Remembering Alum and Regents' Professor Emeritus, Clyde Orr, Jr., PhD ChE '52

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Summary Sentence:

Clyde Orr, Jr., PhD ChE '52, chairman of the board of Micromeritics Instrument Corporation, passed away on September 15, 2010, at the age of 88.

Full Summary:

Clyde Orr, Jr., PhD ChE '52, chairman of the board of Micromeritics Instrument Corporation, passed away on September 15, 2010, at the age of 88. He died from complications of blood clots at St. Joseph's Hospital. Since cofounding Micromeritics with Warren P. Hendrix in 1962, Dr. Orr was instrumental in guiding the company to its industry leadership role as a developer of instrumentation for the physical characterization of materials. A highly respected scientist who made many contributions to the fields of materials science and particle technology, Dr. Orr was involved in designing instrumentation and providing a constant stream of new ideas and analytical instruments.

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Clyde Orr, Jr., PhD ChE '52, chairman of the board of Micromeritics Instrument Corporation, passed away on September 15, 2010, at the age of 88. He died from complications of blood clots at St. Joseph's Hospital.

Since cofounding Micromeritics with Warren P. Hendrix in 1962, Dr. Orr was instrumental in guiding the company to its industry leadership role as a developer of instrumentation for the physical characterization of materials. A highly respected scientist who made many contributions to the fields of materials science and particle technology, Dr. Orr was involved in designing instrumentation and providing a constant stream of new ideas and analytical instruments. 

After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Dr. Orr earned his master’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Tennessee in 1948, and entered Georgia Institute of Technology's Ph.D. program for chemical engineers. His advisor, Joseph DallaValle, had earned a reputation as an expert in particulate matter, having authored one of the definitive works on the subject, Micromeritics: the Technology of Fine Particles. Upon completing the doctoral program in 1952, Dr. Orr was hired as an assistant research professor and remained a faculty member for thirty years. During his tenure at Georgia Tech, he was named a Regents’ Professor and was awarded the status of emeritus professor upon his retirement in the early 1980s.
 
In 1958, Dr. Orr and a member of his research team, Warren Hendrix, began designing a new gas adsorption analyzer that would improve on the system currently used in the Georgia Tech Micromeritics Laboratory. They invented a better way to measure the total area of the tiny surfaces on things like particles of flour and beads of plastic. Their device used a metal case and gauges instead of a blown-glass container and mercury-filled tubes. The fall 1999 edition of Georgia Tech’s Research Horizon’s Magazine listed their research project among the most significant Georgia Tech contributions of the 20th Century.

Dr. Orr’s and Mr. Hendrix’s research efforts eventually led to a patented instrument that became the basis for starting Micromeritics Instrument Corporation. Manufacturing started in Mr. Hendrix’s basement, and then moved into his garage, and finally to the Norcross plant, near Jimmy Carter Boulevard. At the time, the county had no other high-tech outfit. Micrometics is credited with starting Gwinnett County's high-tech industry boom.

Today, the company’s headquarters sits off Beaver Ruin Road, a local employer of about 200. The privately-held company’s annual sales top $50 million and it operates global offices in Germany, France, Italy, Japan, China, and the UK. Micromeritics was the first company to market commercially automated instrumentation for surface area and porosimetry by gas sorption, mercury intrusion porosimetry, volume and density by gas displacement, chemisorption analyses, and x-ray sedimentation particle size. The company holds numerous patents in these combined areas of particle characterization.
 
Dr. Orr published 62 works in 89 publications in 5 languages. One of his several books, Particulate Technology (1966), became a definitive work in the area of particle technology. The reference section of modern text books and research papers on particle technology lists Clyde Orr as one of the pioneers whose research was built upon in the development of the current work.

In 1995, Dr. Orr was inducted into the Georgia Tech College of Engineering’s Hall of Fame during the second year the honor was available. Those who knew Dr. Orr best say that he was an inquisitive, yet humble, man who asked that his family keep quite when he was tapped for this honor.

Dr. Orr continued to work daily as company board chairman of Micromeritics.

When reflecting on the business relationship between his father and Mr. Hendrix, Dr. Orr’s son, Donald Orr, said, “It was a remarkable combination of two men. Neither would have done it without the other, but together they did.”

Dr. Orr's daughter, Jeanne Thomas serves as executive vice president of Micromeritics. A grandson, Danny Strickland, is a project engineer, and a son-in-law, Bob Strickland, is an IT contract manager. Other survivors include another son, Douglas Orr, another daughter, Lynne Strickland, and four grandchildren. Dr. Orr was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Gardner Orr.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

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Alumni
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Keywords
chemical & biomolecular engineering, chemical engineering, Clyde Orr, engineering hall of fame, Micromeritics Instrument Corporation, Regents' Professor
Status
  • Created By: Josie Giles
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: Oct 13, 2010 - 12:53pm
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:07pm