Date: 1 June 2023
Julia Schimmelpenningh spends her days breaking glass to save lives.
Her work at Eastman protects people from injuries that could occur from car accidents, hurricanes, active shooter attacks and daily exposure to harmful UV rays.
“It gets you out of bed in the morning when you know you can help somebody like that,” she said.
Based in Springfield, Massachusetts, Schimmelpenningh is a technical engagement manager for Eastman Saflex™ and Vanceva™ colored PVB interlayers for laminated glass, which are used in the architectural and automotive industries.
Her three-person customer and application support lab team at Eastman’s Indian Orchard plant in Springfield focuses on testing glass safety. This involves breaking glass with Saflex and Vanceva interlayers and discovering new ways to make the glass safer.
Schimmelpenningh has translated her work into industry leadership, which enables her research to save lives not just through Eastman products but around the world.
Since 1992, she has been a member of ASTM International, a globally recognized organization that sets standards for testing, products, materials and operations systems. She has served on various ASTM committees and its board of directors.
She was honored in late 2022 with the International E. George Stern Award of Excellence, ASTM’s highest recognition, for her outstanding achievement and contributions to building safety. The award was especially significant to Schimmelpenningh because she personally knew the man for whom the award was named. In fact, he gave her the first assignment she completed at ASTM — writing a new building standard for glass handrails. Her work created a standard that prevents shattering or glass fallout in buildings with these handrails.
Additionally, in 2022, Schimmelpenningh served as the technical chair for the committee that developed and published the new ASTM standard on forced entry through an active shooter attack.
Schimmelpenningh’s commitment to research has roots in her time at Emmanuel College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry. Schimmelpenningh thought she would work in medical research but found safety more interesting during her early career. This transformed her job into a passion.
“I can’t imagine going into another industry today,” she said.
Schimmelpenningh began her career with Monsanto in 1989 in the Saflex business unit, which later became part of Solutia. She joined Eastman in 2012 when the company acquired Solutia.
Through the years, she has always been driven by a commitment to making the world safer.
“I have my marching orders for the products we put out there and what we want to talk about. But for me to have credibility in the industry, I have to understand the impact of our products,” she said. “You have to gain the trust of people in the industry, too, that you’re not just a product pusher. It’s for the good of the industry and the good of people.”