With almost 500 publications to his credit, Case Western Reserve University's Arthur H. Heuer is a leading researcher in his field, having pioneered studies in transformation toughening of ceramics, the application of electron microscopy to engineering ceramics, biological ceramics, materials science of MEMS and paraequilibrium carburization of stainless steels. Heuer is known as "Dr. Zirconia" for his work on transformation toughening of zirconia-based ceramics. His research, conducted with Arnold Caplan, on the structure of eggshells and mollusk shells, has broken new ground in applying materials science to understanding biological structures. Both the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Louvre in Paris have called upon Heuer's expertise to characterize the Renaissance ceramics in their collections.
For those and many other scholarly reasons, Heuer, University Professor and Kyocera Professor of Ceramics in the department of materials science and engineering, was named recipient of the Frank and Dorothy Humel Hovorka Prize, one of the highest honors a university faculty member can receive. Heuer will receive the award at Case Western Reserve's Commencement ceremonies on Sunday, May 18.
"I am thrilled and delighted to receive the Hovorka Prize," said Heuer, who joined the Case School of Engineering faculty Aug. 1, 1967, immediately following the merger between the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University. "I've received several honors since I've been at the university, and I'm very proud of this award as well. Mrs. Hovorka is a remarkable woman and a wonderful supporter of the university. I wish we had more like her."
Honorary Case Western Reserve trustee Dorothy Humel Hovorka established the prize in 1994 in memory of her late husband, Frank, who was for many years a leading member of the university's department of chemistry and an international authority in the field of electrochemistry. First presented that same year, the Hovorka Prize is awarded annually to recognize exceptional achievement by an active or emeritus member of the faculty whose accomplishments in teaching, research, and scholarly service have benefited the community, the nation, and the world. Members of the university community submit nominations for the prize. From these nominations, a committee chaired by the provost, recommends a recipient to the president.
Heuer's studies of surface hardening and improved corrosion resistance of stainless steel and titanium-based alloys have led to a collaboration with Swagelok Corporation and the breakthrough technology SAT12©, a method for heat treating austentitic stainless steels that enables large-scale carbon absorption, dramatically improving hardness and other performance characteristics. The SAT12© process, referred to as "case hardening," enables ordinary stainless steel to adopt performance characteristics of expensive alloys, like Hastelloy or titanium. In addition, a $1 million grant from the Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust, named for Swagelok's founder, led to the renaming and allocation of more resources to the Swagelok Center for Surface Analysis of Materials (formerly known as CSAM), a multiuser analytical facility providing instrumentation for microstructural characterization of materials as well as surface and near-surface chemical analysis.
"The Swagelok Center is a world-class facility," Heuer said. "I would be hard-pressed to mention another university that has the breadth and depth of our materials characterization facilities."
Heuer has been very successful in raising funds to support the Case School of Engineering and in obtaining research funding, including nearly $10 million in state and federal funding through his collaboration with Swagelok alone. His important research also has enabled him to involve many students in his work. He has trained 88 students in masters and doctoral programs and approximately 50 postdoctoral fellows in materials science.
Heuer's contributions to the university as a whole are wide-ranging. He initiated the three-year-old University Distinguished Lecture Series, which has brought thinkers of great distinction such as Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, Lisa Randall and Kay Jamison to campus. He is also a member of the planning committee for the Year of Darwin, the university's year-long celebration of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Heuer was co-chair of the National Academy of Engineering Regional Meeting on Biotechnology, held at Severance Hall in 2000, which drew the largest audience ever for the academy's regional meetings. Another NAE symposium Heuer organized and chaired in 2006, "Vaccine Production: Potential Engineering Approaches to a Pandemic," reflected his interest in applying engineering to biological systems to solve social problems.
Heuer is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has received many professional awards, including the W. David Kingery Award and the John Jeppson Award from the American Ceramics Society, and is an external scientific member of the Max Planck Society. In 1997 he was the first ceramic scientist to receive the prestigious American Society of Metals Gold Award. In 2001, Case Western Reserve recognized Heuer's many years of outstanding contributions to materials engineering and to the university by naming him a University Professor, the highest scholarly rank conferred by the university. He is the only the fourth Case Western Reserve professor to have the title and first engineer to hold that distinction; in addition, he is the only active University Professor. The other three University Professors were emeriti—Frederick Robbins, Harland Wood and Herman Stein.
"I'm enjoying what I'm doing too much," he said. "My research career is thriving and our effort with Swagelok is an entirely new career for me because it involves working with stainless steel. My work has always been at the interface between metallurgy and ceramics. In the past, I've applied metallurgical principles to ceramic problems. But in the last six to seven years, it has been quite exciting for me to get into stainless steel research, a totally new field for me."
With all Heuer has accomplished, however, he says that one of his most cherished memories of his time at Case Western Reserve was when he was named Kyocera Professor of Ceramics in 1985. His elderly parents were able to make a special trip to Cleveland from Florida to attend a small dinner given in their son's honor by the university administration at the Gwinn Estate in Bratenahl.
His father, who was 81 at the time, died a short time later. His mother died the following year.
"It was the last time they ever attended an event like that," Heuer said.
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