Warren G. Schlinger

Born: May 29, 1923 | Los Angeles, CA, US
Died: Friday, February 10, 2017 | Pasadena, CA, US
Photograph of Warren and Katharine Schlinger

CHF Collections

Warren G. Schlinger begins his oral history interview by tracing his family heritage and discussing his introduction to chemistry: a Gilbert Chemistry Set owned by a friend. While a young man, Schlinger began to attend public lectures at California Institute of Technology where he eventually was accepted and completed his education, earning a doctorate in mechanical and chemical engineering. Schlinger spent the entirety of his career at the Texaco research lab in Montebello, California. Schlinger recollects the history of Texaco. He shares aspects of his private life--stories of meeting his wife Katharine, the successes of their three children, and the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Foundation that the Schlinger family established and manages.

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0259
No. of pages: 53
Minutes: 350

Interview Sessions

Arnold Thackray
24 July 2002

Abstract of Interview

Warren G. Schlinger begins the interview by tracing his family heritage. As a boy, Schlinger's family moved around in California to accommodate his father's employment with the United Parcel Service of America, Inc. It was in the sixth grade, Schlinger asserts, that his career began in earnest. His introduction to chemistry came in the form of a Gilbert Chemistry Set owned by a friend. It was not until the eleventh grade that he was formally taught in the subject, and by then he was already collaborating with classmates on experiments. While a young man, Schlinger began to attend public lectures at California Institute of Technology where he eventually was accepted and completed his education, earning a doctorate in mechanical and chemical engineering. After four years of post-doctoral research with Bruce H. Sage, Schlinger moved into the world of industrial research with Texaco, Inc. Schlinger spent the entirety of his career at the research lab in Montebello, California as an innovative and enthusiastic force within the West Coast branch of research and technology at the oil company. Schlinger recollects the history of Texaco, and especially, of the Montebello research facility. He shares aspects of his private life—stories of meeting his wife Katharine, the successes of their three children, and the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Foundation that the Schlinger family established and manages. He concludes the interview by reflecting on his career and the evolution of chemical engineering at Caltech.

Education

Year Institution Degree Discipline
1944 California Institute of Technology BS Applied Chemistry
1946 California Institute of Technology MS Chemical Engineering
1949 California Institute of Technology PhD Chemical and Mechanical Engineering

Professional Experience

California Institute of Technology

1949 to 1953
Instructor and Research Fellow

Texaco Montebello Research Laboratory

1953 to 1957
Chemical Engineer
1957 to 1961
Senior Chemical Engineer
1961 to 1969
Supervisor, Research
1969 to 1981
Manager
1981 to 1987
Associate Director, Gasification
1987 to 2003
Consultant

Honors

Year(s) Award
1976

Technical Achievement Award, AIChE, Southern California Section

1981

Chemical Engineering Practice Award, AIChE

1985

KFA Achievement Award, Electric Power Research Institute

1991

National Academy of Engineering

Table of Contents

Personal History and Undergraduate Studies at California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
1

Family lineage and career background. Introduction to chemistry in the sixth grade. Attending the Evening Demonstration Lectures at Caltech. Application and admission to Caltech. The resonance of World War II on the Caltech campus.

Masters and PhD Work
13

Katharine Schlinger recalls meeting her husband and their early life together. The Caltech experience. Working with Bruce H. Sage and William N. Lacey. Course requirements and expectations for chemical engineering graduate studies. Teaching and post-doctorate work with Bruce H. Sage.

Entering the Industrial World
24

Career choices and the transition from academia to industry. Catalytic cracking and fluid bed technology at Texaco, Inc. History of the research laboratory at Montebello, California. Working on the economic retrieval of oil from oil shale. Development of Texfining.

Career at Texaco, Inc.
32

Licensing of Texaco technology. Research at Montebello in the context of Texaco, Inc. Tackling coal technology at Texaco. Turning down the opportunity to return to Caltech. Overview of positions with Texaco. The Electric Power and Research Institute's interest in Montebello research. Development of combined cycle coal gasification.

Career Retrospective and Overview of Current Activities
40

Re-establishment of a relationship with Caltech and alumni. Retirement in 1987. Current activities in industry, attending lectures, and consulting. Family activities such as travel and management of the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Foundation. Reflection on a successful career.

Index
46

About the Interviewer

Arnold Thackray

Arnold Thackray founded the Chemical Heritage Foundation and served the organization as president for 25 years. He is currently CHF’s chancellor. Thackray received MA and PhD degrees in history of science from Cambridge University. He has held appointments at Cambridge, Oxford University, and Harvard University, the Institute for Advanced Study, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1983 Thackray received the Dexter Award from the American Chemical Society for outstanding contributions to the history of chemistry. He served for more than a quarter century on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was the founding chairman of the Department of History and Sociology of Science and is currently the Joseph Priestley Professor Emeritus.