Celebrating a Milestone

Louis Schatz

Dr. Louis Schatz and one of SERC’s custom-built fuel cell golf carts.

This year the Schatz Energy Research Center is observing the 100th anniversary of the birth of Louis W. Schatz, our original benefactor and the lab’s namesake. Mr. Schatz was born January 20, 1912 in Pittsburgh, PA. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in forestry in 1934, going on to earn a master’s degree at UC Berkeley in 1939. He established General Plastics Manufacturing Company in Tacoma, WA in 1941, where he served as president and owner for many years. General Plastics technology has been used in the NASA space shuttle, in Navy submarines, and in most Boeing passenger jets.

Mr. Schatz was an early and enthusiastic advocate for hydrogen energy. A series of phone calls with SERC director Peter Lehman at HSU in the spring of 1989 led to their discovery of this shared interest and to Mr. Schatz’s initial financial contribution to fund the Schatz Solar Hydrogen Project in Trinidad, CA. The success of this project led to the establishment of a permanent Schatz Energy Research Center with additional support from Mr. Schatz.

Mr. Schatz was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by HSU in May 1994 in recognition of his support of SERC and other HSU programs, including the L.W. Schatz Demonstration Tree Farm. Penn State, where he sponsored fellowships and endowed the creation of a center dedicated to tree genetics research, also honored him with an achievement award and named him an alumni fellow.

Peter summed up the feelings of all of us.  “We’re extremely fortunate to have a benefactor like Mr. Schatz,” he said.  “His unwavering support, his trust in our work, and his enthusiastic cheerleading made the good work of SERC possible.”

Mr. Schatz passed away September 22, 2001 in Pauma Valley, CA at the age of 89. He left additional funds in his estate that continue to support SERC’s work to this day, including the construction of our new facility completed last year. In total, Mr. Schatz contributed some $12 million to support SERC and other programs at HSU. Please join us in remembering this important champion of clean energy technology.