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Scott Fogler’s 25/50/75 Celebration

Scott Fogler's colleagues, students, and 35 former students honored him in May with a 25/50/75 symposium and dinner, where they celebrated 25 years of Scott’s book as the dominant textbook in chemical reaction engineering, his 50 years at the University of Michigan, and his 75th birthday. | Medium Read



Scott Fogler’s colleagues, students, and 35 former students honored him in May with a 25/50/75 symposium and dinner, where they celebrated 25 years of Scott’s book as the dominant textbook in chemical reaction engineering, his 50 years at the University of Michigan, and his 75th birthday.

The Department of Chemical Engineering hosted a celebration in honor of Professor Scott Fogler on May 16. This was not a retirement party; Scott will be back in the classroom in the fall as usual. Rather, his colleagues, students, and 35 former students honored him in May with a 25/50/75 symposium and dinner, where they celebrated 25 years of Scott’s book as the dominant textbook in chemical reaction engineering, his 50 years at the University of Michigan, and his 75th birthday. Professor Ron Larson, Dr. Henry Browning, and Scott’s secretary, Laura Bracken, planned and organized the event. Guests came from all over the US and from Vietnam , Thailand, South Africa, Norway, and India to celebrate this milestone with Scott. He said he was honored and thrilled that so many people came back from great distances for the celebration. “I loved seeing everyone,” Scott said. “I just wish we had more time to spend with everyone.”

On Friday night, Scott and his wife, Jan, hosted a gathering for more than 50 out of town guests. The weather cooperated and people were able to spend time visiting throughout the house and on the decks. Former students tended to gather in groups with their cohorts so they could catch up with each other after many years away from Ann Arbor.

Saturday began with a symposium in the Dow Building in the afternoon. Dr. Henry Browning (PhD ’96) was the master of ceremonies for both the symposium and the dinner that followed. He did a fantastic job and attendees were happy to see that he hasn’t lost his sense of humor in the nearly twenty years since he left Michigan. The first speakers were former and current students who talked about Scott’s lab most recent research areas. The group included Professor Michael Hoepfner (PhD ’13) from the University of Utah, Dr. Nasim Haji Akbari Balou (PhD ’14) from Phillips66, and PhD candidates Claudio Vilas Bôas Fávero and Mark Sheng Zhang. They were followed by colleagues and former students who gave technical talks: Alumni from Scott’s group, Professor Karsten Thompson (PhD ’96) from Louisiana State University and Dr. Ayuma Yokoyama (PhD ’89) from Axalta Coating Systems, and colleagues, Professor Joe Goddard from the University of California, San Diego, Professor Richard Braatz from MIT, and Dr. Bill Kline from ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company.

Some of the honored guests in attendance at the dinner, which took place at the Michigan Union, were University of Michigan President Emeritus, James Duderstadt, and his wife, Anne; Professor Alec Gallimore, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering; Professor Phil Savage, Department Head at Penn State, and his wife, Elaine; Professor Robert Davis, Dean of Engineering at the University of Colorado-Boulder; and Professors Charles Petty and Carl Lira from Michigan State. Scott’s family in attendance in addition to his wife were his sister, Sally Ilyan, and Scott and Jan’s three children, Peter, Kristi Fogler Bellini, and Rob and his wife, Cathy, and their two children, Max and Joe.

Professor Tom Edgar, from the University of Texas and former president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), opened the evening program by recounting some of the contributions Scott has made to AIChE. He talked about how as president Scott encouraged them to create “ChE on Demand,” now the “AIChE Academy,” where members can find lectures and educational material online to learn about special ChE topics. Edgar also mentioned Scott’s efforts to establish the Chem-E Car competition, a very successful annual event for AIChE student chapters.

Charles Shilowa, the inaugural intern from Witwatersrand University in South Africa, talked about how Scott’s “intern program,” that has brought in 20 students over 15 years from South Africa to work in Scott’s lab, has had a profound impact on many who suffered under years of apartheid. According to Shilowa, most interns come from disadvantaged backgrounds and through education often become the first engineers in their hometowns. Scott’s help has changed the course of their lives and today they are executive directors and technical executives and managers, and are able helping family members go to college. Shilowa added that they also “give back” to their communities and help make a difference in many other lives too.

Scott’s second PhD student, Dr. Simon Li (PhD ’77), now a pastor in Houston TX, after 25 years with Shell, gave the invocation.

The next speaker, Dr Pomthong Malakul, who received a PhD in 1999, under the direction of Henry Wang, is the Dean of Petroleum and Petrochemical College at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. Malakul talked about the program that was originally started in 1993, with the assistance of the University of Michigan, the University of Oklahoma, and Case Western University. He said that Scott has traveled to Bangkok at least once a year for the last 22 years to teach reaction engineering and/or problem solving, and has mentored and supervised some 50 master’s students.

Michael Cutlip, professor emeritus from the University of Connecticut and co-author and co-founder of POLYMATH, talked about Scott’s textbooks. Dr. Cutlip recounted that when he received a major grant in the 1970s to develop a computer-based program in reaction engineering, he used Scott’s 1973 textbook “The Elements of Chemical Kinetics and Reactor Calculations” as a resource text. He used PLATO, a computer-assisted instruction system, developed at the University of Illinois, for solving equations. Cutlip says that this work eventually led him and colleagues to develop POLYMATH, a data analysis program; the program that Scott uses with his text “Elements of Chemical Reaction Engineering.”

Professor Warren Seider (PhD ’66) spoke on behalf of CAChE (Computer Aids in Chemical Engineering), where Scott is a former president and a trustee for more than 30 years, and talked about Scott’s contribution of the interactive computer modules.

Above: Warren Seider, Rob Davis, Matt Miller, and Carol Yager Calkins

Professor Emeritus James Wilkes closed the main part of the program by addressing Scott’s many contributions to the department in his 50 years at the University. He said that Scott came to Ann Arbor, as the department was moving into a low period—during the late 1960s and 1970s. He emphasized that Scott remained loyal to Michigan, and quickly brought his teaching, research, and service to a very high level.

Wilkes said, “In our department’s history, which goes back to 1898, three faculty names stand above all others: Alfred Holmes White, George Granger Brown, and Donald L. Katz were unique in our history in that they, and they alone, shared four characteristics—first, they were national and international leaders in their fields; second, they devoted their whole careers to the University of Michigan; third, they were chairmen of the department; and fourth, they were elected to the presidency of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. And then, of course, Scott came along, and he can be added as the fourth of a great and unique Michigan quartet.”

After dinner, several other people spoke including Professor Rob Davis from University of Colorado, Scott’s wife, Jan, former PhD students Dr. Sunil Rege (PhD ’88), Dr. Ravi Narayan Vaidya (PhD ’91) Dr. Matt Miller (PhD ’94), Dr. Jason Huang (PhD ’11), and Carol Yager Calkins (BSE ’71), a former undergraduate student who was in one of Scott’s classes. Rob Fogler, Scott’s son, entertained the group with accounts of just how influential Scott’s textbook has been worldwide, and offered proof with photos of many people, and other beings, who have been spotted throughout the world reading the text.

When Scott came to the podium, he told the guests that being a professor at Michigan is a fantastic experience “because of the brilliant undergraduate students you get to teach that make it so much fun and the outstanding graduate students who we recruit.” He took time to thank a number of people who have helped him succeed in his career, including his wife, Jim Duderstadt, Dr. Susan Montgomery, Professor Emeritus Stuart Churchill from University of Pennsylvania and the former U-M department chair who hired Scott, and Klaus Timmerhaus, his doctoral advisor at the University of Colorado. In closing, he told his students that he was proud of each and everyone of them and reminded them “to continue to be proactive, to go to the extremes when analyzing variables, to look beyond the obvious, and to keep the end in mind.”

Portrait of Sandy Swisher


Sandy Swisher
Communications & Alumni Relations Coordinator

Chemical Engineering

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