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“My obsession is the energy situation,” says inductee Thomas F. Edgar. “I teach a class at UT on energy policy and technology, have read several books by Tom Friedman recently and I also like The End of Oil by Paul Roberts.” Another twisty path?
Maybe so, but for the past 35 years, Edgar has concentrated his academic work in process modeling, control and optimization. He has published over 200 articles and book chapters in those fields applied to separations, chemical reactors, coal combustion and gasification, and semiconductor manufacturing. He has supervised the thesis research of over 42 M.S. and 60 Ph.D. students. He also co-directs the Texas-Wisconsin Modeling and Control Consortium, which involves 12 companies.
Currently, Edgar is the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Chemical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where he began teaching in 1971.
“I was a founder of the minority engineering program at UT in the 1970s,” Edgar says, “and we now have the third largest enrollment of minority engineers in public universities.”
Edgar has co-authored the textbooks Coal Processing and Pollution Control Technology (Gulf Publishing, 1983), Optimization of Chemical Processes (McGraw-Hill, 1988 and 2001) and Process Dynamics and Control (Wiley, 1989 and 2004).
Most of his peers, in the comments that accompanied their ballots this year referred to Process Dynamics as “the bible of process control theory.” The book received the 1990 American Society of Engineering Education Meriam-Wiley Award as the top engineering textbook, and it has been used at over 60 universities in the U.S.
He was the lead author for the Process Control section for the last two editions of Perry’s Chemical Engineering Handbook.
Edgar was an early adopter of computing technology, and serves as Executive Officer of the Chemical Engineering Education Corporation, a non-profit corporation dedicated to furtherance of computer-aided undergraduate education in chemical engineering.
A past Director of AIChE, Tom was elected Vice President of AIChE for 1996 and President for 1997. He is Chair of the AIChE Foundation. He also served for two years as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Council for Chemical Research. He was founding general editor of the technical journal, In Situ, and has participated on six editorial boards and five university advisory committees.
Tom hasn’t spent his whole career in academia. He has also been a consultant to several companies, including AMD, Texas Instruments, Emerson Process Management and Chemstations.
Married to retired IBMer Donna, the Edgars have two children and a passel of grandchildren. They divide their time between Austin and their ranch, 125 acres located 60 miles north of Austin. They are musical omnivores, rabid golfers and doting grandparents.
Tom’s history of giving back to the community includes running a youth soccer league in the 1980s and running a food pantry for his church.
|THE SAFETY EXPERT|
Summers: Environmental to safety systems guru.
“When I entered the first grade,” says Angela Summers, our third inductee, “it was the first year of integration for the Jackson Public Schools.” Growing up in Jackson, Miss., gave Summers a keen understanding of the value of flexibility and being able to adapt to changing conditions. “It was a lot of disruption and do-overs,” she says, “as they learned to get it right.”
After graduation from high school, Angela and her mother both headed to junior college, graduating together with honors.
“I never consciously decided to be in process automation or safety systems,” she says, “and it seems like whenever I decide to go do something else, I get dragged back into it.”
She got a degree in Chemical Engineering from Mississippi State University because she wanted to teach and along the way got interested in environmental engineering. She did her master’s degree in environmental systems engineering, and was working for Ethyl Corporation when the Phillips refinery next door exploded. “I was always aware of safety issues,” she says, “Bhopal happened when I was in elementary school, and the Phillips refinery explosion made me think about all the people my own age who were injured and killed.”
She went on to get her doctorate from the University of Alabama, and began working for ENSR Development doing environmental remediation work. But that didn’t last.
“I knew that the environmental movement was drying up, and I was worried about my future. I answered an ad in the newspaper and joined Triconex as a senior risk analyst, and became manager of risk assessment services.”
From there, she became involved with the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center, the ISA Standards Board and the SP84 Safety Standard, and became one of the United States representatives on the IEC 61508 and 61511 committees.
Angela holds, either alone, or with a co-inventor, nine patents in the area of safety systems hardware and software.
Since 1999, she’s been president and CEO of safety instrumented systems consultancy SIS-Tech Solutions. She also is President of SIS-Tech Applications, the product development arm of SIS-Tech.
She gives back for all the mentoring she’s received from her colleagues in the safety instrumented systems field by teaching a master’s class in environmental health and safety for the University of Houston-Clear Lake. “I tell my classes that I don’t do this for the money, but because I like it, and if they pretend they like it too, and are having fun, we might actually have some during the semester,” she says.
Married for fifteen years, and with a succession of Yorkshire Terriers as furkids (the current officeholders are “Lily, with one ‘l’” and Rosemary), she and her husband are actively developing a winery and vineyard near Yamhill, Ore. “You can plan for your retirement by buying stocks and bonds, but we decided to invest in land,” she says. “And when we retire, I get to run the wastewater treatment plant. I’m going to have a set of sequential bioreactors!”
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