Alfred W. Fielding '39 Co-invented Bubble Wrap

Alfred W. Fielding '39 Co-invented Bubble Wrap

An illustrious Stevens alumnus, the late Alfred W. Fielding co-invented Bubble Wrap in the late 1950s. Today, Sealed Air Corporation, the Saddle Brook, N.J.-based company he co-founded in 1960, is a worldwide manufacturer of packaging materials with annual revenues exceeding $3 billion. Fielding's story is one of those inspirational invention tales with a creative, unintended twist - a success story that even today Stevens students can learn from as they look forward to their careers. The early history of Bubble Wrap demonstrates, for inventors, that keeping an open mind to possible applications is a clear advantage - ultimately, you may start out trying to invent one thing, only to hit on an even better idea.

Inventor & Entrepreneur

The story begins in 1957 in a garage in Hawthorne, N.J., with two entrepreneurial engineers hard at work, Fielding and his partner, a Swiss inventor named Marc Chavannes. They are trying to invent a plastic wallpaper with a paper backing. It fails. But along the way they realize their invention could be used for packing material. Thus, giving birth to what is now known around the world as Bubble Wrap, and the Sealed Air Corporation, the company that has developed and marketed it. Through its technology, Sealed Air Corporation essentially built a specialty chemical business in protective packaging. The kinds of chemical engineering processes employed to make Sealed Air's products a success are taught at Stevens today. What's more, the entrepreneurial spirit behind the environment at Stevens is the very same that led Fielding to found Sealed Air Corporation.

A native of Hackensack, N.J., Fielding graduated from Stevens in 1939. He earned a master of science degree from Stevens in 1943. Stevens awarded him an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1986. He is in the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame for his role in creating Bubble Wrap, and he was inducted into membership in The Newcomen Society of the United States in 1982. The Newcomen Society recognizes pioneers who have laid the foundations for major enterprises.

A Generous Benefactor to Stevens

Fielding was also particularly generous to his alma mater, providing funds for a laboratory established during his lifetime, and, through his family's continued generosity, for the future establishment of an endowed chairmanship on the Stevens faculty. A conference room in the university's main administration building was named in his honor.

The Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering & Science has two ongoing funds:

  • The Graduate Fellowship Fund provides for scholarships to graduate students who are participate in teaching and research.
  • The Engineering Design Laboratory Fund provides resources to enhance the design experience of Stevens undergraduate engineering students.

Stevens History of Invention

View a timeline of inventiveness at Stevens, from its founding in 1870 by the Stevens family of engineers, inventors, and entrepreneurs, to homegrown companies and leading-edge research.

Bubble Wrap at MOMA

Bubble Wrap was featured in the 2004 "Humble Masterpieces " at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City along with Scotch tape, Q-tips, chop sticks, lead pencil, paper clip, post-it notes, band-aids, etc.