Alfred University to dedicate Inamori Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics
Alfred University will dedicate the Inamori Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics in a ceremony at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, in Binns-Merrill Hall on the AU campus. The event is open to the public.
Dr. Kazuo Inamori, founder and chairman emeritus of Kyocera Corp., one of the world’s largest manufacturers of high-tech ceramics, will be on hand for the dedication.
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“We are deeply honored that Dr. Inamori is able to join us for this occasion,” said Alfred University President Charles M. Edmondson. “Dr. Inamori has been a valued friend to the University and in particular to our School of Engineering, so we are delighted he will be here as we dedicate this museum in his honor.”
Although they sound similar, the “fine ceramics” in this museum should not be confused with “fine china.” Today’s engineered ceramic materials have been developed primarily for cutting-edge applications in science and industry.
“The Inamori Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics will play an important role in educating young people about the vital role of ceramics in the future economy — in areas ranging from Information Technology to medical devices, diagnostic systems, industrial equipment, renewable energy and environmental preservation,” President Edmondson added. “Equally important, by documenting the work of Dr. Inamori and Kyocera Corp.’s leadership in the advancement of science and global well-being, it will provide an inspiring example of what can be accomplished by imagination, hard work, and ethical commitment.”
A symposium in Dr. Inamori’s honor will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday. May 10, in Nevins Theater, Powell Campus Center. The symposium – “Ceramics: Past, Present and Future”– is open to the public, free of charge. Those planning to attend are asked to email Marlene Wightman, director of continuing education, at Wightman@alfred.edu or to call her at 607.871.2425.
Speakers, in addition to Dr. Inamori, will include: Marina Pascucci, a 1977 alumna of the University who is president of CeraNova in Marlborough, MA, and president of the American Ceramics Society; Terry Michalske, a 1975 alumnus who is now director of the Savannah River federal research laboratory; Gary Messing, a 1973 alumnus who is head of the materials science and engineering department at Pennsylvania State University; and Linda Jones, associate vice president and head of the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, who is a Fellow of the ceramics society and a member of its board of directors.
Displays within the museum highlight the history of ceramic materials, which can be traced back to 24,000 BCE (Before Common Era) to today, where fine (also known as advanced or engineered) ceramics are an enabling technology in countless everyday items — from computers and cell phones to more specialized applications like fuel cells, solar panels and biomedical implants.
“The museum helps solidify Alfred’s reputation as a center for ceramic research and education,” said Doreen Edwards, dean of the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering. She says she anticipates visitors will include specialists and scientists. “People who are involved in the manufacture of ceramics and related technologies will find this of interest,” she said, but there is also plenty to draw the general public.
Adjacent to the museum is what will be called the Discovery Lab, which will be the University’s center for outreach activities involving students from kindergarten through 12th grade and their teachers. Working with Marlene Wightman, director of continuing education, and Steve Pilgrim, professor of materials science and engineering, faculty will develop programming, including demonstrations and hands-on activities, appropriate to the grade level and interests of the students, Edwards explained.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the new museum is the opportunity to showcase both the artistic and technical sides of ceramic materials in one location, noted Jones. The Schein-Joseph Museum of Ceramics, which has extensive collection of ceramic art, is located adjacent to the new museum in Binns-Merrill Hall. “This is an absolute reflection of the College of Ceramics that joins both the School of Art & Design and the Inamori School of Engineering,” said Jones. “From the inception of the College, it was recognized that creativity and technical understanding are essential to address the challenges of our time.”
The Inamori Kyocera Museum of Fine Ceramics was established to recognize a $10 million gift to the School of Engineering in Dr. Inamori’s honor by Kyocera Corporation. The University also named its School of Engineering for Dr. Inamori. Actual funding to create the museum came from New York State as a partial match for the gift from Kyocera Corp.
The museum is located in Binns-Merrill Hall, the oldest of the New York State College of Ceramics buildings on campus. The College of Ceramics was created by an act of the NYS Legislature in 1900. Originally called the NYS School of Clayworking, the College has evolved into two schools – the School of Engineering and the School of Art & Design – each with an international reputation for excellence.
About Kazuo Inamori:
Dr. Inamori, 79, graduated from Kagoshima University in 1955 with a degree in engineering. He joined Shofu Industries, which made porcelain insulators for use in electrical transmission lines. Intrigued by the possibility that ceramics could be engineered or designed for emerging technology applications, Dr. Inamori founded the Kyoto Ceramic Co., Ltd. (now Kyocera) in 1959 with 3 million yen invested by acquaintances. He served as president and chairman of the board until 1997, when he assumed the title of founder and chairman emeritus.
In 1984, while still overseeing Kyocera Corp., Dr. Inamori established DDI Corp. in Japan as a provider of telecommunications services. DDI merged in 2000 with two competitors to become KDDI, now Japan’s second-largest telecom carrier, with Inamori serving as chairman emeritus and honorary advisor. In February 2010, he became chairman of Japan Airlines.
Dr. Inamori’s interests extend beyond business and industry. In 1984, he established the non-profit Inamori Foundation, best known for awarding the Kyoto Prize, an international award that recognizes individuals and groups that have made outstanding contributions to the global community and humankind.
His relationship with Alfred University dates back to the 1980s. The University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 1988, recognizing his leadership in the field of advanced ceramic materials, becoming the first university in the United States to recognize Dr. Inamori's contributions to the field of advanced ceramics. He created Alfred University’s Inamori Scholarships, which assist deserving students studying art or engineering.
The $10 million endowment from Kyocera Corporation for the School of Engineering allowed the School to create and support four endowed professorships, which are awarded to outstanding scholars and researchers in ceramics and materials science.