William T. Beale (1928 – 2016)
William Beale was a mechanical engineering professor at Ohio University with a distinguished career in the development and manufacturing of new engine and power generation systems. Beale was a man of ideas and actions whose mind never stopped looking for ways to improve the world even to the end.
Beale served on the faculty of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University from 1960 to 1974. In 1964, he created a new form of Stirling engine known as the Free-Piston Stirling Engine, which featured significant improvements in performance and simplicity.
He obtained a patent in 1971 and left the university in 1974 to found a start-up company, Sunpower, Inc., in Athens, Ohio. Over the years, Beale has received 26 patents for his work, and his company spun off two additional Athens technology firms, Stirling Technology, Inc. and Global Cooling, Inc. Sunpower recently was purchased and now is operated by Ametek, Inc.
"William Beale is a pioneer in creating an important new technology at Ohio University and translating it into products to benefit society. The persistence he demonstrated as an entrepreneur is an inspiration to current students and faculty who want to make a difference through innovation," said Joseph Shields, the vice president for research and creative activity and dean of the Graduate College at Ohio University.
Beale continues to work on new technologies. During his last years at Sunpower, he invented a new approach to a continuously variable transmission, upon which a second company, Beale Innovations, Inc., was founded. This technology is still in development, but has potential for improving the efficiency of cars, bicycles and motor-driven industrial equipment such as blowers and pumps.