Hometown: Marciac, France
Education: University of Toulouse
For nearly 30 years, Serge Labesque has been part of a team at Kreysler & Associates, American Canyon, Calif., creating a wide range of innovative architectural and industrial applications. Recent projects range from a 51-foot-tall composite paintbrush sculpture installed in Philadelphia to the ceiling and wall panels of Stanford University’s Bing Concert Hall, slated for its first public performance in January.
“Serge’s unique combination of intellect, education in math and physics, and remarkable skill as a craftsman has made the work we do possible,” says Bill Kreysler, founder of Kreysler & Associates. Labesque deflects the praise, attributing the company’s success to a great blend of creative and technical staff under Kreysler’s tutelage. “I don’t think any one of us isolated would be able to produce the things we have,” says Labesque, director of custom fabrication at Kreysler & Associates.
The French native studied math and physics at the University of Toulouse before attending the French Meteorological Society and working as a meteorologist for seven years. Labesque moved to the United States in 1979 and served as assistant to Ron Owen, a renowned builder of wooden racing shells. Then he worked for Performance Sailcraft, rising to head of the woodworking shop. When Kreysler started his company in 1982, Labesque joined him to build fiberglass sailboats. “I got gradually involved, first making a few molds and then learning the materials and processes along the way,” recalls Labesque.
Thirty years later, composites continue to intrigue him. “The industry is vibrant and wide open,” says Labesque. “There is so much mental energy going into composites today. It’s mind boggling.
Hometown: Forest, Miss.
Alma Mater: University of Mississippi
Hobbies: Playing tennis and flying RC planes
In the mid 1980s, Ellen Lackey left her small hometown of Forest, Miss., and moved three hours north to Oxford to study engineering as an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi – and she’s lived there ever since. Lackey earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate degree in engineering science from the university. She’s served as a professor of engineering at Ole Miss since 1995 and is the director of the Composite Materials Research Group (CMRG).
Lackey’s interest in composites was sparked as a graduate student. “There’s such a broad range of applications with so many different challenges,” says Lackey. “With so many problems to solve, it keeps things interesting.” The University of Mississippi’s CMRG conducts pultrusion and composite material characterization and manufacturing research.
During her 18 years in research, Lackey has worked on numerous innovative projects. She has studied the use of natural fibers for pultrusion, developed and tested composite materials for destroyer hull structures for the U.S. Navy and worked with ACMA’s Pultrusion Industry Council to develop an LRFD design manual and perform ASTM testing.
While Lackey enjoys research, she’s also passionate about teaching students. She has received seven teaching awards, including the 1999 Society of Automotive Engineers Ralph Teetor Award for Engineering Educators and the 2007 University of Mississippi School of Engineering Teaching Award.
“I’ve definitely seen a progression of knowledge and interest in composites,” says Lackey. “We’ve gone from students asking, ‘What is a composite?’ to people now interested in how to use composites in engineering design work.” That interest will continue to build, she says, as more materials and manufacturing processes become more efficient.