Richard W. Couch Jr. Receives 2008 Robert Fletcher Award
The Robert Fletcher Award is given annually to a graduate or friend of Thayer School in recognition of distinguished achievement and service in the highest tradition of the School. The award is named in honor of Robert Fletcher, who was appointed by Sylvanus Thayer as the School's first professor of engineering and its first director (1871–1918). The Dean of Thayer School chooses each year's award recipient who then traditionally delivers Thayer School's Investiture speech.
The 2008 Robert Fletcher Award recipient is Richard W. Couch Jr., Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Hypertherm, Inc., a manufacturer of plasma arc and laser cutting systems.
After graduating from Dartmouth, Mr. Couch was employed by Creare, Inc. as a project engineer. In 1968, he and Robert Dean co-founded Hypertherm to apply ultra-high temperature technology to industrial problems. In 1971, Mr. Couch purchased the majority interest in Hypertherm and became Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board.
Mr. Couch has numerous patents in the fields of plasma cutting and pollution control. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and one of the founders of Ledyard National Bank in Hanover. Since its inception, Hypertherm has grown to over 850 associates worldwide and has been recognized as a "Best Place to Work in America" for its commitment to employees and the community at large.