Dayton continues to encourage and support STEM with resources like the Dayton Regional STEM Center. But previously, it was Dayton’s Central High School. There, some of the most brilliant young minds crossed paths during the 19th century. Among them were Dunbar, Orville Wright and William Anderson “Bud” Burns.
After completing his education at Central High, Burns began studying medicine in 1893 under the direction of Dr. J.C. Reeve in Dayton, the first vice-president and one of the initial organizers of the American Gynecological Society. Burns later went on to Cleveland, where he studied medicine at Western Reserve University before returning to Dayton in 1898 as the city’s first Black doctor.
The incredibly bright chemist and innovator James A. Parsons Jr. — who is credited for inventing the Durimet 20 stainless steel alloy, a corrosion-resistant alloy still used today in a wide range of industrial processes — started out right here in Dayton.
Now known as one of the nation’s leading metallurgists, Parsons began his career at Duriron, a Dayton manufacturer of pumps and valves for chemical processes. After earning a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 1922, he began working for Duriron full-time as an analytical chemist.
In 1929, Parsons received the first of eight patents involving the development and application of non-corrosive metals and began developing the steel formulation known as Durimet 20. This alloy became the basis for a family of stainless-steel alloys used extensively in all industries involving the handling of corrosives. Even now, present-day Flowserve (one of TriComB2B’s clients), is still reiterating many of Parsons’ original patents and developments under its Durco® brand.
After his success, Parsons soon rose to be a chief metallurgist and laboratory manager, creating opportunities for Blacks and minorities in Duriron’s laboratories.
Parsons later spent his retirement dedicated to STEM education. He organized the metallurgy program at Tennessee A&I State University (now Tennessee State University), a historically Black college and university (HBCU).