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Memorial Tributes: Volume 3 (1989)

Chapter: Norman Arland Copeland

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Suggested Citation:"Norman Arland Copeland." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page 88
Suggested Citation:"Norman Arland Copeland." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
×
Page 89
Suggested Citation:"Norman Arland Copeland." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
×
Page 90
Suggested Citation:"Norman Arland Copeland." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
×
Page 91
Suggested Citation:"Norman Arland Copeland." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page 92
Suggested Citation:"Norman Arland Copeland." National Academy of Engineering. 1989. Memorial Tributes: Volume 3. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1384.
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Page 93

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NORMAN ARLAND COPELAND 1915-1984 BY ROBERT L. PIGFORD AND SHELDON E. ISAKOFF NORMAN ARLAND COPELAND a member of the board of cti- rectors and retiree! senior vice-presiclent anct member of the executive committee of E. I. du Pont cle Nemours ant! Com- pany, Inc., cried on April 30, 1984, at the age of sixty-eight. He was born on August 16, 1915, in Mercer County, Ohio, anct grew up in FincIlay, Ohio. He graduates! from the Mas- sachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1936 with a B.S. in mechanical engineering and did postgraduate work at the Swiss Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. Later, he stuctiec! at the University of Delaware, from which he received an M.S. in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1949 in chemical engineering. Dr. Copeland began his career with the Du Pont Company in 1937 as a development engineer in the Engineering De- partment. In the next few years, he advanced through as- signments in textile fibers and neoprene synthetic rubber plants to become a senior supervisor. After a leave of absence from Du Pont to complete his education, Copeland became a senior design engineer: By 1950 he was managing engi- neering (resign for Du Pont's Film Department. He was transferred formally to the Film Department in 1951 and over the next fourteen years was a plant manager, assistant director of manufacturing, assistant director of research ancT development, anct assistant general manager of the depart- ment. 89

go MEMORIAL TRIBUTES In 1965 Norman returned to the Engineering Department as assistant chief engineer. In 1970 he was namer! chief en- gineer and from this post directecI one of the largest private process design and construction engineering organizations in the world. (The Du Pont Engineering Department hac! five thousand employees, and there were another ten thou- sand people on construction contractors' payrolls.) Un(ler his leadership, the Engineering Department de- signed and built capital facilities at a cost of more than $2 billion on fifty sites in ten countries. These facilities includect what at that time were the worId's largest plants for the pro- cluction of methanol, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyester film. Norman was also a director of the Du Pont affiliate, the Rem- ington Arms Company. In 1973 Dr. Copeland was named senior vice-presiclent, a member of Du Pont's executive committee, and a director of the company. He served in those capacities until his retire- ment in 1977, continuing thereafter as a member of the board of directors. In addition to his election to the National Academy of En- gineering in 1977, Norman was a fellow and member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a member of the American Chemical Society, and a member of the Tau Beta Pi honor society. In 1974 he was awarder! the Society of Man- ufacturing Engineers Interprofessional Cooperation Award. In ~ 976 the Delaware Society of Professional Engineers named him the state's outstanding engineer. He was a regis- terect engineer in Delaware. Norman Copeland was a proponent of lifelong learning and maintained strong ties with a number of academic insti- tutions. He was a member of the visiting committees for the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and the De- partment of Chemical Engineering of Lehigh University. In 1969 he establishect in Du Pont's Engineering Department one of the inclustry's most ambitious and successful continu- ing education programs. The program, which is still quite active toclay, has provicle(1 new knowleclge and skills over a wide range of engineering topics for thousands of Du Pont . . ~ · . · . · .

NORMAN ARLAND COPELAND 91 engineers. In addition, as a member of the University of Delaware Research Foundation, Dr. Copeland helped many new faculty members begin work in their chosen research fields. In Wilmington, Delaware, where Du Font has its head- quarters and where Norman Copeland resided until he moved to Tequesta, Floricia, in INS, he served on the board of directors of the Wilmington Medical Center anct was a strong supporter of the Boy Scouts. He was also a member of the boars! of directors for Community Housing, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that provides housing for moderate-income families. Dr. Copeland was involved in the development of viscose rayon and of the technology for its manufacture, all of which preceded the commercialization of nylon and other synthetic fibers. In addition, he contributed to the development of neoprene, the first commercial synthetic rubber. During WorIcl War IT, he helped improve production techniques for the large-scale manufacture of neoprene. Immectiately fol- lowing the war, at the request of the U.S. government, Nor- man was "loaned" to the U.S. Army in West Germany to as- sess technical aspects of the German chemical industry. Following this assignment, he was involved in the devel- opment of the first successful polyester him and helped pio- neer its use as a high-temperature dielectric ant! as a base for magnetic tape. He also helped develop polyvinyl fluoride film, which is used in structural building panels, and assisted in the production of polyimide film, which is applied to coat wire for high-temperature use and to insulate cable. It shouIcl also be noted that the Kapton polyimide film he helped develop has been widely used in space vehicles. Dr. Copeland advocated a forceful and responsible ap- proach to air ant! water protection. He served the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering for two years as a member of the National Research Council's (NRC) Commis- sion on Natural Resources. Norman said, "We must be sure that what we do really improves our environment and is not just a lot of motion . . . that pollution control measures we

92 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES require are justified anct that the benefits gained are com- mensurate with the costs." Norman Copelanc! was an extraordinarily successful engi- neer in the chemical industry at a time of rapist inclustrial expansion of facilities for the manufacture of tociay's success- fut polymeric materials. He combined a talent for managing the large groups of engineers who were needed for the cle- sign of plants and an unclerstanding of the values of an ap- proach to clevelopment based on engineering principles. His management skills were obvious to those who worked with him because he tract both the ability to clo superior en- gineering work himself and the kind of personal qualities that attracted! loyalty from the members of the organizations of which he was a part. He was a highly compassionate per- son of the highest integrity. He dealt fairly with individuals under his supervision and had the knack of welding the best talents of his subordinates into an integrated team effort. Personally, Norman was a private person, a voracious reader of technical ant! business journals, and a student of many diverse fielcis including foreign languages, history, and cultures. He loved to travel and clic! so extensively. He be- came fluent in German while studying in Switzerland as a young man and maintained this fluency throughout his life. He lover! to visit Germany, and he often attended German festivals in the Uniter! States. He also enjoyed! reading detec- tive novels in French and German. Dr. Copeland was an avid sports enthusiast, with a partic- ular fonciness for golf and, to a lesser extent, shooting and fishing. He belongecI to the Wilmington, Du Pont, anti Te- questa country clubs and the Biderman, Jupiter Hills, anct Pine Valley golf clubs. Accorcling to his son Eric, Norman described the course at Pine Valley as "a great builder of character." He is survived by two sons, Dr. Eric S. Copeland of Wil- mington, Delaware, anc! Dr. Terry M. Copeland of Florence, South Carolina. Norman's wife, the former Gladys Tucker of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, diecI in September 1982.

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