1999 Distinguished Service Award: Robert Beran

// Mechanical Engineering

Tags: alumni, Engineers' Day, ME E-Day, Robert Beran

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Robert Beran
Laboratory Director
Westvaco Corporation
Covington, VA
PhDME ’72, BSME ’67

Robert Beran, a native of Cumberland, Wisconsin, followed his brother Bill through mechanical engineering at UW-Madison. Bob Beran received his BS in 1967 and PhD in 1972.

Upon graduation, Beran joined Westvaco Corporation, a major producer of packaging, paper and specialty chemicals. During his 27-year career at Westvaco’s Covington Research Lab in Virginia, Westvaco recruited engineers from UW-Madison and sponsored UW research, including polymers and suspensions at the Rheology Research Center.

Beran is known for his pioneering development of a parameter characterizing physical support for papermaking fibers during their deposition onto forming fabrics. Fabric manufacturers employ his fiber support index as a standard in designing new fabric constructions and when matching fabric weaves to the customer’s fiber supply and papermaking application. For his contributions, Beran was awarded the Olmsted Award in 1978.

Most of Beran’s six patents at Westvaco relate to lateral containment of liquid slurry at the paper machine edges while suppressing wave generation to achieve enhanced paper web uniformity across the full width of paper machines. Beran is co-inventor of that innovation, now licensed to an Appleton, Wisconsin firm for international distribution.

Beran became Covington Laboratory Director in 1981. Westvaco research projects continue to bring industry recognition to laboratory engineers. The lab boasts eight Olmsted Award recipients to date, three originally hired from the UW-Madison College of Engineering.

Beran is married to UW-Superior alumnus Kathy Sorensen. They have a daughter, Molly, and a son, Bill. Beran finds time for family projects and community activities. Beran coached little-league soccer and was president of the Alleghany Soccer Association. As assistant scoutmaster, he taught “wilderness engineering” for the Pioneering merit badge. He serves his church as elder.

He enjoys outdoor activities of boating and fishing, and was a winner in a fly-casting contest at the 1998 West Virginia Water Festival in Hinton, West Virginia.