These alumni are recognized for their inventions.


Gerald Spessard

Gerald Spessard (M.S. dairy science 1974) designed GameFace, a facial mask that protects children playing baseball and softball. The product was featured on “ESPN Tomorrow” and in Baseball America.

James H. Crumley

James H. Crumley (distributive education 1969; M.S. education, basic studies 1975) has been hailed as the founding father of camouflage -- the bark and leaf pattern -- clothing for hunters.

Bruce Vorhauer

Bruce Vorhauer (engineering mechanics 1964) invented the contraceptive sponge, now marketed as the Today Contraceptive Sponge.

Charles O. Gordon

Charles O. Gordon (industrial engineering 1942) was co-owner of Tri-City Beverage Co. in Johnson City, Tenn., which bottled the first Mountain Dew around 1950. He developed and marketed Dr. Enuf, a vitamin-laced soft drink. He was also the mayor of Johnson City.

Benjamin A. Rubin

Benjamin A. Rubin (M.S. biology 1938) invented the bifurcated vaccination needle to deliver tiny amounts of smallpox vaccine. The needle is credited with helping to eradicate smallpox. Rubin created the needle from a sewing machine needle.

Robert M. Thomas

Robert M. Thomas (chemistry 1929) was the co-inventor of butyl rubber, a synthetic that became famous during World War II. He was awarded the Charles Goodyear Medal by the American Chemical Society’s Division of Rubber Chemists for his co-invention. Thomas is credited with 73 patents.

Edward H. Cahill

Edward H. Cahill (engineering mechanics 1909) designed in 1915 the first mapping camera ever used from an airplane in America, becoming a pioneer in the design of uniquely American instruments for photogrammetic mapping. He was a vice president of Brock and Weymouth in Philadelphia, and his designs, which were developed by Norman and Arthus Brock, became known as the Brock Process of aerial mapping. His work was placed in the archives of the Smithsonian Institution, the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and the International Society of Photogrammetry in Enschede, Netherlands. (Did not graduate.)

William E. Wine

William E. Wine (mechanical engineering 1904; M.E. 1905) perfected and patented numerous labor-saving devices for railroad work while employed by the Atlantic Coast Line Railway. Later, he became manager of Wine Railway Appliance Co. He was the first alumnus to serve as rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors. The university’s William E. Wine Award for faculty achievement is named for him.