Title: Director of Quality Assurance (Retired)
Company: Weil-McLain Division, United Dominion Industries
Location: Niles, Michigan, United States
Walter H. Hornberger Jr., Retired Director of Quality Assurance at the Weil-McLain Division of United Dominion Industries, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Engineers for dedication, achievements and leadership in metallurgical engineering.
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, an area populated by steel mills, Dr. Hornberger grew up thinking that in a field related to steel production and applications, there should be many job opportunities. At 16 years old, he decided that he wanted to pursue metallurgical engineering, not realizing that this field of endeavor ran in the family. While working as a blast furnace observer/technician at U.S. Steel’s South Works in 1962, he was advised by his father, “to look around, he might find evidence of his grandfather there.” His grandfather, Herman Alexander Brassert, had been superintendent of the blast furnaces in the early 1900s. He found his name emblazoned on the side of a piece of equipment used in blast furnaces operations. Dr. Hornberger was surprised that he was walking in his grandfather’s footsteps.
Working summer jobs while in high school and between colleges provided Dr. Hornberger with invaluable experiences in making, shaping and treating of steels. His first summer job in 1958 was at the Wisconsin Steel Works of International Harvester, laboring in the rolling mill and in the billet docks. The following year he would find him in a high alloy scrap yard, sampling and analyzing stainless steel scrap for chrome and nickel content so it could be sorted and accumulated for use by steel mills to produce specific alloy grades of steel. By the time he earned his degree Dr. Hornberger had gained more than two years of extensive experience working in four different steel mills or related industries. He had been a metallographic technician, tensile tester, chemical laboratory technician and a technical observer of numerous metallurgical processes.
Dr. Hornberger began college at the University of Illinois, Chicago Division at Navy Pier transferring to the University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana. He earned a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Grand Valley State University, a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Memphis, and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Memphis. Not long after, he became certified as a Registered Professional Engineer in Michigan. He continued his education thru correspondence courses, quality courses, continually learning and applying new technologies.
Before retiring in 2001, Dr. Hornberger led an accomplished career that spanned more than 40 years, beginning as a laborer in Chicago area steel mills and advancing to become the director of quality assurance at the Weil-McLain division of United Dominion Industries in 1993. Prior to this appointment, he served as a quality control manager at Wells Electronics from 1987 to 1993 and the Forged Products Division of the National Standard Company from 1980 to 1987. Between 1967 and 1974, he was plant metallurgist at National Standard Company.
An opportunity then arose in 1974 at Rockwell International’s Universal Drive Shaft Division, Allegan, Michigan. Dr. Hornberger became plant metallurgist/heat treat manager. The Corporation had charged plant management to increase the production capacity of the facility by 50 percent, this of course included the heat treating operations. It was an opportunity for Dr. Hornberger to apply his knowledge and expertise in metallurgical processes to rebuild and/or replace obsolete heat processing equipment and furnaces. He met and exceeded this challenge giving him much personnel satisfaction and is a highlight of his professional career.
As director of quality assurance at United Dominion Industries, Weil-McLain Division, Dr. Hornberger implemented the ISO 9000 “family of quality management systems,” a set of standards that assists companies in meeting the needs of customers and stakeholders in relation to product manufacturing and services.
Outside of his primary endeavors, Dr. Hornberger was active as chairman of the Notre Dame Chapter of the American Society of Metals International from 1978 to 1979, president of the board of directors for the NS Credit Union from 1980 to 1989 and president of the Blossomland Chapter of the Michigan Society of Professional Engineers and in 1985. He was granted the “Engineer of the Year Award” by the chapter. Dr. Hornberger presided over the Niles Optimist Club in 1978 and maintains a life membership. He became a Mason 1966 and is a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason, life member and a Saladin Shriner in Michigan.
Upon reflection of his life and career, the real accomplishments were really those of his teams, especially their support in getting the jobs done. Their commitment was essential. In retirement, Dr. Hornberger enjoys traveling, geneaology and spending time with family and friends. He and his wife, Georgia C. Bohmann, married in 1966, had three daughters and four grandchildren. All are excelling in their career paths.
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