A 1948 grad in chemical engineering, Benjamin D’Armiento, of Toms River, formerly of Clifton, has worked in a field literally full of color. For more than three decades, D’Armiento, who received the NJIT Alumni Achievement Award on May 22, 2010, earned professional prominence with dyes and colorants essential for applications such as printing and automotive finishing. His life has had figurative touches of color too ― as a fencing champion, community activist and enthusiastic tour guide for foreign visitors to the U.S.
At Newark’s Barringer High School, one indicator of D’Armiento’s technical aptitude was the savings bond won in a competition sponsored by the 1939 World’s Fair, whose theme was Building the World of Tomorrow. “I won for the idea of an elevated monorail that would run down the median of a highway stretching from northern New Jersey to Atlantic City,” D’Armiento says.
Although he worked at the Newark Public Library while studying to become an engineer, D’Armiento still managed to exercise his fencing skills. A champion high-school fencer, D’Armiento and several like-minded students parried initial administrative reluctance to reenergize the college’s fencing program, suspended during World War II. “I loved the sport and was even able to continue as a coach at the YMCA in Newark for about 14 years after graduation,” he recalls.
Receiving his degree, D’Armiento joined a firm named Interchemical, an association that lasted until 1996 through acquisition by United Technologies and BASF. Initially assigned to food container coatings, it wasn’t long before he took on the work where he made a significant professional mark.
Managing design and construction of an automated facility in Indiana that produced ink then pumped to a large printing plant was among the many high points of D’Armiento’s career. Two patents also underscore his expertise ― one for greatly accelerating the preparation of container coatings and another for the recovery of solvents used in printing and automotive finishing.
Before he retired from full-time work with BASF as manager of engineering for the North American graphics group, D’Armiento traveled widely in Europe to evaluate plants and operations. Back home, he was also a tour guide for visiting foreign staff. “I really liked to do it, and on weekends I would escort visitors to all the sights in Manhattan ― the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, you name it. I think it’s because I enjoy meeting different people so much.”
As D’Armiento tells it, his sociability has led to forays into community activism as well. Living in Clifton, before his retirement, he successfully organized neighbors to keep a developer from building an unwanted apartment complex. Today, D’Armiento lives in Toms River. Getting to know D’Armiento, the mayor recognized just the person to organize a petition drive aimed at asking residents to vote on changing the name of what was then Dover Township to Toms River ― to avoid confusion with the Dover Township in Morris County. D’Armiento spearheaded the collection of signatures for a ballot question that voters enthusiastically passed.
D’Armiento continues to be very much engaged with his alma mater. He’s on the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors and the President’s Alumni Advisory Council. A member of the Monmouth and Ocean County Regional Club, you’ll also see him greeting alums and guests at events like Lakewood BlueClaws baseball games.