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BY ROLAND W. SCHMITT
ARTHUR M. BUECHE, Senior Vice-President for Corporate Technology, General Electric Company, died at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on October 22, 1981. Dr. Bueche was widely known as a statesman and advocate for science and ...
ARTHUR M. BUECHE, Senior Vice-President for Corporate Technology, General Electric Company, died at Bridgeport, Connecticut, on October 22, 1981. Dr. Bueche was widely known as a statesman and advocate for science and technology; as an adviser to the U.S. Government, to academic institutions, and to international bodies; and as an innovator in applying research results to the needs of society.
Born in Flushing , Michigan, on November 14, 1920, Dr. Bueche attended Flint Junior College, received his Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1943, attended Ohio State University, and was awarded his Ph.D. in phys ical chemistry from Cornell University in 1947. At Cornell he was a protege of Nobelist Peter Debye, with whom he was closely associ ated in furthering the Nation's synthetic rubber program.
After serving as a research associate at Cornell for three years, Dr. Bueche joined the staff of the General Electric Research Laboratory, Schenectady, New York, in 1950. He studied the effects of electron beam radiation and fillers on the strength and elasticity of silicone elastomers. His research into effects of radiation on polymers led to cross-linked polyethylene, and he also made important contributions to the understanding of fracture and crazing in polymers. During this period he was a prolific producer of patents and technical papers.
His move into management began in 1953 with appointment as Manager of Polym er Research, and by 1961 he had been named Head of the Research Laboratory's chemistry department. General Electric named Dr. Bueche a Vice-President in 1965 and simultaneously gave him the task of integrating the Corporate Research Laboratory and the Corporate General Engineering Labo ratory into a cohesive Research and Development Center. From 1965 to 1978, under his leadership, this combined entity achieved a high degree of success, with the staff growing to more than 2,000, including 800 scientists and engineers.
Dr. Bueche's leadership of this operation was recognized as an outstanding example of managerial skill. He was innovative in the development of strategic and operational planning of technical work, in devising new methods of technical liaison and technical informa tion exchange, in promoting and recognizing technical excellence, and in the transition of R&D results into beneficial industrial and business activity.
The achievements of the laboratories under his direction were many and noteworthy, which attest to the effectiveness of his leader ship. In electronics, they include the development of significant advances in computed X-ray tomography; a solid-state imager based on charge-inj ection device technology; thermomigration, a process that reduces the time required to process semiconductors; the surface-charge correlator, a new semiconductor device for analog signal processin g; and several new and im proved solid-state power devices. Achievements in materials included the fabrication and commercialization of cub ic boron nitride, a man-made material sec ond in hardn ess only to diamonds, and polycrystalline diamonds for metal cutting; the laboratory creation of the first synthesized gem diamonds ; the first simple and inexpensive technique for fabricating ceramic parts of silicon carbide; invention of a silicon/silicon carbide composite; and a wide variety of high-per form ance polymers that served as the basis for General Electric's achievement of a major commercial position in the field of engineering plastics. Meanwhile, in the field of energy, amo ng the many achievements were advances in the development of more efficient tur bines, sodium -sulfu r batter ies, coal-gasification technology, significantly im proved motor and control technology, and the production of energy-efficient lamps.
The success of virtually all of these laboratory achievements subse quently has been marked in the marketplace. Dr. Bueche was an active participant in scientific and industrial professional organizations, government advisory groups, and educational institutions. He was a leader in defining and promoting the roles of science and technology in government, education, industry and as important contributors to the welfare and security of people.
As a particularly active member of the National Academy of Engineering, he served on the Executive Committee of the Council. He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Academy Forum Advisory Committee. In government he served on advisory groups to the President's Office on matters related to sci ence and technology and also on a wide variety of science and technology committees. At various times he was a consultant to the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the U.S. Air Force, the National Bureau of Stan dards, and the Energy Research and Development Administration. He was Cochairman of President Reagan's Science and Technology Task Force in 1980 and headed the Science and Technology Policy team in the transition period before the inauguration.
In education he served on the Board of Trustees of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Albany Medical College, and the Hudson Mohawk Valley Association of Colleges and Universities. He had been a member of Visiting Committees at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Harvard, Connecticut, and Duke universities, and was a member of the Board of Overseers of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He was particularly active at his alma mater, Cornell, where he served the university and its engineering school in a broad range of activities, including chairmanship of the College of Engineering Council. His public service also included membership on the boards of Ellis Hospital, Sunnyview Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, and the Schenectady Savings Bank, all in Schenectady, New York.
His honors were many. They include the Industrial Research Institute Research Medal for Leadership, the American Society of Metals Medal for the Advancement of Research, the Fahrney Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Gold Medal Award of the American Institute of Chemists, the Centennial Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, eight honorary degrees, and elec tion as a Fellow in both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In the words of a resolution passed by the U.S. Senate following his death, " Dr . Bueche displayed exem plary personal qualities, lead ership skills, devotion to public service, and a rare combination of knowledge and abilities.