Virginia Tech Dedicates Sculpture Honoring Four Leaders in Pallet Lab, Pallet Research
Sculpture Honors William Sardo, Dr. George Stern, Dr. Walter Wallin, Thomas DePew
Date Posted: 6/26/2002
Virginia Tech recently honored four men who were leaders in developing its pallet and container research laboratory and improving the performance of pallets. The university held a ceremony to dedicate an outdoor sculpture at the entrance to the Virginia Tech Forest Products Center, which houses the pallet and container research laboratory.
The sculpture, which depicts the Earth on a pallet, honors William H. Sardo Jr. along with Dr. George Stern, Dr. Walter Wallin and Thomas DePew; the latter three men are deceased. Their names are on a plaque at the site of the sculpture, which was paid for by private donations and installed last fall. The sculpture is a ‘living’ memorial; names of other pallet industry leaders will be added to it in the future in recognition of their achievements.
William Sardo is a past executive vice president of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association, and the Virginia Tech pallet lab bears his name. Thomas DePew was a past president of the association. They were instrumental in developing cooperative research between Virginia Tech, the U.S. Forest Service and the pallet manufacturing industry, and they led the effort to establish the Virginia Tech pallet lab.
Dr. Walter Wallin was a Forest Service researcher at the agency’s forestry sciences laboratory in West Virginia, and Dr. George Stern, the first director of the pallet laboratory in 1976, was a world-renowned professor of wood construction. They worked cooperatively and began the development of the Pallet Design System, a computer software program for designing wood pallets.
Virginia Tech's pallet and container research laboratory is the only laboratory in the world focusing exclusively on the structural design and performance of pallets. The programming goal of the lab is to improve materials handling efficiency, to improve the utilization of standing timber, and to improve the safety of the workplace. Because pallets are load-bearing structures, improperly designed pallets can cause injuries or death.
The gathering was welcomed by Dr. Marshall (‘Mark’) White, director of the pallet lab. Virginia Tech Provost Mark McNamee and College of Natural Resources Dean Greg Brown also gave remarks.
William Sardo also addressed the group gathered for the dedication. He discussed the contributions of each of the other men who were honored and also paid tribute to Mark White and Virginia Tech.
"In all my dealings and my business career, Virginia Tech personified a learning institution that was in the real world," Bill said, because its faculty prepared young people to face the challenges of the real world
Of Mark White, Bill said, "We are very fortunate to have him as the director of the laboratory. He has interested more people in the scientific aspects of palletization than anyone else in America."
The $85,000 stainless steel sculpture weighs 5 tons. Donna M. Phaneuf, AIA of VIA Design Architects made the presentation/concept drawing of the sculpture from which further studies and shop drawings were made by Globe Iron Construction of Norfolk, Va. Larry Reece of Globe Iron was instrumental in taking the concept drawings and making the sculpture a built-reality and constructible. Circle M Contracting ( Raymond Moore and Marty Schribel) actually made the sculpture. Funds for the design, construction, and installation of the sculpture were from private donations.
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