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In Memoriam

William Hillig

 

“Paying it forward” in technology—Wrapping a “Bow Tie” around what Bill Hillig started in CMCs 

by Todd Alhart

 

In 2016, GE and the Aviation industry celebrated a major materials milestone with the introduction of ceramic matrix composites (CMCs) in the CFM LEAP engine. Each of the more than 14,000+ engines now on order will have 18 shrouds made of this watershed material innovation. 

 

This innovation, of course, was no small feat. The research and development of this new material spanned decades and several generations of GE researchers. But when you ultimately deliver a breakthrough that shattered the heat tolerance threshold of jet engine parts by not tens but hundreds of degrees, the journey was well worth it. And that is how advances in technology work, with every new generation of scientists and engineers building on the discoveries and breakthroughs of the last.

 

We pay it forward.

 

Recently, one of GE’s earliest research pioneers in CMCs, Dr. William (Bill) Hillig, passed way. He retired from GE’s Research lab after a successful 36-year career in 1989, long before most current GE research employees worked for Global Research. But those who had the privilege of working with him like chief scientist Krishan Luthra remember a true scientific visionary who was a thorough gentlemen in the truest sense.

 

Luthra, who was his manager for several years, said Bill’s contributions put us on the right path to commercialization, stating, “Bill had the vision back in the seventies to create silicon carbide (SiC) fiber reinforced silicon Si–SiC composites that ultimately led to the approach used to form CMC parts used in aircraft engines today.”

 

Luthra noted the work Bill did was key to later breakthroughs in achieving what’s called the “near net-shape” of parts. This means that when forming a part during the manufacturing process, it maintains close to its actual size and shape. Luthra said this was an essential barrier to break through to be successful in commercializing the CMC technology.

 

Following Dr. Hillig’s retirement from GE, he joined Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) as a research professor in materials science. During his career, he held 12 patents and had more than 70 papers, reviews and book contributions published. Many of his papers focused on advanced materials, including high-temperature ceramics and ceramics composites.

 

Luthra said, “As we celebrate technical milestones today, it’s important that we look back and remember those before us whose work we built upon to get there. I’ll never forget Bill. Each day he came to work wearing a bow tie. It was kind of his trademark, and in a way symbolic.”

 

Luthra concluded, “When you tie a bow tie, you must bring two loose ends together. And that’s what we have essentially done with CMCs. We took the end he started and advanced the work he and his generation made to bring to market. And this journey continues with the present and future generations to come.”

 

 

The following deceased ACerS members are organized as their information is received.

 

Leslie Eric Cross

 

Richard Alan Alliegro

 

Hans Hausner

 

William McCracken

 

Neil Ault

 

Larry Hench

 

Joel Moskowitz

 

S. Donald Stookey

 

Warren W. Wolf

 

J. Lambert Bates

 

Robert W. Richards

 

Marija Kosec

 

Leslie J. Bowen

 

Irv Gower

 

Matthew Kerper

 

Thomas J. Mroz

 

Alan Searcy

 

Irvin F. Havens

 

C. Rogers Westlake

 

Torstein Utigard

 

William “Bill” Bates

 

John A. Cable

 

Reldon Cooper

 

Charles J. Deignan Sr.

 

Robert Hatch

 

Coy L. Huffine

 

Gordon H. Johnson

 

Lyle E. Shoot

 

Seymour A. Bortz

 

Gian Nicola Babini (former president of International Ceramic Federation, the European Ceramic Society and organizer of ICC2)

 

Andre Ezis

 

Henry M. O’Bryan Jr.

 

Jules Routbort

 

Eva Zeisel (honory member)

 

Gary Schlager

 

Harrison Corbin Van Cott

 

Alan Franklin

 

Wendell S. Williams

 

Robert C. Weedy

 

Roy Victor Harrington

 

Robert L. Snyder

 

Russell L. Yeckley

 

Charles Venable Jr.

 

G. S. Dhami

 

 

Fennimore Nelson Bradley

 

Roy W. Rice

 

Gunter Hermann

 

John Randall Wheeler

 

Tsuneharu Ogasawara

 

Elizabeth “Beth” Judson

 

Yoshiro Harada

 

James Dean Welterlen

 

Rustum Roy

 

Roy E. Gorton Sr.

 

Osgood James Whittemore

 

George Kepka

 

George C. Steer

 

Robert J. Long

 

Jay Comeforo

 

Norman K. Russell

 

William Brown

 

Kenneth Lawrence “Larry” Stover

 

Frederick F. Lange

 

Winston Duckworth

 

Charles Bachman

 

David R. Watson

 

James G. Gibson

 

John S. Haggerty

 

Robert K. Longritz

 

Francis (Fritz) W. Henry

 

James J. Mattis

 

Richard Renskers

 

Silas Larson

 

James V. Jones

 

Anthony G. Evans

 

Peter J. Hoagland

 

L.W. Coughanour

 

Stephan Mitoff

 

J. Walter Szymaszek

 

Robert Newnham

 

David W. Kellerman

 

Randall C. Ragan

 

Janet B. Quinn

 

Basil G. Staples

 

Walter Bennett

 

Edward P. Schauss

 

Henry Paul Kirchner

 

Carlton H. Hogue

 

Edgar Ronald Tostevin

 

Alfred Dube

 

Megumi Tashiro

 

Ronald Stanton Gordon

 

Robert H. Doremus

 

John “Jay” P. Gleason Jr

 

Helmut Franz

 

Please contact Eileen De Guire with questions or to provide a notice or update.


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