Steven Burdette’s Quest for Knowledge

Steven Burdette’s Quest for Knowledge

Engineering Fellow Steven Burdette was once told by his mentor, Engineering Fellow Dr. Bob Thomas, about the importance of discovery in glassmaking and how it is vital to the progress of Corning’s mission. Since that day 26 years ago, Steve has used that advice as a totem for his technical work in the Manufacturing, Technology & Engineering (MT&E) division and as a subject matter expert in mathematical modeling, glass forming, heat transfer, and stress and strength analysis. 

Steve is part of the Thermal Processing Engineering group, where he provides technical guidance and detailed technical analysis with an emphasis on engineering fundamentals and modeling. He spends a significant amount of his time running numerical simulations, working in the lab on experiments, consulting with colleagues, visiting plants, and authoring reports. 

“Corning is a very special company to work for because its business strategy is based on having unique and superior technology, most of which is developed inside the company,” he said. “Sometimes we get to invent processes  or products that are new and change the world in some way. That potential makes Corning a great company for a meaningful and rewarding technical career.” 

Steve has played a hand in enabling some of Corning’s technological breakthroughs. He contributed to the development of a system that controls both the speed and tension of a glass sheet throughout the fusion forming process, a revolutionary glass technique that enables a full suite of high-performing flat glasses. 

“We had been working on the thermal and mechanical fundamentals of cooling glass ribbons for many years, and it was especially gratifying to be able to use those fundamentals to generate technology of great economic importance,” he said. 

What contributes to Steve’s success in the workplace is his recognition of balance, a trait that his advisor taught him in graduate school at the University of Wisconsin. “I was interested in the science that underlies production processes,” he said. “I remember that my advisor would emphasize engaging in broad work across many disciplines; this advice became very valuable later in my career at Corning.” 

“I was also taught about the importance of establishing a healthy work-life balance. This has been the key for me to remain productive and happy over a lengthy career.” 

"At Corning we get to invent processes or products that are new and change the world in some way. That potential makes Corning a great company for a meaningful and rewarding technical career."

Outside of his busy schedule, Steve enjoys keeping active by riding his bike in the spring, summer, and fall, and in the winter, he hits the mountains to ski. “My wife considers me a fanatic of both,” Steve said. “Both give me the opportunity to clear my head and reflect, and needless to say, both give me a good workout.”

He also spends a lot of his time with his wife and two children, whom he considers his “greatest accomplishment,” and he is grateful for their continued support and contributions to his individual well-being.

Steve remains motivated by his continual quest for knowledge and by sharing what he knows with the next generation of engineers. He mentors many of Corning’s younger engineers, which is an experience that has provided immense value to Steve and the future of the company’s innovation processes. The greatest asset that he shares with others is the past, which he calls the foundation of discovery.

“At Corning, there’s great value in learning from the projects of the past, regardless of whether they succeeded or failed,” he said. “The past has become a part of the foundation for what we do at this company and the goals we have set for the future. Likewise, as an individual, it is crucial to continue reading reports and talking with people to learn what has been done already and to find out who can help you make the next life-changing discovery. Never be afraid to ask a question and keep searching for the truth.”