Mike Blair, Solvay Composite Materials Executive Vice President, shares his accomplishments and his vision for the future.




What is your professional background?

I graduated in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah. I started my career at Morton-Thiokol which was the builder of the Space Shuttle Challenger's powder engines. There, I started by leading the Mechanical Properties Laboratory before moving on to research and development. I then worked on a project for a composite tank of compressed natural gas, which was finally patented. When Morton-Thiokol was bought by ATK, I mainly worked on the commercial and strategic development of composite structures. I left ATK for the presidency of Exelis Aerostructures Division. Exelis was acquired by Harris, an electronics company. Aerostructures finally merged with Albany. After overseeing the merger, I left Albany to join Solvay.


What was your first impression when you joined Solvay ?

I was pleasantly surprised by the large number of brilliant minds among the collaborators, totally involved in their work. I am also impressed by Solvay's progress in technologies that play a key role in the industrialization of composites.


What interests you in  composite materials?

The possibility of modifying the properties according to the needs. For example, if you need a stiffer airplane wing, you can add fiber, but only where it's needed. By contributing to optimization and lightning, composite materials are not only an economic asset, but also an ecological one.


How do you dream about Solvay's future?

I dream that Solvay will become a vertically integrated composite materials manufacturer, leader in the markets it serves, and that the structures for the oil and gas industry, as well as for aviation and automotive, are mostly composed of our materials.