Earl L. Warrick

Born: September 23, 1911 | Butler, PA, US
Died: Friday, November 15, 2002 | San Jose, CA, US
Photograph of Earl L. Warrick

Dow Historical Collection, CHF Collections

Earl L. Warrick begins his oral history interview with a description of his childhood, which involved frequent moves between cities, remembering a seventh grade teacher who inspired his interest in chemical engineering by having him build a one¬≠tube radio. While at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Warrick was disappointed by the chemical engineering and switched to physical chemistry, in which he received a master's degree. Warrick describes his experiences at the Mellon Institute, where he developed a glass coating. He received his ScD for a kinetic study carried out almost exclusively on nights and weekends. While at Dow Corning, Warrick helped develop rubber, polymer, and silicone research including the famous Silly Putty.  He mentions the influence of several colleagues, especially McGregor, Collings, Hyde, Bass, and Speier. Warrick concludes by commenting on his position at Saginaw Valley State College, his current writing, and the changes that have occurred in chemistry throughout his career. 

The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.

			

Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0045
No. of pages: 46
Minutes: 163

Interview Sessions

James J. Bohning
16 January 1986
Midland, Michigan

Abstract of Interview

Earl L. Warrick begins the interview with a description of his parents and childhood, which involved frequent moves between cities. He remembers a seventh grade teacher who inspired his interest in chemical engineering by having him build a one-tube radio. He tells of his undergraduate years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where the chemical engineering department was a bit disappointing. This led him to switch to physical chemistry, in which he received a master's degree. After recounting his year at Brown, Warrick describes his experiences at the Mellon Institute, where he developed a glass coating. He received his ScD for a kinetic study carried out almost exclusively on nights and weekends, while he continued work at Mellon. Warrick summarizes his career at Dow Corning, including the development of the “200 fluid,” extensive rubber, polymer, and silicone research, his invention of “Silly Putty,” and his work with silicon. He mentions the influence of several colleagues, especially McGregor, Collings, Hyde, Bass, and Speier. Warrick concludes by commenting on his position at Saginaw Valley State College, his current writing, and the changes that have occurred in chemistry throughout his career.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1933 Carnegie Institute of Technology BS Chemistry
1934 Carnegie Institute of Technology MS Physical Chemistry
1943 Carnegie Institute of Technology ScD Physical Chemistry

Professional Experience

Carnegie Institute of Technology

1933 to 1934
Teaching Assistant, Chemistry
1943 to 1945
Instructor, Mathematics

Brown University

1934 to 1935
Teaching Assistant, Chemistry

Mellon Institute for Industrial Research

1935 to 1937
Assistant
1937 to 1946
Fellow, Organo-Silicon Chemistry
1946 to 1955
Senior Fellow
1955 to 1956
Administrative Fellow

University of Pittsburgh

1947 to 1948
Instructor, Chemistry

Dow Corning Corporation

1956 to 1959
Assistant Director of Research
1959 to 1962
Manager, Hyper-Pure Silicon Division
1962 to 1968
General Manager, Electronic Products Division
1968 to 1972
Manager, New Products Business
1972 to 1976
Senior Management Consultant

Saginaw Valley State College

1979 to 1980
Interim Dean, Science, Engineering and Technology
1983 to 1984
Interim Dean, Science, Engineering and Technology
1984
Special Assistant to the Vice President for Academic Affairs

Honors

Year(s) Award
1976

Goodyear Medal, Rubber Division, American Chemical Society

Table of Contents

Family and Childhood
1

Description of parents. Moves frequently from city to city. Strongly influenced toward chemical engineering by seventh grade teacher. Builds one-tube radio.

Carnegie Institute of Technology
3

Attends due to location and economic circumstances. Finds that chemical engineering department is not very strong. Warner advises to pursue master's in physical chemistry. Chemical engineering facilities quite poor. Monitors freshman chemistry labs and recitations as graduate student.

Brown University
5

Convinced by Warner to get PhD. Works with Kraus in impressive lab. Comparison of graduate students' situation under Kraus and Noyes. Dielectric constant measurements. Starts work on precision condenser but leaves after a year to get a job.

Mellon Institute
7

Corning sponsors fellowship. Develops glass coating. Experiments with etherless Grignard reagents. Combines efforts with Hyde at Corning. Dow Corning is formed. Collings is very effective leader.

Graduate Education
14

Takes courses at University of Pittsburgh while working. Accepted as part-time Sc. D. student at Carnegie Tech while still at Mellon. Kinetic study under Fugassi, primarily on nights and weekends. Marriage in the fall of 1940. Develops formula for calculation of equilibria.

Dow Corning
16

Interacts frequently with Hyde and others from Corning. McGregor comes to Midland. Bass (who eventually becomes president) is director of research and head of development. Work in radiation chemistry. Develops "200 fluid" which prevents foaming in the oil in aircraft. Work on laminating resins. Develops silicon caulking for own aluminum windows. Begins work with rubbers by gelling "200 fluid. " Investigates silicas which lead to high-strength rubber. Experiments using boric oxide dehydration lead to invention of Silly Putty. Begins use of acid polymerization techniques. Intense study of fundamentals of rubber. Works closely with McGregor, whom he describes as an "ideal boss. " Work with silicones. Moves into silicon in 1959. Learns about growing them from Knapic in San Francisco. Goes to Germany to get Siemens license. Begins to make single crystals by zone refining. Lowery convinces to concentrate on polycrystals. Becomes manager of New Products Business to push ahead projects that had not been fully developed. Group develops foam-filled tire and anti-microbial material. Semi-retires in 1972 as per company policy, but continues to consult.

Saginaw Valley State College
33

Travels. Visits daughter in Zaire. Yien contacts to fill interim position as dean of the newly formed School of Science and Engineering. Permanent replacement finally found, but continues on part-time basis. Works to secure agreement from other schools to put Saginaw's engineering degree program in place.

Mineralogy
35

Interest in jade begins on trip to Hearst Castle. Enjoys working with it as a hobby; makes jewelry for wife. Gives talks on it, travels to museums to see collections.

Changes in Chemistry Throughout Career
36

Terrific development in technology. Skepticism about consequences of tendency to work with only very small quantities of chemicals. Believes there is a great deal more to be done with silicon chemistry—the possibilities are endless.

Notes
40
Index
41

About the Interviewer

James J. Bohning

James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society.  Bohning passed away in September 2011.