Gary Calabrese ’79 elected to National Academy of Engineering

Gary S. Calabrese ’79

Gary S. Calabrese ’79 and James Foley ’64 were recently elected members of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), receiving one of the highest distinctions given to engineers in the United States.
The NAE cited Calabrese for “the development of advanced electronic materials and processes for semiconductor device manufacture.”
The NAE and its sister organizations, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, provide guidance to the federal government and conduct independent studies in issues surrounding science, technology and engineering.
No stranger to the academies, Calabrese has served for the past two years as co-chairman of the National Academies’ Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, which brings together leading chemists, chemical engineers and experts from other disciplines to produce studies for our nation’s decision makers.
Calabrese, vice president of science and technology at Corning Inc., considers his election an impetus to serve his country further.
“It’s a tremendous honor and privilege, and I view it as a call to help even more this nation excel in science and technology,” he says. “I look forward to continuing to work with the academy to improve our country’s science and technology and ultimately our economic competitiveness and national security.”
Although Calabrese was elected for his work in chemical engineering, he majored in chemistry at Lehigh. As an undergraduate, he savored the social life available at the Theta Chi Fraternity and cheered at football games and wrestling matches, but Calabrese also spent large amounts of his free time in the laboratory.
Kamil Klier, university distinguished professor of chemistry, met Calabrese while he was an undergraduate student studying the synthesis of inorganic compounds with Charles Kraihanzel, now professor emeritus of chemistry.
“He was an outstanding student and a very civilized, pleasant chap to work with,” Klier says of the young Calabrese.
“Lehigh prepared me very, very well”
Later, Klier visited him at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where Calabrese earned a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry and held a postdoctoral position.
“I felt that Lehigh prepared me very, very well. I had a great foundation in the core academics, and I left Lehigh with a good depth of understanding of both theoretical and applied chemistry. I had no problems competing with other students at another top-notch university, which MIT is,” he says.
In 1983, Calabrese left MIT and embarked on his professional career as a research chemist at Polaroid Corp. Two years later, he led a research group at the Massachusetts-based Allied Health and Scientific Products Division of Allied-Signal.
Calabrese shifted his focus from health-care technology to electronics and semiconductors when he joined the Shipley Company in 1989. There, he oversaw advanced chip lithography and metal deposition projects, including a joint project with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. In 1994, Calabrese became Shipley's North American director of engineering, responsible for scaling up manufacturing processes for new products, customer technical support and plant engineering. In 1997, he led research projects as global director of R&D for the firm's microelectronics materials business. He assumed the position of Shipley’s vice president and chief technology officer two years later.
Shipley was eventually acquired by the Rohm and Haas Co., and Calabrese became the first director of its emerging technologies group in 2002. His department primarily developed technology that supported new product lines for the company. He rose to the position of chief technology officer, and was elected a vice president of Rohm and Haas, in 2003.
“The technology I worked on at Shipley and Rohm and Haas really helped enable the advances in electronics we take for granted—for example, advances that allowed computers to continue to get faster and smaller,” Calabrese says. “We enabled those devices to be made by making designer polymers that were and are still key components used in the manufacture of semiconductor chips. We designed, synthesized, tested and scaled up with a level of precision that is not even seen in the drug industry. It is this work by me and the talented people I worked with that led to my election to the NAE. Although it is a great honor for me personally, I am also very proud of the great work that was done by my colleagues.”
Earlier this year, Calabrese accepted the position of vice president, science and technology at Corning, Inc., a world leader in specialty glass and ceramics. Their products appear in liquid crystal display (LCD) flat panel screens, optical fibers and cables, emission filters, and optical biosensors used in medicinal research. Calabrese oversees several emerging businesses within Corning’s strategic growth initiative.
Corning’s executive president and chief technology officer, Joseph Miller Jr. recruited Calabrese.
“When I learned that Gary was available, I jumped at the opportunity to bring him into Corning,” Miller says. “Experienced leadership in new product and process R&D is critical to a company like Corning where the strategy is to grow through innovation. Dr. Calabrese’s experience clearly aligns well with our strategy.”
Calabrese also advises Lehigh’s department of chemical engineering as part of the department’s external board. He brings a “broad overview of the profession” and “presence on the field” to the board, says Tony McHugh, P.C. Rossin Senior Professor and chair of the department.
Calabrese has written dozens of technical papers and patents and is the member of the American Chemical Society, the Industrial Research Institute, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and SPIE-The International Society for Optical Engineering.
--Becky Straw