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Moon landing helped launch Alfred University glass science program to new heights

Alfred University | 7/18/19

Moon glass from the Apollo 12 mission studied at Alfred University's glass science department.
Moon glass from the Apollo 12 mission studied at Alfred University's glass science department.

Fifty years ago this Saturday, July 20, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first persons to walk on the moon. The landmark anniversary of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 lunar landing also marks a time when Alfred University’s now world-acclaimed glass science program was launched to new heights.


ALFRED, NY – Fifty years ago this Saturday, July 20, American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin became the first persons to walk on the moon. The landmark anniversary of the July 20, 1969, Apollo 11 lunar landing also marks a time when Alfred University’s now world-acclaimed glass science program was launched to new heights.

Emeriti professors L. David Pye and Harrie Stevens were new to the glass science faculty at Alfred University when America’s space exploration program was preparing to make good on President John F. Kennedy’s promise to land a man on the moon and return him safely to earth. Current professor William LaCourse would join the faculty year later.

Pye, Stevens and LaCourse recently wrote a retrospective piece in which the authors look back at the Apollo 11 mission, a time they have come to view as veritable renaissance in the glass programs at Alfred University.

The three, renowned in their field as educators and researchers, helped lead a resurgence in the glass program at Alfred in the late 1960s early 1970s, which coincided with NASA’s Apollo program. Scientists at Alfred were able to study lunar glass brought back from the moon during the Apollo 12 mission in fall of 1969, and their findings placed the University in the spotlight of the global scientific community. A half-century later, Alfred University is home to one of the preeminent glass science and engineering programs in the world.