By Meredith McCulloch
Bedford resident David Bruce Spencer was elected to the National Academy of Engineering which cited his “invention and entrepreneurship in materials manufacturing and recycling.” Election to the Academy is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer, and Spencer is one of only 67 people nationwide to be named this year.
On its website, the Academy says it “honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature,” and to the “pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
Spencer founded wTe Corporation in 1981, located on Alfred Circle in Bedford, and until his recent retirement he was chairman and chief technology officer. The company focuses on large-scale reclamation and recycling of metals and plastics.
When asked what drew him to this field he said while growing up he was taught to not waste anything. “My mother never threw anything away,” he said, “so I found recycling matched my ethics and values.” He went on to say that all recycling is good, but it needs to make sense financially or it won’t be sustained. That is the advantage of automated operations.
wTe’s plastics division in Albany, New York is a bottles to bottles operation under the name UltrePET, LLC in a partnership with Tomra of North America.. It shreds polyethylene terephthalate (“PET”) plastic resins, mostly from beverage bottles, and supplies the material to companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi for reuse in bottles. The Metals Division under the name wTe Recycling operates in Greenfield, MA. There is another operation in Nova Scotia. Recent innovations make use of spectroscopy to separate non-ferrous metals at high speeds.
Spencer has a B.S. degree from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and received an Sc.D in metallurgy and materials science from MIT.
He and his wife Ginni Spencer have lived in Bedford for more than 40 years and have two daughters and seven grandchildren.