Charles E. Reed
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Charles Reed begins the interview with a discussion of his family background and early education. Reed grew up in Findlay, Ohio, and credits his high school teachers with fostering his interest in the sciences. He attended Case School of Applied Science, earning his B.S. in chemistry in 1934. At Case, he was influenced greatly by Professor Carl Prutton, and Reed decided to continue on to graduate school. There, Reed wanted to pursue both chemistry and chemical engineering, and he combined his interests at MIT, where he earned his D. Sc. in chemical engineering in 1937. His thesis focused on colloid chemistry, which led to his later fascination with polymer chemistry. Upon receiving his doctorate, Reed became an assistant professor at MIT. While there, he also began to consult for various companies. In 1942, he accepted a permanent position with General Electric Company, where he spent the rest of his career. His first work involved organosilicon polymers and the scaling up of processes. When G. E. decided to set up a chemical engineering department, Reed was selected as the manager. Through the years, Reed gradually moved up the management ladder, becoming senior vice-president of corporate technology in 1971. During his time at G. E. , he helped scale up the silicone processes and worked on phenolic laminates, the commercial development of synthetic diamonds, and the development of both polycarbonates and polyphenylene oxide. Reed concludes the interview with his thoughts on the future of G.E. and his experience as a member of one of its Sector Boards.
|1934||Case Institute of Technology||BS||Chemistry|
|1937||Massachusetts Institute of Technology||DSc||Chemical Engineering|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
General Electric Company
Elected, National Academy of Engineering
Commercial Development Association Award
Table of Contents
Growing up in Findlay, Ohio. Influence of high school teachers. Interest in science. Siblings.
Attending Case School of Applied Science. Interest in both chemistry and chemical engineering. Influence of Professor Carl Prutton. Decision to attend graduate school at MIT. Thesis on colloid chemistry. Teaching position at MIT. Consulting. Growing interest in polymers.
Decision to work for G. E. Organosilicon polymers. Scaling up fluid bed process. Working with Eugene Rochow and Abraham Marshall.
Setting up Chemical Engineering department. Designing full-scale silicone plant. Cross-licensing agreements with Dow. Work on phenolic laminates. Moving up in management.
Discovery of polycarbonates by Daniel W. Fox. Commercial development of synthetic diamonds. Development of polycarbonates and PPO. Emphasis on Noryl.
Recent expansion of G. E. Sector Board.
About the Interviewer
George Wise is a communications specialist at the General Electric Research and Development Center in Schenectady, New York. He holds a BS in engineering physics from Lehigh University, an MS in physics from University of Michigan, and a PhD in history from Boston University. He worked briefly as a systems engineer before entering his current career in public relations. He has published a book and several articles about the history of industrial research, invention and science. His current research interest is how people can learn from history.