On May 14, 2017, 139 seniors graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering, four students received their master’s and five received their doctoral degrees. This year’s convocation was especially notable because the department invited graduate students to the ceremony. Following tradition, faculty advisors placed doctoral hoods over the heads of graduate students, marking their students’ successful completion of the program.
Dr. Elmer Dougherty delivered this year’s convocation remarks. A Kansas native, Dr. Dougherty earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1950 and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois in 1951 and 1955, all in Chemical Engineering. As a graduate student, he studied under the legendary Professor Harry Drickamer. After graduate school, he worked at Esso and Dow (where he wrote his first computer program in 1955), as well as Union Carbide and Chevron. Along the way he also formed two software companies.
In 1971, Dr. Dougherty joined academia and became a Chemical Engineering Professor at the University of Southern California. He retired from USC in 1995. He continues to be involved in his company, Maraco, an oil and gas software development firm that he established in 1979. He has consulted around the globe and he has written over 50 technical papers. A distinguished member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, he received its prestigious Cedric Ferguson Medal. In 2006, the University of Kansas Chemical Engineering Department inducted him into its Alumni Hall of Fame.
In his address, Dougherty told students that their integrity is a “badge of dependability and trust.”
“If you remember nothing else I say today, remember this. If your boss asks you a question and you do not know the answer, do not, I repeat, do not babble gibberish. Say, ‘I don’t know. But I’ll find out. When do you need the answer?’”
Dougherty advised students to continue honing their communication skills and to express ideas simply and concisely. He also told them that every day of their professional life, “a jury of your peers and superiors is judging you.”
“Before you act, remember your physics, chemistry, and engineering. Does it compute? If it doesn’t, reboot. You only succeed if you get things done, but you must consider the risk,” he said.
In his speech Dr. Dougherty also reflected on his time on campus and the excellent teachers he had, including chemical engineering giants James Westwater, Harry Drickamer, and Tom Hanratty.
“Go out and make your mentors proud of the results of this slice of their life’s work,” he advised.
Feng Sheng Hu, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, said students should be immensely proud of themselves for having succeeded in one of the most rigorous programs on campus, one with a longstanding record of excellence, home to award-winning teachers and researchers working at the forefront of their disciplines. As members of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, they are also joining a community of more than 160,000 alumni around the world, graduates who have distinguished themselves in business, medicine, research, and many other areas.
“Be a force for good and a strong advocate for your alma mater,” he said.
Department Head Dr. Paul Kenis said he and fellow faculty and staff wished students success in their pursuits and best of luck in their personal and professional lives. He also urged them to stay in touch with the department and he looked forward to hearing news of their accomplishments.
A reception was held in a tent on Centennial Plaza, between Noyes Laboratory and the Chemistry Annex.
The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is pleased to announce Dr. Elmer L. Dougherty, Jr. will be the convocation speaker for the May ceremony.
Convocation will be at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 14, 2017, in the Tryon Festival Theatre in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana. This year the department will celebrate undergraduates who are receiving bachelor degrees and graduate students earning master’s and doctoral degrees.
A reception will follow the ceremony in a tent on Centennial Plaza, the area between Noyes Laboratory and the Chemistry Annex, just east of the Quad.
Born in Kansas, Elmer Dougherty earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas in 1950 and his MS and PhD degrees from the University of Illinois in 1951 and 1955, all in Chemical Engineering. For his PhD adviser, the legendary Professor Harry Drickamer, he measured thermal diffusion in isomeric mixtures to understand small changes in composition caused by a temperature gradient.
Following stints with Esso, Dow (where he wrote his first computer program in 1955), Union Carbide, and Chevron (as well as forming two software companies) Dr. Dougherty became a Professor at University of Southern California in 1971. In 1960 while at Chevron and Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, he headed an engineering-mathematical project that developed a reservoir simulation program and applied it successfully to Aramco’s Safaniya Field in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. It was the first such application of what is now a standard fundamental tool for oil field operations. In 1980 while at USC, he formed and headed a team of engineers, economists and computer specialists to create a computer system for OPEC Secretariat that successfully modeled the cost of evolving and competing energy supplies and its impact on economic output in the world’s economic regions. Dr. Dougherty was on the faculty of the University of Southern California until his retirement in 1995.
He continues his involvement in computer applications via Maraco, Inc., an oil and gas software development firm he established in 1979. He has consulted around the globe– in Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya, The Netherlands, France, England—and has written over 50 technical papers.
Dr. Dougherty is a Distinguished Member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and is the recipient of its Cedric Ferguson and Jon Arps Awards. He has also lived long enough to be inducted into its Legion of Honor, which occurs automatically after 50 years of membership. He also has been a member of AIChE since his days as an undergraduate. In 2006 he was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame at the University of Kansas’ Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.
Congratulations to our December graduates!
The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering held a convocation ceremony on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, for its December graduates. The ceremony featured Illinois Chemical Engineering alumnus George P. Nassos, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1961.
The Chicago native graduated from Austin High School and attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier (now UI-Chicago) before transferring to Urbana-Champaign. After earning his BS in Chemical Engineering from Illinois, he went on to earn his MS and PhDs in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University.
Dr. Nassos worked for International Minerals & Chemical Corp. (IMC) for 16 years, during which he earned an MBA from Northwestern. He advised graduates who are interested in business and pursuing MBAs to do so while working so they can apply what they learned in class to their jobs.
After earning his MBA, he served as an adjunct professor in Loyola University Chicago’s MBA program until IMC transferred him to its European subsidiaries. Living and working in Europe was one of the best decisions he made, Dr. Nassos recalled in his convocation speech. It was in Europe where his interest in energy and the environment developed as he saw how Germany and other countries had already adapted technologies such as escalators that power on and off in response to users stepping on and off them.
After his time with IMC, Dr. Nassos worked for Chemical Waste Management, the hazardous waste subsidiary of Waste Management, where he developed treatment and disposal technologies such as fuel pellets from non-recyclable waste.
Next he pursued his interest in teaching at the graduate business school level. Dr. Nassos was named director of the top-ranked MS in Environmental Management & Sustainability program at the Illinois Institute of Technology Stuart School of Business. He taught the sustainability capstone course and authored the textbook, Practical Sustainability Strategies: How to Gain a Competitive Advantage. Dr. Nassos managed the program until he retired in 2011.
Currently he is principal of George P. Nassos & Associates, a consulting company focusing on environmental sustainability and renewable energy. Dr. Nassos also is president of Sustainable Energy Systems, which markets a new onsite waste-to-energy technology.
When people ask him if he’s retired or still working, “I say, ‘yes,’” Nassos said, prompting laughs at the ceremony.
“I still have my health, energy and passion for what I’m doing,” he told the audience.
Dr. Nassos urged the new graduates to have passion for what they’re doing and to remember they’re “only on this earth for so much time.”
“Time is your most valuable asset. Make the most of it.”
Some students have landed jobs with leading energy companies. Others will join international food and beverage companies. A number of other students will head to graduate schools this fall.
Faculty, family, friends and other supporters packed the Colwell Playhouse in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts Sunday to celebrate a record number of students graduating this spring from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. A total of 135 students received their bachelor degrees at the May 17 convocation.
Tom Tulig, a 1978 Illinois graduate and longtime Shell employee, was the featured speaker.
He urged graduates to seize opportunities, keep their perspectives, have perseverance, be optimistic, “and then enjoy the ride!”
“Along the way, be sure to both offer and accept support,” he said.
A Chicago native, Tulig graduated from Brother Rice High School and received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1983.
Tulig has been with the Royal Dutch Shell Group of Companies his entire professional career. His initial assignment was in the reaction engineering department at Shell’s Westhollow Technology Center in Houston. He has held multiple assignments in research and development, project development, and technical support to operations. He also has worked in central office business support and was a technology manager at the Deer Park Refinery and Chemical plant in Houston, Texas. He currently is the general manager for process development in Shell’s Projects and Technology organization. He oversees programs and people in Houston, Amsterdam, Bangalore, and Singapore.
Throughout his career, Tom has been a recruiter, campus visitor for the Shell Oil Foundation, and a member of the University of Illinois Engineering Advisory Committee.
During his speech, he recalled attending a workshop with a former Shell Oil board member who shared key principles of leadership. One concept, called “getting on the balcony,” left an impression on Tulig. When you’re engrossed in a battle, step up “onto the balcony,” or, away from the fray and ask three questions: What is happening? What is not happening? What can I do to influence the action?
“When confronted with serious challenges requiring your leadership, perhaps these few questions may help you assess the situation and allow you to influence the action to the positive,” Tulig said. “If life gives you a few lemons, make lemonade? Or maybe a crude electrochemical cell for us chemical engineering nerds?”
Barbara Wilson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, also spoke at the ChBE convocation. She reminded graduates to keep in touch with the campus and continue to share news of their careers with the department. And wear Illini colors.
“I want to see more orange on Michigan Avenue, in Times Square, and at the Great Wall of China,” Wilson said.
Students are headed to graduate schools such as the University of Texas at Austin and Columbia University and joining corporations such as Anheuser-Busch, Johnson Controls, the Kraft Heinz Company, Exxon and many others.