John F. Hesselberth

For his contributions as a technical innovator and manager, the Purdue University Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering alumnus Award to John F. Hesselberth.

Director, Corporate Research and Development Planning Division
E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Company
BS '62, MS '64, Chemical Engineering


From his Purdue years to present

After completing his master`s degree, Dr. Hesselberth served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps before returning to graduate school, this time at the University of Cincinnati. He received his PhD in 1968, and joined Du Pont as a research engineer in the company's Textile Fibers Department. Over the years Dr. Hesselberth moved through successive research and development positions at Du Pont, becoming, in 1982, director of the firm's Pioneering Research Laboratory, where he managed 90 professional scientists and a support staff of over 150. In 1985 he was named technical director for the Carpet Fibers Division, and in 1988 was appointed to his current position. As director of Corporate Research and Development Planning, Dr. Hesselberth reports to Du Pont's corporate senior vice president for Technology, and oversees the planning and decision issues regarding the company's $1.3 billing research and development budget.

  • "At Purdue I think I reached to the point--sometime during the junior year to master's time period--where I could begin to learn things on my own," says Dr. Hesselberth, a West Lafayette native. "That's one of the aspects of my college education that I remember--there were several professors who helped me assemble all the numerous concepts so that all the parts made sense together.

  • "My fraternity experience [Alpha Sigma Phi] was also important. We had a small house, very education-oriented. It was important to me because I think it helped me set some academic goals and standards. It was good to be in that kind of social environment where education was highly emphasized."

His advice to the graduating engineer:

"Make sure you know the fundamentals, and learn to communicate the results of your work. If you can't effectively tell others what you're doing and what you've done, you're going to have problems out there."