James B. Bryan

James Bevan Bryan (1926-2015), a founding member of the American Society for Precision Engineering and paternal champion of deterministic thinking in production engineering and metrology, died on June 28 at the age of 89. He will be remembered throughout the world for his profound influence and diligence in applying determinism to systematically identify and minimize fundamental error sources in mechanical systems and metrology without resorting to concepts of randomness and chance variation.

Jim served in the US Merchant Marine from 1944-1950 as a licensed Second Assistant Engineer Steam Vessels, Any Horsepower, Any Ocean, and Third Assistant Engineer Diesel Vessels, Any Horsepower, Any Ocean. He was Honorably Discharged from the US Coast Guard in 1945 with battle ribbons for action in Iwo Jima and Okinawa, graduated with Honors from Alameda Maritime Academy in 1946, and graduated with a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of California, Berkeley in 1951. He worked at Westinghouse Electric Corporation from 1951-1955 as a Manufacturing Engineer and was licensed as a Registered Mechanical Engineer in the State of California in 1954.

Jim began working at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1955, under Nobel Laureate Ernest O. Lawrence. By the time he retired in 1986, he was chief of metrology (Group Leader of the Metrology Group). His contributions to precision engineering are not only seen in the diversity of organizations to which he contributed, but are better characterized by the awards he received from each organization:

  • 1977 SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal
  • 1979 California Society of Professional Engineers Archimedes Engineering Achievement Award
  • 1986 SME Charter Fellow
  • 1991 ASPE Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Honorary Memberships of ASPE (1991), euspen (2003), and CIRP (2004)
  • 1995 ASME Dedicated Service Award
  • 2000 euspen Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2008 ASME/SME M. Eugene Merchant Manufacturing Medal
  • 2009 CIRP General Pierre Nicolau Award
  • 2015 LLNL Entrepreneurs’ Hall of Fame

Jim was selected by Fortune Magazine in 2000 as one of their six “Heroes of US Manufacturing” and he received SME’s elite “Master of Manufacturing” accolade accompanied by an extended interview and cover photo in Manufacturing Engineering magazine in 2007. He is the inventor of the “Telescoping Magnetic Ball Bar Test Gage” (US Patent No. 4,435,905 licensed to Renishaw) and “Slow Tool Servo” (US Patent No. 7,089,835 B2 licensed to CDM Optics).

We are forever indebted to Jim for his enduring contributions and unwavering commitment to US and international standards as enablers of commerce. He impacted the careers and technology of all who work in precision engineering, production, and metrology.

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