National Academy of Engineering Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10
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Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 10

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             ROBERT A.LAUDISE                                         159
                            ROBERT A.LAUDISE
                                  BY JOHN J.GILMAN
                AN ICON FOR CRYSTAL GROWTH TECHNOLOGY and a strong
            advocate for materials technology in general, Bob Laudise is greatly missed by
            the community in which he worked, as well as the community of his family and
            his personal friends. His professional skills created an impressive legacy of
            technical landmarks as well as some new and permanent institutions. His
            humanity and gentle humor are irreplaceable in the memories of his colleagues
            and family members.
                I first met him during a visit to Bell Telephone Laboratories. I was a grower
            of metal crystals; he of oxides. In particular, he was in the midst of developing
            the hydrothermal process for producing quartz crystals on an industrial scale for
            use to control the frequencies of electrical oscillators. I was impressed by his
            intelligence, his enthusiasm for the task at hand, and his pride in what had already
            been accomplished. Only a few years beyond graduate school, he had accepted
            responsibility for a difficult task and was executing it with skill. I was delighted
            later on when he contributed two chapters to a book that I edited, called The Art
            and Science of Growing Crystals (1963). His own very successful book, The
            Growth of Single Crystals (1970), was published a few years later.
                Robert Laudise was born to Anthony T.Laudise and Harriette E. (O’Neil) in
            upstate New York in the town of Amsterdam along
             ROBERT A.LAUDISE                                         160
             the Mohawk River. This was not far upstream from the place where he began his
             career training in chemistry at Union College in Schenectady, the home base of
             the General Electric Company at the time. He graduated from Union College in
             1952 with a B.Sc. degree and traveled east to the Massachusetts Institute of
             Technology, where he studied inorganic chemistry and received a Ph.D. degree
             four years later in 1956.
                A major step came next when he was hired by AT&T Bell Laboratories (now
             part of Lucent Technologies). Unlike many others, he never left, and became
             highly valued by the management. In fact, he was so highly valued that a special
             position was made for him toward the end of his career so he was not required to
             retire when he reached the mandatory retirement age. He was still “in harness” as
            adjunct chemical director at the time of his death, August 20, 1998.
                Starting in 1956 as a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories,
            Robert Laudise rose through the ranks. In 1970 he became the head of the Crystal
            Chemistry Research Department, followed two years later by a promotion to the
            position of assistant director and then director of the Materials Research
            Laboratory. In 1978 he became director of materials and processing research.
            After he reached the retirement age of sixty-five, he was appointed adjunct
            chemical director.
                The approach of Laudise to crystal growth was systematic. It was that of a
            careful physical chemist and a disciplined chemical engineer. This was essential
            to the development of an industrial-scale hydrothermal process for making quartz
            crystals. It was also important for guiding the efforts of his group in developing
            the workhorse among solid-state lasers, the neodymium yttrium-aluminum garnet
            (Nd:YAG), and the workhorse of nonlinear optical-frequency converters, lithium
            niobate crystals.
                His responsibilities were not limited to crystal growth, his first love, but
            included other aspects of the synthesis of new materials. A significant example is
            his supervision of the development of processes for the production of optical
            fibers on a commercial scale.
                Robert Laudise was a tireless advocate of the technology of crystal growth
            as a free-standing discipline—in other words, a
             ROBERT A.LAUDISE                                         161
             branch of chemical engineering. He used both social organizations and
             publications to promote his advocacy.
                Together with Kenneth A.Jackson, he started the American Association for
             Crystal Growth (AACG) and worked hard to build it into a stable and effective
             nationwide organization. As a member of the New Jersey Chapter, I attended a
             number of the local meetings, spoke before one or two of them, and read the
             AACG Newsletter with interest for several years. Later, this organization
             combined with a group of European crystal growers to become the International
             Organization of Crystal Growth, the IOCG.
                In the words of Kenneth Jackson, “One of the prime motivations for starting
             the AACG, in addition to establishing a forum where we could assemble to
             interchange our news and views on the subject, was to promote crystal growth
             and to provide an identity for our field. In this, Bob had a special talent, and he
             was effective and successful at improving our image in the scientific community
             and the world at large.”
                After the Journal of Crystal Growth began publication in 1967 under the
             founding editor, M.Scheiber, Laudise became one of the editors in 1974 and
             continued in that capacity, or as an adviser, until 1998.
                As his career progressed, Robert Laudise’s professional interests broadened.
             The group of people under his supervision worked on an increasingly large
             variety of materials, using a great variety of techniques. The properties they were
             interested in were primarily electronic and optical. The scope did not include
             metallic, polymeric, or other structural crystals, but within the scope there was
             great variety.
                As a spokesman for crystal growth and the behavior of materials more
             generally, Laudise was an active participant in the pertinent professional societies
             both as a member and in various officiating positions. He was a past president of
             the American Association for Crystal Growth as well as the International
             Organization of Crystal Growth. In addition he was a past chairman of the Solid
             State Chemistry Subdivision of the American Chemical Society. The American
             Association for the Advancement of Science elected him as a fellow, as did the
             ROBERT A.LAUDISE                                         162
             Mineralogical Society. Other professional societies of which he was a member
             were the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (senior member),
             American Ceramic Society (fellow), Sigma Xi, Electrochemical Society,
             Materials Research Society (founding member), Federation of Materials Societies
             (president), and American Philosophical Society.
                Many people receive prizes for their professional work, but few have prizes
             named for them. In the present case, the International Organization of Crystal
             Growth established the Laudise Prize in 1989. Other prizes awarded to Robert
             Laudise were the Sawyer Prize, 1976; A.D.Little Fellow (MIT), 1976; IOCG
             Crystal Growth Prize, 1984; Industrial Research Magazine’s IR-100, 1989;
             American Chemical Society’s Materials Chemistry Prize, 1990; Orton Award of
            the American Ceramic Society, 1994; Applications to Practice Award of the
            Materials Society, 1995; 200th Anniversary Medal of Union College, 1995; Past
            President’s Award of the Federation of Materials Societies, 1998; and the Eitel
            Award for Excellence in Silicate Science from the American Ceramics Society,
            1996. Robert Laudise was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in
            1980 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 1991.
                Many advisory committees benefited from Laudise’s expertise. Some of the
            committees he advised, together with some of his other professional activities,
            were as follows:
                 •   U.S. President’s Science Advisory Committee, 1970
                 •   Advisory Committee to the National Bureau of Standards (NIST), 1970
                   to 1980; and 1986
                 •   Advisory Committee to the National Aeronautics & Space
                   Administration (NASA), 1975 to 1980
                 •   National Academy of Sciences-NASA Evaluation Committee, 1980
                 •   National Research Council’s (NRC) joint Engineering and Technical
                   Systems National Materials Advisory Board and Physical Sciences,
                   Mathematics, and Resources Solid State Sciences Committee Panel on
                   Materials Research Opportunities and Needs in Materials Science and
                   Engineering, member from 1985 to 1993
             ROBERT A.LAUDISE                                         163
                 •   Committee on Scholarly Exchange with China (PRC), 1980 to 1998
                 •   NRC Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National
                   Materials Advisory Board, member from 1987 to 1998
                 •   Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Materials Science, 1988 to
                 •   Solid State Sciences Committee (NAS), 1980 to 1985
                 •   Visiting committees: Materials Processing Center (MIT), 1987 to 1998
                 •   Alabama A&M Physics Department, 1985 to 1998
                 •   University of Wisconsin Materials Department, 1989 to 1998
                 •   Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 1989 to 1998
                He made many contributions to the literature of materials science and
            technology. He also was the author (or coauthor) of fourteen U.S. patents and 160
            technical papers. For some fourteen years, he was the North American editor of
            the Journal ofCrystal Growth. He was also editor of the Journal of Materials
                Influences of technological activities on environments, and ecologies,
            became a major interest of Robert Laudise in the latter part of his career. He was
            active in encouraging AT&T to establish Industrial Ecology Faculty Fellowships,
            a grant to develop the Journal of Industrial Ecology, and conferences on
            industrial ecology. These conferences allowed practitioners to meet to exchange
            knowledge and engage in policy discussions. He believed that well-implemented
            industrial ecology should pay for itself and provide competitive advantage to
            those practicing it.
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