1998 William G. Hunter Award Recipient: Edward A. Sylvestre

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The 1998 William G. Hunter Award was presented to Edward A. Sylvestre at the Fall Technical Conference (FTC) in Corning, NY. The Statistics Division of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) established the Hunter Award in 1987 in memory of the Division's founding chair to promote, encourage and acknowledge outstanding accomplishments during a career in the broad field of applied statistics. The attributes that characterize Bill Hunter's career - consultant, educator for practitioners, communicator, and integrator of statistical thinking into other disciplines - also characterize Ed’s career.

Ed is the Principal in Quantitative Insights, a company specializing in the areas of Market Research, Market Modeling, Voice of the Customer and Quality Improvement. Prior to 1992 he spent a career of 27 years at Eastman Kodak Company. Ed also was on the Adjunct Faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester.

Ed made the following remarks when he accepted the award:

When Galen call me about two months ago to inform of the award I was obviously very pleased and honored but interestedly enough my first response was to collect additional data. I asked Galen to send me a copy of the name of the past winners of the award. Through my career with Kodak and my association and activities with AQC and ASA I was fortunate to work closely with 7 out of the ten past winners of the award as well as with Bill himself.

After reviewing the list of past winners, the first thing that came to my mind was the role that the Fall Technical Conference and the Gordon Conference on Statistics in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering has had on the development of my career as well as most of the past winners of the award. I have always viewed these two conferences as premier opportunities to learn more about the application of statistics and to associate with the individuals that were driving the application of statistics into new areas.

Over the past month I had the opportunity to talk to four past winners of the award: Bill Hill, Ron Snee Ted Jackson and Bill Lawton. Again falling into the old trap of data collect, I asked them to list the top five attributes that come to mind when they think of Bill Hunter. Not exactly a scientific sample but on the other hand it was 40% of the population.

From their list of top attributes two clearly came across as high on everyone’s list:

  • Broad interest in the application of statistics and
  • Excellent communicator

To collect some additional data on these attributes I did a search in the citation index that gives a listing of published references to papers Bill had published. The results showed 63 different publications were referenced with a total of 285 citations from 1983 - 1997. In reviewing the origin of the citations it was interesting to note that most were from publications in the applications areas like: Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Environmental Science. These results demonstrate that Bill’s broad interest in the application of statistics and his excellent ability to communicate was motivating many individual outside the area of statistics and quality to apply these techniques to new and unusual applications.

In my own career I have had the opportunity to apply statistical techniques throughout the broad range of business processes:

  • Research and Development
  • Manufacturing
  • Marketing
Application areas have included:
  • The Photographic Process
  • Copiers
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • and most recently in the area of Estimation of Sale and Use Tax

Bill worked hard to point out - The application of Statistics can have a tremendous impact on helping to solve "real" problems. All of us in the field must continue to work not only on our technical skills but also our communication skill so that we can position our product, statistical and quality tools, to reach the broadest possible market - scientists, engineers, brand managers and general managers.

In closing, I want to thank the ASQ Statistics Division for this award and I feel very honored to be recognized as worthy to receive the award name after such an outstanding individual.