September 20, 2008

Alcoa Engineer, CMU Prof Share Nobel Credit

By Joe Napsha

A Pittsburgh professor and an Alcoa Inc. engineer have shared in a rare honor -- winning a small piece of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Alcoa chemical engineer Kenneth Martchek and Carnegie Mellon University professor Edward Rubin were honored by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for their contributions on man-made climate change issues. They are among hundreds of scientists over some 20 years who have created a body of work that the Norwegian Nobel Committee deemed significant enough that the panel was awarded a share of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

"This is quite an accomplishment," said Martchek, 57, of Wexford, Alcoa's manager for environment and sustainability.

Martchek was part of a four-member Alcoa team that researched and wrote a report in 2005 on methods of accurately measuring and recording emissions from aluminum-making smelters.

"It was a nice shared honor. Basically, there were a lot of smiles around the world" when the climate change panel was announced as the Nobel prize winner in October, said Rubin, a Carnegie Mellon University professor of environmental engineering and science. Rubin of Squirrel Hill was honored as the lead author and contributing author on a 2005 special climate change panel report on capturing and storing carbon emissions.

The Nobel committee honored the United Nations panel and former Vice President Al Gore for their efforts to build awareness about man-made climate change and for laying the foundation for measures needed to counteract such a change.

"I was quite pleased the (climate change) panel was acknowledged for the effort -- it was well-deserved," said Rubin, who has been teaching engineering at the university for 39 years.

Rubin was the first Carnegie Mellon faculty member to share in the Nobel Peace Prize, CMU said. The university is home to 16 Nobel Laureates in five of the six categories.

While Martchek and Rubin were honored for their contributions to the United Nations panel's body of work, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, a Uniontown native, was honored individually in 1953 for what became known as the Marshall Plan, the ambitious U.S.-led effort to rebuild Europe following the widespread devastation of World War II.

When the award was announced, Rubin was caught off-guard by a colleague's e-mail congratulating him on being a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"I had no idea what he was talking about, until I did a little research," Rubin said.

Martchek, who works at Alcoa's Corporate Center on Pittsburgh's North Shore, said he learned last fall of the award. There were no parties or celebrations.

Martchek and the other members of the Alcoa team -- Vince Von Son, commercial manager for sustainable solutions, located in Alcoa, Tenn.; Mauricio Born, health, safety and environment manager for Alcoa in Latin America, and Hezio Oliveira, environment superintendent for Alcoa's aluminum consortium, both based in Brazil -- were sent certificates in April that acknowledged their contributions to the Nobel Peace Prize. Rubin received one as well.

"The credit for this prestigious award goes to you and other colleagues who have contributed so admirably to the work of the IPCC," panel Chairman R.K. Pachauri said in a letter to the recipients.

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