Dr. John Mauro was just 6 years old when he discovered his passion for glass. John was hooked as soon as he walked in the Corning Museum of Glass for the first time with his parents, who’d driven from nearby Hornell for an outing during summer vacation.
“I fell in love with glass that day,” said John, who still cherishes the glass animals he received as samples from museum flameworkers. “I wanted to see every piece of glass in the museum. They were all so beautiful.”
Even at such a tender age, John already had another passion – computer programming . He’d started creating simple programs for his first computer, a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A, when he was only 4. He also invented board games as a child, and by the time he was a high school senior, he was selling computer games for Macintosh computers through his own website. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was his first sale, buying three copies of Trilite, a version of tic-tac-toe. “He wrote a nice note telling me how much he liked it,” John said. “That provided me with a lot of encouragement.”
An Alfred University video on glass science that John saw as a high schooler at Alfred-Almond Central School showed him how he could make a career of his two passions. “It talked about computing at the speed of light using glass photonic devices, and everything just seemed to come together for me,” said John.
He graduated from Alfred–majoring in both glass engineering science and computer science– in 2001, and started working at Corning Incorporated. He continued studying at Alfred and earned his Ph.D. in glass science in 2006. Over the span of just a few years, John became a world-recognized expert in the area of glass fundamentals and developed a number of breakthrough models to describe and understand glass behavior. He’s filed 20 patent applications; five inventions have already earned patents. He has been awarded by The American Ceramic Society’s Glass & Optical Materials Division, The International Commission on Glass, and was the first recipient of the Sir Alastair Pilkington Award from the Society of Glass Technology.
John’s wife of 10 years, Yihong, is also a research scientist at Corning Incorporated – and at home, the Mauros are happy to see their 6-year-old daughter is showing signs of following in their inventive footsteps. “One of my proudest moments as a parent was when Sofia, when she was 3, asked me out of the blue whether glass is a liquid or a solid,” John said.
Sofia also shares her father’s love of the Corning Museum of Glass.
“When we have a daddy-daughter day, inevitably she wants to go to the Museum,” John said. “Seeing her face light up around the glass is now my favorite part of visiting the Museum.”