Photo of Francis Versnyder

Francis Versnyder

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Manufacturing

The development and application of directionally solidified and single crystal turbine components which improve fuel efficiencies and maintenance requirements for jet aircraft engines, both commercial and military, and which contribute to United States leadership in their production. These developments have saved commercial airlines alone hundreds of millions of dollars.

Francis Versnyder graduated Notre Dame University with a B.S. in metallurgy, and over the course of his career became one of the world’s most distinguished high-temperature metallurgists. His first job was with General Electric, working on problems of high-temperature metallurgy for early turbojet engines. According to a memorial tribute, Versnyder believed his future at GE was limited by his lack of a doctorate degree, and he left to accept an offer as head of alloy and materials development in a new research department at Pratt & Whitney, United Aircraft Corporation.

Working for Pratt & Whitney, Versynder invented directionally solidified and single crystal turbine components for jet aircraft engines. The materials he discovered provide greater durability and fuel savings in commercial aircraft, allowing for increased fuel efficiency, longer lifespan and greater maneuverability.

Versnyder’s work opened an entirely new field of applied high-temperature metallurgy, ushering in a new era of research and development that continues to be pursued today.

By Jen Santisi