About Us Section
William H. Walker
The study of chemical engineering at Penn State has its roots in the chemistry discipline, separated from general science in 1888. Dr. George Gilbert Pond, the first professor of chemistry, and one instructor taught all the chemistry courses offered in 1888.
William H. Walker, the first chemistry graduate in 1890, is now generally recognized as the father of chemical engineering.
Walker went to Göttingen for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees and returned to Penn State as an instructor in chemistry (1892-94). In 1894, he moved to MIT, where he established the School of Chemical Engineering Practice (1917) and collaborated with W. K. Lewis and W. H. McAdams in writing the first chemical engineering textbook, the classic Principles of Chemical Engineering (1924).
Jesse B. Churchill
An industrial chemistry curriculum was first offered at Penn State in 1902 under Jesse B. Churchill. This new curriculum was distinguished by its emphasis on integrated chemical processes, in which stoichiometry and material balances served as powerful practical tools or analysis.
In 1924, with formation of the new School of Chemistry and Physics, it became the chemical engineering curriculum, and the then-modern unit-operations approach to chemical process design and analysis was promoted with the aid of the new Walker, Lewis, and McAdams textbook.
Merrell R. Fenske
Early in 1929, Merrell R. Fenske (Sc.D., MIT, 1928) became associated with the School of Chemistry and Physics in a research and instructional capacity.
With distillation equipment of unprecedented design installed in Pond Laboratory, he began studies on the composition of the lower boiling point fractions of Pennsylvania crude oil.
Exciting results came quickly, industrial and government support proliferated, and in 1931 additional laboratory space was obtained in the Old College Power Plant. Those were the humble origins of the Petroleum Refining Laboratory, which soon gained international recognition.
The laboratory was strictly a research organization, staffed mainly with chemical engineers and chemists. As many as seventy were employed during World War II. Techniques developed in the Petroleum Refining Laboratory helped ensure an adequate supply of aviation gasoline, hydraulic fluids, and a variety of lubricants that were essential to the Allied war effort.
Donald S. Cryder
Chemical Engineering and chemistry were separated into two departments in 1948, with Donald S. Cryder (Sc.D., MIT, 1930) as head of the former.
The Petroleum Refining Laboratory and the Department of Chemical Engineering were merged in 1959 with Dr. Fenske as head. Dr. Fenske retired as department head in 1969.
Lee C. Eagleton
After a year long search for a successor, the department in 1970 named Lee C. Eagleton (D.Eng., Yale, 1951) as head.
During Eagleton's tenure, the department expanded its research interests to develop a broad-based chemical engineering program.
1983 to the Present
J. Larry Duda
Following the resignation of Eagleton as head in 1983, J. Larry Duda (Ph.D., Delaware, 1963) was chosen to head the department.
Under Duda, chemical engineering has moved strongly into some of the emerging areas of the eighties, most notably biotechnology.
Henry C. Foley
Duda was succeeded by Henry C. Foley (Ph.D. Penn State, 1982), who was appointed head in 2000.
On July 1st 2004, Dr. Foley was named Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Strategic Initiatives. Andrew Zydney, professor of chemical engineering, has been appointed interim department head of chemical engineering.
On July 1, 2005 Andrew Zydney (Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1985) replaced Henry Foley as Department Head.
Zydney joined the Penn State faculty in 2001 after serving as a chemical engineering faculty member at the University of Delaware. At Delaware, he was also the associate chair for undergraduate studies and previously served as the director of the graduate program in chemical engineering.
Home of Chemical Engineering from the creation of the department in 1924 until the building was demolished in 1969. The building was completed in 1890, during the university's first major building program. Walker Laboratory originally held the Chemistry and Physics Laboratory.
1890 is also the year William H. Walker graduated from Penn State in chemistry. He later received his Ph.D. in Germany and became the "father" of Chemical Engineering, which he started at M.I.T. in 1905.
Walker Lab was named for him and stood on the site of the current Davey Laboratory. This photo was taken around 1900 from Old Main Tower. The path in the bottom right of the picture is now Pollock Road.
The Entire College of Chemistry and Physics was housed in Walker Laboratory. The barns in the background sit along what is now Shortlidge Road. The Department of Chemical Engineering is currently located in Fenske Laboratory.