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Warren G. Schlinger

Warren G. Schlinger

CHF Collections

  • Born: May 29, 1923, Los Angeles, California

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0259
Interview Date: July 24, 2002
Location: Pebble Beach, California
Interviewer: Arnold Thackray
No. of pages: 53

  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.


1944 B.S., Applied Chemistry, California Institute of Technology
1946 M.S., Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology
1949 Ph.D., Chemical and Mechanical Engineering, California Institute of Technology

  Professional Experience

California Institute of Technology

1949 - 1953 Instructor and Research Fellow

Texaco, Inc.

1953 - 1957 Chemical Engineer

Texaco, Inc.

1957 - 1961 Senior Chemical Engineer

Texaco, Inc.

1961 - 1969 Supervisor, Research

Texaco, Inc.

1969 - 1981 Manager

Texaco, Inc.

1981 - 1987 Associate Director, Gasification

Texaco, Inc.

1987 Consultant


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

Title and Description Page

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 Ph.D. 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 M.A. and Ph.D. 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.

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