Professor Edwin H. Young passed away at his home in Ann Arbor on September 12, 2013, a few months short of his 95th birthday. Young, born in Detroit, Michigan, earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Detroit and two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan, one in chemical engineering in 1949, and another in metallurgical engineering in 1952. He was a faculty member in the department for 42 years before retiring in 1989.
He was active in his profession, and served as president of the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1968-69. He maintained a consulting practice for many years, and was in the U.S. Naval Reserve, where he was promoted to Captain in 1964. He served as a deacon and head usher at Grace Bible Church, and for more than 40 years taught an adult Sunday School class.
Young is survived by his wife, Signe; his son, David, and daughter-in-law, Rebecca; and his granddaughter, Deborah. His daughter, Barbara, preceded him in death.
Reminiscences of Edwin H. Young, by James O. Wilkes (September 15, 2013)
Professor Young was the epitome of the professional chemical engineer. He was among the remarkable group of faculty who joined the department in the 15 years following World War II, and who were strongly oriented towards chemical engineering practice. As a teacher, his forte was chemical process design, particularly because of his strong backgrounds in both chemical engineering and metallurgy, and further evidenced by his coauthorship (with Lloyd Brownell) of the 1959 landmark text Process Equipment Design. As a researcher, he was an expert in heat transfer, and from 1958-1988 he led a succession of doctoral investigations involving long-tube vertical evaporators, nucleate pool boiling, refrigerants, turbulators, and finned and fluted tubes. As an engineer, he had an enviable record of promoting engineering as a profession, and these activities were recognized by a series of awards at the national level. As a colleague and friend, he was unfailingly cheerful, professional, and encouraging; he could always be counted on for his insight and wise advice, on both personal and engineering levels.
Memories from the Fall 1984 Chemical Engineering ChE 487 senior design class
Professor Young made a significant impression on his senior design students, teaching them lessons that they remember to this day. Ann Heil, Supervising Engineer at the Los Angeles County Sanitation district, recalls “In his class, I not only learned the technical aspects of chemical engineering design, but the practical aspects as well. My most enduring memory of the class is that our final design report was due at a specific time, not a minute later. If it was a minute late, it would not be accepted and none of the tremendous amounts of work we had done on it would matter. This was an excellent lesson about how deadlines work in the real world, and I have never forgotten it.”
Bob Pociask, Regional Sales Director at Univation Technologies, LLC, recalls Young stressing the importance of defining the problem. “Nine months after graduation, I was faced with a design issue in a multi-million dollar complex that we didn’t have a clear idea how to solve,” he recalls. “By applying his methodology, we went back to first principles and worked through the night (just like 486/487!) and solved it.” Those who have experienced some of the challenges of working in the Dow building will appreciate Bob’s recollection of the first year in the Dow building, where there were already many building related “issues” such as water running down the stairwell walls. Young shared with the class this bit of wisdom, “Remember, this building was built by the low bidder!”— a lesson Bob has never forgotten.
Young also made sure that it was clear that students should set high expectations of themselves and not be so concerned about the grading scale. Mark Kay, Director of North American Distribution Sales at NOVA Chemicals recalls going to Young’s office hours to, as he writes “sleuth around and understand the big drivers as to how he was going to grade the design project: What areas will he look to? How does he determine the grade?” Mark adds “Exasperated, or just impatient, with a smile on his face, he says to me ‘I don’t know Mark, maybe it all depends on my mood the day I grade your team’s report. Maybe I’ll roll a set of dice…’ I laughed, I got it. He wasn’t going to say. Nice, very classic Ed Young.”