Forging Allies

Purdue can claim a leading role in opening the door to technology transfer with China, after beginning an exchange of superalloy technology long before the country’s economic and technological boom.
The partnership began in 1980, when John Radavich, then professor of materials engineering, met two professors from China’s Beijing University of Science and Technology. The Chinese professors were interested in building up their technology and expertise in the field of superalloys—alloys that are very strong and resistant to high temperatures, corrosion and oxidation, with primary applications in the aerospace and power industries.

In 1984, Radavich was invited to China to teach the use of electron microscopes and to lecture on superalloys. During his five-week stay, he met a group of engineers who were interested in coming to the United States to attend seminars on superalloys. The problem was that they did not have enough funding.

Upon his return to the U.S., Radavich contacted companies in the superalloy field and arranged funding for the scholars. He then suggested a symposium in China, which took place in 1985. Since then, there have been 11 symposiums on high temperature materials, each growing larger; the last two drew over 300 scholars.

Radavich considers himself a “door-opener” between American and Chinese companies. The Sino-American symposiums have been attended by such companies as General Electric, Pratt and Whitney, and Rolls-Royce.

“Purdue and I were there before China bloomed into its terrific technology,” says Radavich, who retired from Purdue in 1995 and is now the president of Micro-Met Laboratories, Inc. “Purdue has been a leader in getting the people in this country to work with people in China. Purdue and I are proud of the part we played in the growth of superalloy technology.”

-Joseph Fowler