By Wileen Wong Kromhout
James L. Easton, chairman and CEO of sports equipment company Jas. D. Easton Inc., has given $2 million to the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science to fund research on advanced carbon materials for sports equipment and aerospace applications.
“Few institutions have the capabilities and expertise of UCLA,” said Easton, who received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from UCLA in 1959. “Few universities can study carbon nanotubes for sports equipment, conduct leading-edge research in cancer and Alzheimer’s, and be home to over 100 national sports championships.”
Easton is a pioneer in the use of carbon nanotubes for real-world applications. Carbon nanotubes are single or multiple atomic layers of graphite wound into tubes. Because of their size and composition, they have unique electrical, mechanical and other physical properties. Their light weight, strength and resistance to corrosion make them ideal for use in a variety of applications, including flexible optoelectronic devices for energy harvesting and energy storage, compressed natural-gas tanks, and aerospace and sports equipment.
“Jim is a visionary leader,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of UCLA Engineering. “The potential applications of carbon nanotubes are vast, ranging from nanotechnology, electronics and optics to aerospace and leading-edge sports equipment. We are thankful for Jim’s generous gift to fund research in such a vital area.”
The driving force behind years of innovations at Easton Sports, Easton spent five years in the aerospace industry before joining his father, Doug Easton, in the world’s leading aluminum arrow shaft business.
A subsidiary of Jas. D. Easton Inc., Easton Sports was merged with the Riddell, Bell and Giro companies under the Easton–Bell Sports Inc. name and ownership in 2006. The combined companies are the industry leaders in their respective core products — Easton baseball and softball bats, ice-hockey sticks, and cycling components; Riddell football helmets; and Bell and Giro ski and cycling helmets. Easton Sports recently introduced a new line of cutting-edge carbon-fiber bats and hockey sticks.
Jas D. Easton Inc. is the world’s largest archery company and owns three major companies in the archery market: Easton Technical Products (arrows, snowshoes and structural frame tubing for mountaineering tents), Hoyt Archery (recurve and compound bows) and Delta Sports (targets).