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Da Vinci Science Center Chairman Frank K. Schweighardt, Ph.D., was honored Thursday by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs baseball team with its Community Star Award for his work with the Center and tomorrow’s young inventors.
Schweighardt received the award on the field at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., before Thursday evening’s game. The IronPigs honor a Community Star each month from April-August. The award celebrates people who demonstrate leadership, compassion, dedication, and a commitment to make their community a better place.
It is hard to imagine anybody having a more unique Da Vinci Science Center career than Schweighardt, and few can claim one with greater impact. Shortly after retiring as Global Manager of Process Analytical from Air Products in Trexlertown, Pa., Schweighardt came to the Center in 2006 to volunteer as an exhibit floor guide.
An inventor with nearly 30 American and international patents, Schweighardt was recruited in the fall of 2007 to help the Center develop what is known now as its Inventor’s Lab Program, in which students explore the invention process through a variety of interactive activities and develop their own invention ideas with the help of active and retired scientists, engineers, and professionals. The program, which returns in Oct. 2013, has helped one young inventor earn a United States Patent and another student submit a United States Provisional Patent application.
Schweighardt’s retirement took a sharp turn in the summer of 2008 when Frank Steslow, then the Da Vinci Science Center’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, announced plans to assume a position with the Miami Science Museum. While the Center’s Board of Trustees began a national search immediately for a permanent successor, it also searched for an interim leader. Impressed by Schweighardt’s achievements as Global Manager of Process Analytical at Air Products and dedication to the Da Vinci Science Center’s mission, the board asked Schweighardt to suspend his retirement and lead the organization through its transition.
Schweighardt would serve as the Center’s Interim Executive Director from Aug. 2008-March 2009, earning praise for strengthening the Center’s business models, streamlining its operations, clarifying its core strategies, and coordinating the search for a new CEO. The organization’s board elected Schweighardt to a term as a Trustee shortly before the end of his tenure. Schweighardt was elected Vice Chairman in May 2009 before being elected Chairman a year later and re-elected Chairman on May 18, 2012.
Meanwhile, visitors still see Schweighardt often doing what he likes best, bringing science to life for visitors on the Center’s exhibit floor and wearing its volunteer vest proudly.
During his 27-year career with Air Products, Schweighardt established a new line of ultra-pure gases for use in laboratories. Schweighardt was also Chairman of the Board for the International Forum of Process Analytical Chemistry in 2003 and has been a member of several professional organizations. Schweighardt holds a doctorate in Molecular Biophysics and Physical Chemistry from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa., and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Seton Hall University, South Orange, N.J.