Photo Caption: William Beale stands next to his electric car.
Athens entrepreneur William Beale, a former Ohio University mechanical engineering faculty member with a distinguished career in the development and manufacturing of new engine and power generation systems, has been named the recipient of the 2013 Konneker Medal for Commercialization and Entrepreneurship, according to a news release from OU.
The Ohio University Foundation established the Konneker Medal to recognize current and former faculty members or students who have demonstrated excellence in innovation, invention, commercialization and entrepreneurship. The award is named for Wilfred Konneker, an OU alumnus renowned for his contributions to these fields.
Beale served on the faculty of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at OU from 1960 to 1974. In 1964, he created a new form of Stirling engine known as the Free-Piston Stirling Engine, which featured significant improvements in performance and simplicity.
He obtained a patent in 1971 and left the university in 1974 to found a start-up company, Sunpower, Inc., in Athens. Over the years, Beale has received 26 patents for his work, and his company spun off two additional Athens technology firms, Stirling Technology, Inc. and Global Cooling, Inc. Sunpower recently was purchased and now is operated by Ametek, Inc.
"William Beale is a pioneer in creating an important new technology at Ohio University and translating it into products to benefit society," Joseph Shields, vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the Graduate College at OU, said in the release. "The persistence he demonstrated as an entrepreneur is an inspiration to current students and faculty who want to make a difference through innovation."
Beale continues to work on new technologies. During his last years at Sunpower, he invented a new approach to a continuously variable transmission, upon which a second company, Beale Innovations, Inc., was founded. This technology is still in development, but has potential for improving the efficiency of cars, bicycles and motor-driven industrial equipment such as blowers and pumps.
"People in my profession see not only a huge threat from global climate change but also an equal opportunity to do something creative to fix it," Beale said in the release. "My own work has been aimed to that goal, and it is wonderful to see such a big effort in the same direction by so many young, highly talented people right here in Athens.
OU will award the Konneker Medal to Beale at the Innovation Awards, 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 18 at the Baker Center Ballroom. For more information about the event and to register, visit www.gala.ohio.edu.