ORLANDO, FLA. — The Society of Plastics Engineers named Harvey Bair, an expert in thermal analysis of plastics, as the winner of its top honor, the International Award for 2000. Bair is a member of the technical staff at Lucent Technologies Inc., formerly AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J.
In a keynote speech at Antec May 11, Bair said he works as a detective, studying the "thermal fingerprint" of polymers. Often, the fingerprint comes at the transition point, or the temperature at which the polymer abruptly changes properties. His department can analyze a failed part to determine the problem, determine what molding conditions were used to make a part, and study a part from an outside company to determine the type of plastic.
Bair backed into the plastics industry, as well as his field of thermal analysis. He earned a master's degree in chemistry from Penn State University in the early 1960s. Like many chemists at that time, he did not have much formal training in polymers. Bair took a job at General Electric Co., which came to campus to interview graduates. He ended up working on a project to develop a new type of calorimeter, a device that measures heat, for plastics.
It was a career move, literally for Bair, who moved to Bell Labs in 1965. He has published more than 160 research articles and is a frequent lecturer.
The Brookfield, Conn.-based SPE presented other awards May 9 during ANTEC:
Robert Weiss, the A.T. DiBenedetto Distinguished Professor of engineering at the University of Connecticut, received the Education Award. He has taught 10 different courses for UConn students, and several industry short courses. He also guided the dissertations of about two dozen doctoral students. The holder of 10 patents, Weiss has written more than 300 research papers, book chapters and conference papers.
Gregory McKenna, the John Bradford Chair of Engineering at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, earned the Research Award. Before joining the university, McKenna for many years was a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. His research includes work on mechanics and thermodynamics of solid and glassy polymers through innovative measurement techniques.
Norman Cohan, president and chief executive officer of Security Plastics Inc., a custom injection molder in Miami Lakes, Fla., won the Business Management Award. Cohan founded Security in 1955. A year later, he invented the Hetero-Cavity molding technology, which greatly reduced the time and cost required to make molds and plastic parts, SPE said.
Ephraim Suhir, distinguished member of the technical staff at Lucent Technologies, received the Fred O. Conley Award for Plastics Engineering/Technology. Suhir's accomplishments include developing engineering theories and analytical models for structural and stress analyses and methods to assess fiber-optic applications. According to SPE, Suhir is considered to be one of the world's experts on mechanical, thermal and materials aspects of plastics packages of integrated circuit devices, and on polymer coatings in optical silica fibers.
SPE also named two best-product award winners. Winning the best consumer award was the first battery-powered circular saw, the Firefox, from Black & Decker Corp. of Towson, Md.
McCord Winn Textron of Madison Heights, Mich., won the industrial product award for its RITec blow molded fan shroud and reservoir assembly. The single plastic assembly replaces five individual parts on the 2000 Dodge Durango sport utility vehicle and the Dakota pickup truck — a radiator fan shroud, coolant reservoir, front washer reservoir, rear washer reservoir and fill funnel for the rear washer reservoir.
McCord Winn Textron is a division of Textron Automotive Co. Inc. of Troy, Mich.
Last year, the fan shroud won the grand prize at SPE's Automotive Division awards in Detroit.