A Colorado School of Mines professor was recently honored for his contributions to industry at the Association for Iron and Steel Technology’s annual conference and exposition, held May 7-10 in Philadelphia.
John Speer, John Henry Moore Distinguished Professor of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, was presented the Benjamin F. Fairless Award, which recognizes distinguished achievement in iron and steel production and ferrous metallurgy. The award was established in 1954 in honor of the chairman of the board of U.S. Steel.
Speer also delivered the J. Keith Brimacombe Memorial Lecture, titled “The Continuing Development of Modern Steel Products.” The award was established in 1999 to honor the president and chief of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and longtime faculty member at the University of British Columbia.
Speer said profitability has been a challenge for the steel industry and competition is always fierce among companies both domestic and overseas, but there continue to be many exciting developments. One example is the development of higher-strength steels that reduce the weight of cars, improving fuel efficiency.
“I hope that my Brimacombe Lecture is able to show how steel developments have continued to occur over the past century,” Speer said in an interview with AIST. “If anything, progress is accelerating, and in some ways I think the past few years have been among the most exciting ever in steel product development.”
“It is a great honor and quite a surprise to receive two association awards, with so many deserving candidates,” Speer said. “I have certainly been blessed to work in steel development now for 35 years, and to be able to be associated with some interesting developments that hopefully have an impact on steel technology in the present and future. Receiving recognition that your peers appreciate some of these efforts is a fantastic pleasure.”
Speer grew up in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, home of Bethlehem Steel Corporation, which at one time was the second-largest steel producer in the United States. His father and maternal grandfather made steel for the company, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in metallurgy and materials engineering from Lehigh University, just down the street.
After earning his PhD from the University of Oxford, he worked at Bethlehem Steel for 14 years before joining Mines in 1997. He also leads the Advanced Steel Processing and Products Research Center.
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