AKRON (Dec. 2, 2009)—James L. White, the University of Akron Harold A. Morton professor of polymer engineering and winner of this year's Charles Goodyear Medal, died suddenly Nov. 26 in Germany. He was 71.
White had a more than 50-year career in the rubber and polymer science industry, mostly in academia, that included publication of more than 500 technical papers and eight books, including “Rubber Processing,” a work long depended on by engineers and scientists.
He studied chemical engineering at the Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute and then joined the research group of Professor A.B. Metzner at the University of Delaware, where he received his master's in 1962 and doctorate in 1965. There he and Metzner developed the White-Metzner rheological model, which is still widely used for polymer processing simulation.
White's early career included a four-year stint at U.S. Rubber—later Uniroyal—from 1963-67 as a research engineer and group leader, where he acquired his lifelong interest in rubber science and engineering.
He joined the University of Tennessee in 1967 as an associate professor and eventually became the originator and professor in charge of the school's Polymer and Engineering masters and doctorate program. While there, he founded the Journal of Polymer Engineering, serving as editor until 1984.
White moved to the University of Akron in 1983, where he founded the Institute and Department of Polymer Engineering, serving as both center director and department chair. At Akron, he focused on rubber processing and compounding, experimentally studying and simulating flow in internal mixers and pin barrel extruders as well as twin screw extruders with and without chemical reactions taking place in the latter process. The activities led to the first commercially successful Akro-Twin software to simulate flow in twin screw extrusion.
White also started the Polymer Processing Society in 1985 along with the group's journal, International Polymer Processing. He served as editor of the journal from 1986 to 2004.
In honoring White with its Charles Goodyear Medal this past spring, the ACS Rubber Division cited him for excelling in the “fundamental understanding of rheology and mathematical modeling of unfilled and filled rubbers and simulations of flow in batch and continuous mixing machines.”
The University of Akron will hold a memorial service for White at a later time.