M.C. Gill: “The world of materials science has advanced tremendously since my early days.”
Composite Gift

M.C. Gill ’37 gives $7 million to the USC School of Engineering to endow the Merwyn C. Gill Foundation Composites Center.

A PASADENA INDUSTRIALIST who started a company in his garage 55 years ago to make composite wall panels is giving $7 million to support the School of Engineering’s Center for Composite Materials.
Merwyn C. Gill, chairman of the board of M.C. Gill Corp. and a 1937 graduate of USC, has pledged $5 million through the M.C. Gill Foundation to endow the composites center and will provide an additional $250,000 per year for eight years for operating support. The center will be renamed the Merwyn C. Gill Foundation Composites Center.
“The world of materials science has advanced tremendously since my early days, and composite materials are an increasingly important aspect of our everyday lives,” said Gill. “It is important that the USC School of Engineering play a bigger role in composite materials research and education. I am pleased to give that program a big push.”
Composites are used in everything from fishing rods and wall paneling to bullet-proof vests and satellites. Generally made from different forms of plastic reinforced with fibers, composites are less expensive, lighter, stronger and more heat-resistant than metal or wood.
The USC School of Engineering established the Center for Composite Materials in 1995 to address problems associated with the design, manufacture and behavior of composite materials and to train students in composite technology. The center works with local industry through collaborations with corporate partners in the Los Angeles area, including the M.C. Gill Corp.
“I join my colleagues here in thanking M.C. and the M.C. Gill Foundation for this farsighted gift,” said Leonard Silverman, former dean of the school. “This commitment, combined with his earlier gift of an endowed chair for composite materials research, creates a very strong foundation to attain this goal.”
Steven Nutt, holder of the M.C. Gill Chair in Composite Materials and director of the composites center, said it currently has more than a dozen active projects involving eight faculty members from six different departments in the engineering school. Research projects also involve students, including undergraduates, and a full-time postdoctoral fellow.

IN 1945, GILL BEGAN making “Wallfab,” a washable laminated wall covering composed of a decorative fabric on flexible polyester resin with an opaque paper backing. That product evolved into “Gillfab,” a puncture-resistant liner for aircraft cargo compartments. Gillfab had the strength of aluminum and the density of magnesium.
Based in El Monte, Calif., the M.C. Gill Corp. is now the world’s largest manufacturer of cargo liners for passenger and freight aircraft and also makes passenger compartment floor panels. With sales approaching $90 million annually, the company is distinguished for having the largest research and development expenditures per sales dollar.
Gill is a member of the USC School of Engineering’s Board of Councilors, Presidential Associates, Cardinal and Gold and the USC Norris Auxiliary.

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