Day 311/365 of Steel – John F. Fritz

The Father of U.S. Steel Industry

John F. Fritz (August 21, 1822 – February 13, 1913) was an American pioneer of iron and steel technology, who has been referred to as the “Father of the U.S. Steel Industry”.

John Fritz Medal (gold) awarded 1921 to Sir Robert Hadfield. Showing John Fritz
Fig 1: John Fritz Medal (gold) awarded 1921 to Sir Robert Hadfield. Showing John Fritz
Photo: Chemical Engineer

Fritz worked as a mechanic, working for the Norristown Iron Company, and in 1854 moved to the Cambria Iron Company, where he designed the first three-high rolling mill, a notable achievement. In 1860 he became General Superintendent and Chief Engineer of the Bethlehem Iron Works in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

He was responsible for installing a Bessemer Converter and various developments in the company, staying until 1892. Fritz was determined to learn all he could about the iron trade from the workers themselves.

Bessemer converter, photo taken at Kelham Island Museum, Sheffield by Gunnar Larsson.
Fig 2: Bessemer converter, photo taken at Kelham Island MuseumSheffield by Gunnar Larsson.

Constantly striving to improve every step in the process, he enthusiastically implemented new ideas. His innovative spirit and determination to surmount challenges drove the transformation of the Lehigh Valley into the first heavy industrial heartland of the nation.

The John Fritz Medal, referred to as the highest award in the engineering profession, is presented each year for scientific or industrial achievement in any field of pure or applied science. It was established in 1902 as a memorial to the great engineer whose name it bears.

Among the most notable winners are Thomas Edison, Lord Kelvin, Alexander Graham Bell, George Westinghouse, Orville Wright, Charles F. “Boss” Kettering, Claude Shannon, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. 

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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