Gary W. Smith

Associate Professor – Retired, Textiles NC State University

Gary W. Smith
Years of Service Textiles NC State 1969 – 2007


Gary W. Smith was born in 1942, in Galt, Ontario, Canada, the son of Russell Burnell Smith and Angeline Dedyna Smith. He was educated in the public schools of Galt. He was a member and second in command of the Glenview Park volunteer cadet corps in 1959. During high school he worked week­ends and summers for a company producing textured yarns and was trained by an employee regarding new employee training approach. He graduated from high school and entered the Hamilton (Ontario) Institute of Technology where he un­learned many of the training principles he had been taught earlier during his student work days. He graduated with a diploma in Textile Technology in 1965. Upon graduation and upon the recommendation of his HIT Professors, he entered the School of Textiles’ Four in One Program and received a BS degree in Textile Technology. During his studies in one of his courses he sat beside a girl (Martha) who he would later meet again and marry. He graduated in 1966. He returned to Canada and worked for Collins & Aikman in Stratford, Ontario for a year and a half. It was then that he decided to return to Raleigh and enroll in the Master of Textile Technology degree program. He graduated in 1969 and joined the textile faculty as an Instructor.

Gary as a student in the Shuttle Inn-foreground right

Short Course Lecture


As part of a learning process he specifically requested that he be allowed to teach yarn, weaving and especially knitting courses so he could better visualize how input products, practices and processes in various technologies were and could have an influence on productivity, cost and quality. Numerous discussions over coffee in the Shuttle Inn et cetera with Professor Ed Bradford of the College faculty relating to “how it really is in industry” forever changed the way Professor Smith viewed how lecture material could and should be presented to students so that they could visualize the real world. During his career, Dr. Smith also participated strongly in the Extension Program in the College teaching yarn, weaving and, especially, knitting courses.

Along with his campus teaching duties, Gary participated in on­campus short courses and also in­plant yarn, weaving and knitting courses. He taught a wide range of textile courses including but not limited to: T 105, T 220, T 250, TT 241, TT 341, TT 370, TT 441 and TT 449 and a number of graduate courses including TT 541 (weft knitting) and TT 549 (warp knitting). In all of his courses he used theoretical principles in a way that students could visualize, understand and apply material. For example, at least once a semester on an individual or group of three student basis, he would assign a two week project that was related to productivity, quality and cost. The assignment often took the form of “On one side of one page, document in 5 words or less, 200 (or 300) suggestions that would or could allow your Plant Manager to increase productivity and quality while reducing cost.” All suggestions were to be grouped under differing topics such as machinery related, input product related, ambient conditions related et cetera.”

His teaching was recognized with the awarding of many citations: Outstanding Man of the Year DKP Fraternity, 1971; NCSU Outstanding Extension Service Award 1981­82, 1990­91, and 1993­94. He received the College of Textiles’ Undergraduate Outstanding Teaching Award for 1996­97, the Pan­Hellenic Outstanding Teacher Award 2003, and was the College Nominee for the University Board of Governors’ Award for Excellence in Teaching 2003. This award recognizes outstanding teachers who have given long­term service for each College.


He was granted a fellowship by the North Carolina Textile Foundation in 1971 to attend the University of Leeds, Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK to pursue his Ph.D. in Knitting in the Department of Textile Industries. He studied under Professor Dennis L. Munden and completed his degree requirements in 1980. The course of study required two periods of study in Leeds to meet all thesis requirements; his thesis involved the dimensional properties of blister fabrics. In 1972, his son Russell James Smith was born in Leeds.

Gary Smith far right at a SENAI Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil 1984


During his career, he developed and taught knitting courses in Brazil, Canada, Mexico and Colombia. In addition, he hosted a number of visiting scholars from Brazil, South Korea, and Turkey. As part of an agreement between the College of Textiles and Senai­Cetiqt (National Service for Industrial Training ­ The Technology Center for the Chemical and Textile Industry) in Brazil, Professor Smith worked with a variety of Professors from Senai­Cetiqt focusing on how to better impart knowledge to students using practical down­to­earth teaching and assignment techniques. Also as part of his work with Senai­Cetiqt, he travelled around Brazil giving in-plant audits and 1­3 day knitting seminars. For each of these courses offered in various cities in Brazil, he would initially visit each of the participating knitting companies and then offer a focused course incorporating knitting principles and plant­related problems. Using this course approach, problems in a particular company were discussed with management on a private basis but in the course, they were only generically discussed. Since 1980, Professor Smith visited and/or audited 125 international plants in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, England, Italy and Colombia. As a basis for programs in offered in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Recife, Blumenau and Fortaleza et cetera, his 313 one time or multiple domestic U. S. plant visits were very helpful.


He traveled frequently to ATME textile machinery exhibitions in the United States and to ITMA international exhibitions in Paris, Hannover, Milan and Birmingham. In both the U. S. and Brazil, Gary attended numerous trade shows and participated in conferences. In the U. S., conference attendance and presentations occurred in Charlotte, Atlanta, Atlantic City, Greenville, SC and Raleigh. In Brazil, conference attendance and presentations occurred in Fortaleza, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Blumenau, Recife and Natal. In five special projects involving Dr. Smith, Senai­Cetiqt and UNIDO, special and specific topic seminars were given in Jaragua do Sul, Blumenau, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. From 1987 to 1998, Dr. Smith was a technical advisor to Senai­Cetiqt in Rio, and from 1994­1999 he was a technical advisor to Senai­Certtex (National Center for Textile Technology) in Recife. In all, Dr. Smith visited Brazil 32 times as a consultant, lecturer, advisor and seminar speaker. In Mexico, numerous plants were visited and several conferences related to knitting were offered in Puebla at The Textile Institute. In addition, lectures were given at Ibeiro Americana also in Puebla.

Gary visiting Ed Bradford after retirement

Ed Bradford talks to Santa Smith


From a publications point of view, 146 papers were published (5 refereed and 141 trade). Dr. Smith was also a U. S. Correspondent for Textiles Panamericanos magazine.


Gary was a National Treasurer for Delta Kappa Phi and a Kappa Tau Beta Advisor. In addition, he belonged to the American Society for Knitting Technologists, The American Society for Quality Control and The Fiber Society.


Source:  Personal Contact:, Gary W. Smith, April 2012.