Daniel Graves, the 2006 recipient of the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers' Technical Award, has earned 48 patents in his 32-year career working at Bridgestone/Firestone in research and development of synthetic rubber.
But it was the first patent he received that may be the most interesting, because of when he received it.
Graves had not yet completed his college degree when he earned a co-patent with his boss John Fieldhouse for a catalyst for the polymerization of phosphazene.
It was the late 1970s and he was a technician in the elastomer synthesis group at central research for Firestone and was going to school at night to earn his bachelor's degree.
``It was unusual at that time for a technician to receive a patent as a primary inventor,'' Graves said.
At the time, he had only an associate's degree in chemical technology from the University of Akron.
``His co-discovery of a catalyst for ring-opening polymerization of cyclic phosphazenes was most important in scale-up and ultimate commercialization of polyphosphazene fluoroelastomers,'' the IISRP said.
Since then, Graves went on to earn bachelor's and master's degrees in polymer science from the University of Akron.
Over the last 12 years, Graves has managed a group of synthetic chemists and chemical engineers in the product development department of Firestone Polymers L.L.C., where he serves as division manager of product development.
``Under his guidance, several new synthetic rubbers have been commercialized, and processes for producing elastomeric productions have been steadily improved,'' the IISRP said.