Prof Allan Matthews, a previous head of the department of Materials Science and Engineering at Sheffield, gave a public oration highlighting her many achievements and Prof John Parker, secretary of the ICG CTC, was the Deputy Marshal assisting with the ceremony.She was accompanied by her husband, daughter and grandson.
Her career began with a first degree in Chemistry at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. She spent a summer working at the major glass producer Şişecam, where, she says, she ‘admired the capabilities of this excellent material’. Subsequently they gave her the opportunity to study in the then Department of Glass Technology at Sheffield University then headed by Prof Ron Douglas (ICG President 1972-75). There she undertook a Masters project under the guidance of Prof Amal Paul but also met up with other ICG personalities such as Prof Harold Rawson (CTC Chair 1982-87). Ultimately she was to follow in the footsteps of both Profs Rawson and Douglas, the former as chair of CTC (1992-97), and the latter as president of ICG (2003-06).
After this period of study, she returned to Şişecam. Under her leadership, their research and development flourished, enabling their scientists to focus on glass technology, energy conservation and environmental concerns. She progressed rapidly through the organisation, becoming Chief Executive of the Glassware (Tableware) Group in 1994 and Chief Executive of the Flat Glass Group in 1997. She is currently a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
In 1999, she received the Phoenix Award, given annually to the person who has made significant contributions to the international glass industry; she remains the only woman to have achieved this accolade.
The Commission’s Treasurer, Professor Alicia Durán, relates how Dr Alev Yaraman dedicated a large part of her professional life to transform the ICG, saying, “she has conferred her identity to its management: professionalism, rigour, hard work and respect for those who work with and love glass.” Her enthusiasm and drive reminded Professor Durán of a quotation from the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving…we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
Mrs Yaraman’s successor as President of the ICG was Professor Helmut Schaeffer and he endorsed her successful nomination for the ICG’s President’s Award in 2007. He said, “It is a special honour for the ICG to attract such persons as Alev Yaraman who dedicate voluntarily their time for promoting the advancement of glass science and technology besides their demanding professional affiliations. She is an outstanding ambassador for the cause of the ICG – she convinces by means of her great enthusiasm and thus inspires the willingness for collaboration.”
Those who receive honorary degrees at Sheffield are expected to reply and Dr Yaraman did this with great aplomb. Her positive comments on the University and her words of encouragement to those engineering students and their parents attending the degree congregation were very well received.