Fiat Glass Excellence & Impact at Alfred University

Robert Schaut ’92 (B.S., ceramic engineering; minor glass science engineering) has been in the news for his work with Corning Incorporated, leading his company’s efforts to research and develop the glass vials that will be used to transport COVID-19 vaccines. His work, and that of many engineering alumni, continues to shine a spotlight on our University and our glass science program.

Rob, scientific director for Corning Pharmaceutical Technologies, co-invented Valor, Corning’s new medical glass container. Valor pharmaceutical glass containers are more durable and resistant to flaking or cracking; less susceptible to particulate contamination than vials made from conventional glass; can be filled faster and with a decreased chance of breaking; and can better withstand the harsh subzero temperatures needed to store some of the vaccines being produced.

Under the White House’s Operation Warp Speed initiative, the U.S. Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services selected Valor glass packaging to accelerate delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Corning’s agreement with the government required them to expand manufacturing capacity quickly to make an additional 164 million vials annually.

[See stories about Rob and Valor pharmaceutical glass containers in the New Yorker and Wall Street Journal. Valor glass was also recently featured on MSNBC News]

Rob is but one of more than 430 Alfred University alumni employed at Corning Incorporated worldwide. Another Corning innovation with ties to our University is Gorilla Glass, a thin, durable, touch-sensitive, cover glass that has been used in billions of cellphones, tablets, and touch-screen devices worldwide. There have been multiple generations of Gorilla Glass since it was introduced in 2008. John Mauro ’01 (B.S., glass science engineering; ’06 Ph.D. glass science engineering) spent 18 years as a glass researcher at Corning Incorporated, during which time he co-invented three iterations of Gorilla Glass. He is now a professor of materials science and engineering and chair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State University. John is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS) and the Society of Glass Technology, and was recently named a 2020 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Don McPherson, who earned master’s and doctoral degrees in glass science engineering from Alfred University in 1984 and 1988, respectively, is co-founder and science director at EnChroma Labs, a San Francisco-area company that manufactures lenses that can effectively correct the most common form of color blindness. Don developed the technology used in EnChroma glasses.

Our New York State College of Ceramics is home to world-renowned programs in glass and ceramics education and research. We are the only institution in the nation to offer a doctoral degree program in glass science on top of  bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Collectively, our programs in ceramics, glass science, and materials science engineering are ranked among the top 50 materials science and engineering programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report

Alfred University is proud to count Rob Schaut, John Mauro, and Don McPherson among our many alumni whose accomplishments as glass researchers are noteworthy and groundbreaking, and we are grateful for the investment that New York State makes in our College of Ceramics. 

Fiat glass excellence and impact at Alfred University!