G Clinton Shay’s presentation

Originally published in the November/December issue of Glass Worldwide, this article covers G Clinton Shay’s presentation with the 44th Phoenix Award at a gala dinner in Virginia, USA last October. Mr Shay is co-inventor of the ‘fusion flat glass’ manufacturing process.

A revolutionary method to produce thin, strong glass that is now used widely throughout the world in such industries as consumer electronics and telecommunications, the fusion process stemmed from a research programme initiated at Corning in 1958. Having realised limited success in vehicle windscreens and lenses for sunglasses during the 1960s and 1970s respectively, it was the growing popularity of LCD televisions at the turn of the century that enabled the process to realise its potential, as well as contributing to the continuing success of Corning.

Today, the fusion process is used in the production of Corning’s patented Gorilla glass, which was originally introduced to help protect consumer electronics from the scratches and bumps to which they are subjected in everyday use. Gorilla has been designed into more than 2450 product models and is used in 2.7 billion devices, including smart phones, laptops and tablets etc.

CENTRAL ROLE

G Clinton (Clint) Shay had joined Corning Glass Works in 1955, working for the specialist glassmaker’s Process Research organisation at Corning, New York. It was for his central role as a distinguished engineer and co-inventor of the manufacturing process that Mr Shay recently received this year’s Phoenix Award, presented by a group of leading suppliers to the international glass industry.

First awarded in 1971, the purpose of the Phoenix Award Committee is to select individuals who have made contributions to the glass industry in the fields of science, production or education. And as a symbol of this award, recipients are presented with a glass sculpture representing the mythological Phoenix Bird.

Clint Shay was born in East Orange, New Jersey in 1922 and grew up in nearby Madison. He served in the South Pacific with the US Navy during the Second World War, before studying for a master’s of science in mechanical engineering from Lehigh University and joining Corning. Even after retirement in 1986, Mr Shay (now 92 years old) is still engaged in the advancement of fusion technology at Corning and continues to bring his engineering skills and talents to new ideas in research and to offer sage advice to younger engineers and research scientists, via teleconferencing.

A gala dinner at Roanoke, Virginia was attended by more than 100 of Clint’s family, friends, colleagues and Phoenix Award committee members. Such is the esteem in which this year’s recipient is held that Corning Inc arranged for a delegation of 20 people from around the world to attend the award ceremony, comprising Presidents, Executive Officers, Fusion Process colleagues, Fellows and Senior Managers.

“Fifty six years after the call for a revolutionary glassmaking process, I am humbled to be seen as its champion” Mr Shay commented during his acceptance speech. “But its success came from the perseverance, dedication and creativity of thousands.” Clint Shay is humbled to receive the award and attributes the ultimate success of the fusion draw process to a combination of tenacity exhibited by the champions of the process, patience, perseverance and luck. He made special mention of Dr Stuart Dockerty and Amory Houghton, both of whom played a vital role in the early years of the fusion process but sadly did not survive to see its success with visual display panels.

“There is hardly a moment in our everyday lives when we are not utilising some form of Clint’s original concept, whether it is by speaking to our loved ones on our mobile phone, watching our favourite TV programmes, communicating with our friends, possibly on the other side of the world, via social media or any of countless other means of visual communication” observed Phoenix Award Committee Chairman, Wally Evans. “It was not until 41 years after the 1961 invention by Clint and Dr Dockerty that the potential for fusion process sheet for LCD substrates was realised. This was thanks to the patience and temerity of Clint Shay!”

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