Making History and Preserving It
ASTM D20 Member Rubin Kravitz Added to Syracuse University Plastics Tribute
Longtime ASTM International member Rubin Kravitz, Pharm.D., is currently president and CEO of Cadet Laboratories. This is the latest in a long line of Kravitz’s professional activities.
However, these days, Kravitz spends much of his time contributing his talents through community service near his home in Virginia Beach, Va. In addition to being a Mason and a Shriner, Kravitz has served as a chancellor commander of the Knight of Pythias. He also volunteers for the American Red Cross and serves as a zone captain for an annual beach cleanup project along the Chesapeake Bay.
Additionally, Kravitz finds time to play parade music, swing tunes and standards on his alto saxophone as a member of three different bands.
Kravitz was recently recognized by Syracuse University for his lifetime of achievement in the world of plastics. Kravitz’s work has encompassed both contributing to the history of plastics and preserving that history through a museum and research center.
Kravitz, a member and former vice chairman of ASTM Committee D20 on Plastics, is a chemist and engineer whose career began with service in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After receiving a degree in pharmacy from Northeastern University in 1952, Kravitz worked for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. However, Kravitz spent most of his career as a research chemist and senior development engineer at Foster Grant.
While at Foster Grant, Kravitz’s responsibilities included conducting tests to evaluate, improve and support expanded polystyrene product lines and supervising physical testing. One of the accomplishments of Kravitz’s years at Foster Grant was his invention of an impact testing machine that bears his name.
An interest in educating the public on the history of plastics development was the impetus for Kravitz’s important role in the 1976 founding of the National Plastics Center and Museum in Leominster, Mass. Kravitz served as the museum’s first and founding president.
While the museum closed in 2008, its collection forms the basis for the Syracuse University Plastics Collection, an online research center devoted to the study and understanding of plastics. According to its website, the Syracuse collection is the largest university-based resource on the history of plastics and “combines narratives about the people, materials and corporations responsible for our cultural embrace of plastic.”
Kravitz has now been added to the People section of the Plastics Collection, joining such figures as Earl S. Tupper, the innovative entrepreneur behind Tupperware; Nathaniel C. Wyeth, inventor of a wide range of plastic products and processes; and Leo Baekeland, the inventor of Bakelite plastic.
Kravitz focused his ASTM standards work on olefins, specimen preparation, nylon and plastic furniture. In addition to his ASTM activities, Kravitz has served as president of the Pioneer Valley Section of the Society of Plastics Engineers and is a member emeritus of the American Chemical Society.
Kravitz says that one of the things he appreciated most about his years as a D20 member was the willingness of other members to brainstorm solutions to industry issues during meetings. He notes that throughout his career, ASTM gave him the opportunity to both give and receive good advice while talking shop with his colleagues.
“I’ve really enjoyed being an ASTM member,” Kravitz says. “People have been very congenial. It’s a wonderful organization.”
This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.