Jeannie Glass, and two brothers, Dr. Len H. Glass and David C. Glass, of of Los Angeles.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Heart Fund.