Ray C. Anderson Foundation Awards Tech More Than $100,000

This week, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation, created to honor the Tech alumnus and sustainability leader who passed away in 2011, awarded the Institute two research grants, totaling more than $100,000, for sustainability-related work.

A grant of $43,700 was jointly awarded to Michael Chang in the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and Mary Hallisey-Hunt in the Strategic Energy Institute. Their program, Vertical Integration of Research and Technical, Undergraduate and Graduate Education for Sustainability (VIRTUES), will facilitate collaboration between Georgia universities and manufacturing companies seeking their graduates. The goal is to create a more sustainability-conscious Georgia workforce.

A second grant of $60,000 went to Yulin Deng’s project in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering: “Green Polyurethanes from 100 Percent Sustainable Natural Materials through Non-isocyanate Reactions.” Deng’s project includes efforts to synthesize polyurethanes using natural materials instead of petroleum; a practice that can be applied in a number of industries.

Anderson, a 1956 graduate with a degree in industrial and systems engineering, was founder and chairman of Interface, which produced the first free-lay carpet tiles in America. He established the company’s vision of “Mission Zero,” with a goal of countering any negative environmental impact by redesigning processes and products, pioneering new technologies, reducing or eliminating waste and harmful emissions and increasing the use of renewable materials and energy.

“The best way to honor him in our first funding cycle was to identify a few great projects that have the potential to infuse educational research findings directly into sustainable and innovative manufacturing processes,” said Mary Anne Lanier, daughter of Anderson and foundation trustee.

Anderson earned an honorary doctorate from Tech in 2011 for his work to secure a greener world for future generations and his championing of the business case for sustainability. For more than five decades, Anderson was a loyal and devoted supporter of his alma mater. He served as chair and vice chair of the Georgia Tech Advisory Board and was named an emeritus member of the Industrial and Systems Engineering Advisory Board. Anderson also served on the Georgia Tech Foundation Board of Trustees, the Capital Campaign Executive Committee and his 40th and 50th class reunion committees. In partnership with Interface, Anderson established the Anderson-Interface Chair in Natural Systems at Georgia Tech.

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Kristen Bailey
Institute Communications