Institute for Advanced Materials | History

Advanced Legacy

Case Western Reserve University's Institute for Advanced Materials builds on a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism that traces its roots back to 1880 and the establishment of the Case School of Applied Science. The school rose to prominence in the study of chemical engineering, metallurgy and mining—winning accolades in the 1930s for electrochemistry research and later establishing itself as a pioneer in the fuel cell industry. In 1962, it established the nation's first Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering to meet the growing demand for polymer research.

Key innovations and accomplishments include:

1897: Herbert Dow (CSAS 1888) establishes Dow Chemical Company.

1916: William R. Collings makes America's first magnesium metal.

1928: Brothers Kent Hale Smith (CSAS '17), A. Kelvin Smith (CSAS '22) and Vincent Smith establish specialty chemical company Lubrizol in Wickliffe, Ohio.

1930: Case alumnus Al Gross (CSAS '36) invents the walkie-talkie.

1951: Ernest B. Yeager develops Case Western Reserve’s first fuel cell.

1955: Polykarp Kusch (CIT '31) becomes the first Case alumnus to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics.

1962: The Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering is founded as the first academic polymer department in the United States.

1968: The Department of Biomedical Engineering is established.

1976: Ernest B. Yeager, the Frank Hovorka Professor of Chemistry, establishes what was later rededicated the Yeager Center of Electrochemical Sciences, one of the largest university research groups in electrochemistry in the United States.

1988: Biomedical engineering professor Michael Neuman and colleagues C.C. Liu and Wen Ko develop respiratory sensors to monitor the breathing of premature infants.

1990: Arthur H. Heuer, University Professor and Kyocera Professor of Ceramics, earns membership in the National Academy of Engineering for his pioneering studies in transformation toughened ceramics and the application of electron microscopy to engineering ceramics and for contributions to education in ceramics.

1995: John C. Angus, chemical engineering professor, elected to the National Academy of Engineering for his research on the growth of diamond and diamond-like films by low-pressure chemical vapor deposition.

2003: Case Western Reserve University is the lead university for the Wright Fuel Cell Group, a university-industry collaboration founded with an $18 million grant from the state of Ohio to advance research, development, training and education in fuel cell technology.

2006: The National Science Foundation awards the $19 million to create the university's first NSF Science and Technology Center: the Center for Layered Polymeric Systems (CLiPS)

2008: Case Western Reserve professors create a new material that mimics the sea cucumber and could revolutionize implantable biomedical devices. The biomaterial is hard during manufacturing but soft in the body's watery environment. It's less likely to irritate the immune system and discourages infection and scarring.

2009: Alumnus Donald E. Witenhafer elected to the Plastics Hall of Fame.

The university continues this legacy of leadership with the Institute for Advanced Materials.