Chalmer G. Kirkbride
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
Chalmer Kirkbride begins the interview by describing his family background and childhood in Oklahoma and Kansas. During high school, Kirkbride's interests were influenced by his brother-in-law, a chemist for Sherwin-Williams. Kirkbride studied chemical engineering at the University of Michigan and spent summers working in the oil fields. He was recruited on campus by Standard Oil of Indiana and worked at the Whiting refinery. Kirkbride also worked for the Pan American Transport Company and Magnolia Petroleum Corporation before being appointed as the first distinguished engineering professor at Texas A&M University. In 1947, Kirkbride returned to industry when he was recruited by the Houdry Process Corporation. He became president of Houdry before moving to Sun Oil Company, where he created a commercial development department and began taking an active interest in environmental issues. After his retirement Kirkbride became president of the Cecil County Anti-Pollution league, founded Kirkbride Associates, and participated in board activities at Widener University.
|1930||University of Michigan||BSE||Chemical Engineering|
|2016||University of Michigan||MSE||Chemical Engineering|
Standard Oil Company Indiana
Pan American Refining Company
Magnolia Petroleum Company
Texas A&M University
Secretary of War
Houdry Process Corporation
Catalytic Construction Company
Sun Oil Company
Federal Energy Administration
Professional Progress Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
ScD (honorary), Beaver College (Arcadia University)
Eng D (honorary), Drexel University
Engineer of the Year, Delaware County Chapter, The Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers
Kirkbride Hall of Science and Engineering, Widener University
National Academy of Engineering
Founders Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineering
Distinguished Public Service Award, US Navy
Eng D (honorary), Widener University
Engineering Centennial Medal, Widener University
George Washington Award, Philadelphia Engineering Club
Fuels and Petrochemical Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers
Eminent Chemical Engineer, American Institute of Chemical Engineering
Table of Contents
Parents settling in Oklahoma Territory. Family move to Caney, Kansas. Early education. High school athletics. High marks in chemistry and math. Family's influence in pursuing higher education, chemistry.
Summer employment in the oil fields. Curriculum, faculty, fellow students.
On-campus recruitment. Work at Whiting refinery. First assignments. Papers on heat transfer and vertical tubes. Learning process engineering.
Move to Texas City. Meeting wife. Commission to Chemical Warfare Service. Making toluene. Marriage. Move to Dallas.
Thoughts on engineering and the humanities. Appointment as first distinguished professor in engineering. Research projects. Publications. Bikini atomic bomb tests.
Recruitment by Art Pew and Art Danner at AIChE meeting. Director of research position. Co-workers. Connection with Sun Oil. Presidency. Patent infringement suit with Mobil Oil.
Creation of commercial development department. Transition from technical to administrative work. Puerto Rico Project to manufacture lubricating oils. Environmental concerns. Oceanography work.
Retirement from Sun. Presidency of Anti-Pollution League opposing B. F. Goodrich acrylonitrile plant on C&D Canal. Consulting contracts. Association with Widener University.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.