Stanley Donald Stookey graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and mathematics in 1936. He went on to earn his master’s in chemistry from Lafayette College and his doctorate in physical chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Stookey went to work for Corning Glass Works in 1940, performing research on glass and ceramics that led to several inventions. He had more than 60 patents to his credit and received numerous awards over the years for his inventions and contributions to the development of ceramics, eyeglasses, sunglasses, cookware, defense systems and electronics.
Stookey accidentally created the first glass ceramic, Fotoceram, which was later known as Pyroceram and eventually led to the development in CorningWare, a durable cookware able to withstand extreme heat and cold. By 1958, Corning was selling CorningWare dishes as fast as they could be produced. Just one of Stookey’s multi-million dollar inventions, CorningWare influenced the development of the transparent cookware VisionWare, which was patented by Corning in 1966.
Pyroceramic glass is used today by the military for the nose cones of supersonic radar domes in guided missiles and is the basis for Gorilla Glass used in iPhones and other LCD screens. Stookey also developed photochromic glass used to make ophthalmic lenses that darken and fade with light conditions. He also invented photosensitive glass using gold in which permanent colored photographs can be produced.
Stookey retired from Corning in 1987 after a career of 47 years. He received Coe’s Alumni Award of Merit in 1955, an honorary doctor of science degree in 1963, and the Founders’ Medal in 1980. In 1986, he received the National Medal of Technology from President Ronald Reagan and he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2010. His autobiography, “Explorations in Glass,” was published in 2000.