Proceedings of the 10th Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 28-30, 1979. Shaw CT, ed., Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1979 Aug; :225-228
It is with great pleasure that I am about to perform the task that has been entrusted to me. That is to present the Professional Award for Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research to Dr. Robert W. Van Dolah. Many of you need no introduction to Dr. Robert Van Dolah. But for those who do, I would like to take a few minutes to review a long and distinguished career, dedicated largely to promoting safety in industry, especially the coal mining industry. Upon graduations from Whitman College and Ohio State University, Dr. Van Dolah spent most of his career in the service of the U. S. Government. Following almost 10 years of explosives and propellant research for the Navy, in 1954, Bob joined the Bureau of Mines to head up the Pittsburgh Explosives Research Center. Bob's early years in Pittsburgh were marked by a rapidly expanding program of theoretical and experimental research in the Bureau's traditional areas of mine fire and explosion prevention, and especially the development of safer mining explosives and blasting practices. Also under his direction, a number of investigations were run in the safety aspects of various problems relating to aircraft, rocketry, atomic energy and space flights. The passage of the Coal Mine Health and Safety A ct of 1969 brought far-reaching changes in the Bureau's R. and D. effort, producing for the first time statutory funding for coal mine health and safety research, and introducing into the Bureau's activities a substantial contractual effort. To Bob Van Dolah, as director of the newly-created Pittsburgh Mining and Safety Research Center, it brought increased challenges. Many of you have personal knowledge of how well these challenges were met over the next eight years until he retired in March of 1978. Major accomplishments during that period included mine-wide monitoring and communication systems, whole-face illumination in coal mines, better underground electrical systems, human factors engineering and mining equipment, a new approach to rescue and survival, as well as on-going research into mine fires and explosions, mine dust, mine roof-falls and mining explosives. In addition to his administrative duties, Bob has served on a number of National Fire Protection Association standing committees. For many years he represented the U. S. as a member of the international group of Directors of Safety in Mines Research Establishments. He has also participated in numerous special investigations of major accidents, like the Sunshine Mine fire in 1967. Bob was one of the group to receive the NASA Achievement Award for investigation of the tragic spacecraft fire in the Kennedy Space Center. Other honors to Bob have included the Army's Certificate of Achievement, the NFPA Distinguished Service A ward, the Department of the Interior's Distinguished Service A ward, the Nitro Nobel Gold Medal and the American Chemical Society's Henry H. Storch Award. Tonight it is our privilege to add one more award to this already impressive list. Bob, as an old friend and co-worker, it is a very real pleasure to present you with the Professional A ward for Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research in recognition of your many valuable contributions to the safety and working environment of the American miner.
Proceedings of the 10th Annual Institute on Coal Mining Health, Safety and Research, Blacksburg, Virginia, August 28-30, 1979