Stuart W. Churchill
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Stuart Churchill begins with background information about his family and early education. He then describes his undergraduate years at the University of Michigan, where he was quite active in the mathematics department as well as in chemical engineering. After working in industry for five years, at Shell Oil and Frontier Chemical, he returned to Michigan for graduate school. There, he began both his extensive research on heat transfer, natural convection, and combustion, as well as his career in teaching. After earning his PhD and a position on Michigan's faculty, he began work on several military projects in the nuclear field. In addition, he served on the National Council of and as president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was also active in industrial consultation. After acquiring increasing administrative responsibilities as chairman of the department, he chose to move to the University of Pennsylvania to return his focus to research and teaching. His students were always a top priority, and throughout the interview he frequently alludes to his close, continuing relationships with them. He also stresses the dramatic impact of increased use of applied mathematics and improved computer technology on chemical engineering. Churchill concludes the interview with a brief discussion of his current work, his family life, and his leisure activities.
|1942||University of Michigan||BS Engineering||Chemical Engineering|
|1942||University of Michigan||BS Engineering||Engineering Mathematics|
|1948||University of Michigan||MS Engineering||Chemical Engineering|
|1952||University of Michigan||PhD||Chemical Engineering|
Shell Oil Company
Frontier Chemical Company
University of Michigan
University of Pennsylvania
Phi Lambda Upsilon Award for Outstanding Teaching and Leadership, University of Michigan
Citation for Research Contributions, Air Force Aeronautical Systems Division
Professional Progress Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Honorary Fellow, Chemical Institute of Canada
President, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
William H. Walker Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Elected Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Elected Member, National Academy of Engineering
S. Reid Warren, Jr., Award for Excellence in Teaching, University of Pennsylvania
Visiting Researcher Award, Japan Society for the Promotion of Science
Warren K. Lewis Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Max Jakob Award in Heat Transfer, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Special Honorary Issue, Chemical Engineering Communications
Diamond Jubilee Medallion, American Institute of Chemical Engineers Heat Transfer and Energy Conversion Division
Eminent Chemical Engineer, Diamond Jubilee of the American Institute for Chemical Engineers
Elected Corresponding Member, Verein Deutscher Ingenieure
Featured Engineer, Chemical Engineering Progress
Table of Contents
Born in Imlay City, Michigan. Guidance counselor encourages study of chemical engineering. Predisposed to University of Michigan because mother attended. Diverse academic and extracurricular interests. Chicago World's Fair heightens interest in science.
Strong interest in applied mathematics. Plays in marching band. Chemical engineering department has strong ties with industry. Works on senior research project under Don Katz. Discussion of textbooks and faculty.
Deferred from draft. Works on catalytic cracking. Urgency caused by war. Develops anti-rust compound for turbine oil.
Curtis Cannon convinces to join new enterprise. Starts electrochemical plant to produce hydrochloric acid using new method. Builds and operates plant with few engineers. Endeavor is extremely successful but requires tremendous amount of time and energy. Leaves because of impending sellout.
Disheartened by industry. Receives MS Eng. in 1948. Stunned by changes that had taken place in chemical engineering and applied mathematics. Begins teaching while working as research assistant, taking graduate courses, and working on thesis. Fellow graduate students and faculty. Updates heat transfer and fluid flow course. Studies and publishes on heat transfer at great temperature differences and ignition of propellants with Brier. Much of research sponsored by the military.
Works on Armed Forces Special Weapons Project to develop shield against nuclear weapons. Limited by lack of computer technology. Research on radiative scattering. Turns to natural convection and combustion. Hellums, a student, develops method for simplifying partial differential equations. Work for nuclear industry. Among the pioneers in using computers. Requires all students to have strong mathematics and physics backgrounds. Influence of R. R. White. Rankings of various chemical engineering programs. Effects of Transport Phenomena and the rate concept. Trends in engineering education.
Member of National Council. Serves as vice president, president, and past president. Active in improving university–industry relations. Government Relations Committee. Broadens international relations.
Research on attenuation of thermal radiation from nuclear weapons. Mathematical advances.
Katz, White, and Brown foster numerous opportunities. Research on liquid heat transfer, radiative transfer through fibrous materials, and ignition of propellants. Promotes exchange of information between industry and academe. Students and consulting projects. Helps arrange DuPont and Hercules program for young faculty members.
Leaves Michigan to return focus to teaching and research. Comparison of Penn and Michigan. Restarts combustion work with Joseph Chen. Continues to work closely with Hiroyuki Ozoe after Ozoe returns to Japan. International flow of students. Maintains close relationships with most students. Quality of facilities is frustrating but inspires use of superior methods. Importance of integrating theory and experimentation. Devises exceptional method of correlation. Current publishing activities.
Shift from empirical basis to theoretical orientation. Impact of computers and advanced mathematics. Effects on industry. Changes in quality of various universities' programs. Importance of a productive faculty. Evolution of industrial relations. Close-knit chemical engineering community endures. Journals. Changes in textbooks.
Rarely uses textbooks. Interactive approach. Encourages students to consider teaching. Descriptions of students and subsequent careers.
Hopes to resume research on natural convection. Much work with combustion. Professional organizations. Major awards. Family. Final statements on passion for chemical engineering.
About the Interviewer
Jeffrey L. Sturchio is president and CEO of the Global Health Council. Previously he served as vice president of corporate responsibility at Merck & Co., president of the Merck Company Foundation, and chairman of the U.S. Corporate Council on Africa. Sturchio is currently a visiting scholar at the Institute for Applied Economics and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Healthy Next Generation of the World Economic Forum. He received an AB in history from Princeton University and a PhD in the history and sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania.
Joseph C. Marchese received a BS in physics from St. John’s University, an MA in physics from Columbia University, an MA in history of science from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in history of science from Princeton University. He has taught high school physics, mathematics, and chemistry, and has held positions at Visual Education Corporation and Mathematical Policy Research, Inc. He served as a consultant to CHF's Beckman Center for the History of Chemistry in 1984–1985.