Learn how an engineer changed the way we do our dishes
In the past, the common problem with dish washing liquid was that the dyes used would stain dishes and dishwasher interiors. One man, Dennis Weatherby, solved that problem, bringing us that famous Proctor & Gamble product, Cascade. His development is now the basis of most dish washing detergents sold today.
Weatherby was born in Brighton, Alabama, in December 1959. He was part of a large family that included nine older siblings. His family always encouraged him to follow his dreams. Weatherby won a football scholarship to Central State University, a historically Black school in Wilberforce, Ohio. He received a B.S. degree from Central State in 1982 and a M.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Dayton in 1984.
After finishing his studies, Weatherby began working for the Procter & Gamble Company in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a process engineer. At the age of just 27 he was given a chance to lead a team to create a new consumer product. With his team, Weatherby developed a solution that employed a category of dyes that could be used in products containing bleach and, at the same time, would give the soap a lemon-yellow color that would not stain dishes. With fellow inventor Brian J. Roselle, he received U.S. patent No. 4,714,562, issued on Dec. 22, 1987, for his breakthrough “Automatic dishwasher detergent composition”, which led to the breakthrough product, Cascade. The solution now serves as the basic formula behind all of today’s “lemon-scented” cleaning products containing bleach.
In 1989, he began working for Central State University, as an academic adviser and recruiter in the water resources center. According to the school, which has historically catered to black students, under Weatherby’s leadership the program experienced a more than 400 percent growth in student enrollment with a better than 80 percent retention rate. In 1994 he became an assistant professor of water quality at CSU in its International Center for Water Resources Management.
In 1996, Weatherby moved on to the institution where he had completed his graduate studies, Auburn University, to become director of the school’s new minority engineering program. There he served as a role model and adviser for black and other young minority men and women. In 2006, he became the Associate Provost for Student Success at Northern Kentucky University, which he served until his death in September 2007.
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