Title and Description Page
Early Years 1
Born in Weimar, Germany. Only child. Father expelled from job in Nazi Germany, sent to concentration camp, but back to help collect taxes after one week in camp. Moved to England for six months, on way to United States. Sponsored by Kurt Friedrichs, head of Courant Institute. Father certified public accountant, mother nurse in U.S. Did not play team sports. Liked to read.
High School Years 14
Chose to attend Forest Hills High School. Good at math. Liked science. Paul Brandwein, inspiring biology and chemistry teacher. Head of audio-visual squad. Relearned German.. Built crystal radio for honorable mention in Westinghouse Talent Search. Classes. Chess. Parental expectations. Interested in aeronautical engineering, but advised by Eric Schatzki not to study it; chose chemical engineering instead.
College Years 21
Advised by Friedrichs to consider University of Michigan; also needed to start in January. Initial impressions of Ann Arbor and the University. First roommate. Classroom experiences. Gave one of his libraries to Nigeria. Brymer Williams undergrad advisor. Rigorous curriculum with few electives. Stuart Churchill. Structure of classes and labs. Taught qualitative analysis during junior and senior years.
First Job and Graduate School Years 33
Accepted position with Shell Oil in Illinois. Hugh Guthrie, president of American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), his boss. Began as process engineer in lube oils department but went back to Michigan for a master’s degree. Drafted into U.S. Army and assigned to the Army Petroleum School. Six months at Caven Point, New Jersey; then back to Fort Lee, Virginia, where he taught petroleum technology. Back to Michigan as teaching fellow in chemical engineering and student in graduate program; Williams his friend and mentor. No difficulties being both student and faculty member. Publication on liquefaction of natural gas; gave presentation from preliminary exam to National Petroleum Supply Association.. Thirteen publications. Settled for third idea for PhD dissertation: zeolites. Married woman from Forest Hills High School. Family-oriented community. Football games, concerts. Became fraternity advisor. Looking toward industry. Developed interest in computers; published in journals. Ford Foundation grant. Developed program for liquid-liquid extraction. Claims to have been “in the right place at the right time.”
Leaving the Midwest 56
Finished PhD, began looking for job. Jobs scarce. Shell did not rehire those who had left. Began work on pilot unit in ethylene-propylene copolymers with Esso Research Laboratories in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. First child born just before he left Michigan. Wife a homemaker at the time . Balancing work and home lives. Analysis by hand as less technology. Kjeldahl method. Extrusion problems. After three years moved to New Jersey to be process engineer in Process Engineering Division of Esso Research and Engineering Company. Worked on hydrocracking; then polypropylene. Promoted to senior process engineer but quit to become associate professor at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (Poly). Again “in the right place at the right time,” he developed solid waste program while on garbage committee for New Providence, New Jersey. Solid waste interest eventually branched into general interest in environmental issues. Chairman of professional development committee of AIChE. National Science Foundation grant to help disadvantaged students study pollution. Two children. Vietnam War protests at Poly. Increased participation in AIChE to represent profession and to provide general knowledge to public; felt United States should have strong technical underpinning.
Years with Government 69
More interested in environmental problems. Up for promotion at Poly but left for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Found pollution areas fragmented; wanted to combine media. Describes work at Industrial Waste Treatment Research Laboratory; early work with oils; politics at Poly and in EPA. IWTRC moved to Cincinnati, Ohio; Lederman became head of program in Washington, D.C. Stayed one year, then headed back to New Jersey. Publications along the way to inform public about technology as well as policy. Shift from waste treatment to pollution control. Industry’s economic incentives as impetus for minimization, which yields recycling.
Private Sector Years 88
Four years at Research-Cottrell, improving and developing application of electrostatic precipitators. Trips to Japan for negotiation; managing crises. Permitting too onerous; no power plants being built. Superfund implemented;
hazardous materials becoming hot issue. Went to Roy F. Weston to consult on hazardous materials. Quoted on Love Canal; thought retroactivity of laws unconstitutional. Responsible for government contracts, especially technical assistance for emergency response and consulting. Strategic policy regarding hazardous materials. Preferred problem-solving to paper-pushing. Also active in Boy Scouts of America; his temple; tennis. Became chair of environmental division of AIChE to engage with and inform U.S. Congress. Changes in AIChE; expansion of chemical engineering into many other fields. Cecil Award. Kappe Award. Chemical engineering good preparation for environmental management and engineering. Public pressure, available money, willingness of industry led to environmental progress.
Back to Academia 102
New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey: Executive Director, Center for Environmental Engineering and Sciences (NJIT); Executive Director, Office of Intellectual Property; and Research Professor of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Policy. Responsible for all aspects of grants; managed patents and licenses; negotiated contracts; informally mentored students and junior faculty. Still consulting pro bono for National Research Council. Decontamination. Chemical weapons disposal. Hazardous materials experience, process engineering, and environmental knowledge in general provided expertise for nuclear weapons
Retirement and some general thoughts 105
After eight years at NJIT found replacement and retired. Felt only failure was
inability to get chemistry/chemical engineering department to work with civil/environmental department. Now on Science Advisory Board of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Though not formally trained in environmental science, he is remembered for and given awards for his environmental work. Feels cost-benefit analysis crucial, but life-cycle not considered; now not economically prepared for life-cycle analysis, perhaps never. Consistency necessary. Nuclear waste more dangerous than hazardous materials. Do the least harm but do not do nothing in order to avoid harm.