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Tickle researchers
John Tickle, in orange and blue tie at center, stands with representatives of UT, ORNL, ACMA and IACMI during a recent visit to UT.

One of the critical elements for the success of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, or IACMI, announced by President Barack Obama in January, is collaborating with some of the leading institutes, research centers, and companies around the world.

Led by UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the group has built a number of relationships and recently welcomed one such partner, the American Composites Manufacturers Association, or ACMA, to campus.

ACMA leadership got to learn firsthand about advanced manufacturing taking place at UT and ORNL. They also got to visit with one of their former leaders.

John D. Tickle—a longtime supporter of UT and a member of the College of Engineering‘s board of advisors—is past chairman of ACMA, and was on hand to meet IACMI and ACMA members.

ACMA recently honored Tickle for his fifty years of service to advanced composites manufacturing, in addition to previously having awarded him the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2009 Chairman Award.

“John Tickle has had an incredible influence on ACMA,” said Jay Merrell, current chair of the ACMA board and Vice President of Norplex-Micarta. “Many of his efforts and ideas are still in place in our organization today. He has also been an important driver in the development of the composites industry throughout his fifty years.”

Strongwell, the company Tickle bought in 1972 when it was known as the Morrison Molded Fiber Glass Company, is a resource member of the IACMI consortium.

According to Cliff Eberle, ORNL expert in carbon fiber and composites, Strongwell’s pultrusion expertise and equipment are part of the support they are providing IACMI.

“John’s involvement in IACMI shows his ongoing commitment to driving innovation in our industry,” said Merrell. “We look forward to John continuing to help guide ACMA and the composites industry with his insight and good counsel.”

Tickle’s visit also gave IACMI a chance to thank him for his service.

“It was special to recognize John Tickle and Strongwell Corporation this way,” said Taylor Eighmy, UT’s vice chancellor for research and engagement. “John is a national leader in the composites industry and has served ACMA.

“It was great to meet with ACMA, introduce them further to IACMI, and have a chance for all of us to recognize John’s contributions and celebrate Strongwell’s leadership in pultrusion. They will be a key partner for us in IACMI.”

The visit also showed the importance of composites research and the strength of the UT-ORNL partnership.

Since UT joined with Battelle Memorial Institute to jointly manage ORNL in 2000, the two institutions have forged ahead with some of the leading composites-related research in the country.

In addition to IACMI, the partnership has led to the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials, the Nonwovens Research Laboratory, Manufacturing Demonstration Facility, and the Governor’s Chairs Program and sharing of joint faculty.

Research areas including low cost carbon fiber, pultruded composites, modeling of materials and the recycling and characterization of reinforced plastics, polymers and fibers—all of which are important to IACMI and ACMA—have also taken great leaps forward under the partnership.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,