William Hultz Walker

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William Hultz Walker (April 7, 1869 – July 9, 1934) was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., and graduated in 1890 at Penn State College and took his Ph.D. at Göttingen (1892). In 1894 he accepted the chair of industrial chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where from 1908 he was also director of the research laboratory of applied chemistry. Walker was vice president of the International Congress of Applied Chemistry in 1893 and president of the American Electrochemical Society in 1910. The New York Section of the American Chemical Society conferred on him its Nichols medal in 1908.

Pennsylvania U.S. state in the United States

Pennsylvania, officially the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is a state located in the Northeastern, Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The Appalachian Mountains run through its middle. The Commonwealth is bordered by Delaware to the southeast, Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, Lake Erie and the Canadian province of Ontario to the northwest, New York to the north, and New Jersey to the east.

Doctor of Philosophy Postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities in many countries

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.

University of Göttingen university in the city of Göttingen, Germany

The University of Göttingen is a public research university in the city of Göttingen, Germany. Founded in 1734 by George II, King of Great Britain and Elector of Hanover, and starting classes in 1737, the Georgia Augusta was conceived to promote the ideals of the Enlightenment. It is the oldest university in the state of Lower Saxony and the largest in student enrollment, which stands at around 31,500.



William H. Walker, as he is commonly referenced, was one of the pioneers of chemical engineering practice and principles in the United States. He was the first graduate in chemistry at Penn State in 1890. He earned an M.S. in chemistry from Penn State, and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Göttingen University, before returning to Penn State, where he served as an instructor in chemistry in 1892 - 1894. He moved to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1894, and in 1917 founded the School of Chemical Engineering Practice. [1]

Massachusetts Institute of Technology University in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Institute is a land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant university, with an urban campus that extends more than a mile (1.6 km) alongside the Charles River. The Institute also encompasses a number of major off-campus facilities such as the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Bates Center, and the Haystack Observatory, as well as affiliated laboratories such as the Broad and Whitehead Institutes. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. It has since played a key role in the development of many aspects of modern science, engineering, mathematics, and technology, and is widely known for its innovation and academic strength, making it one of the most prestigious institutions of higher learning in the world.

Although he was trained as a chemist, and worked as a chemistry educator, Dr. Walker was extremely influential in developing modern chemical engineering discipline. He is rightfully considered one of the founders of that discipline.

Professional life

Dr. Walker and Arthur Dehon Little formed Little and Walker, a partnership, in 1900, where Walker worked until 1905. He then returned to full-time academic work as an associate professor at MIT, in charge of the newly opened Research Laboratory of Applied Chemistry. [2] Little remained in business, which he incorporated as the Arthur D. Little, Inc. in 1909. Little and Walker maintained a professional relationship after dissolving the partnership. Little was active as member and chairman of the MIT Corporation Visiting Committees for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Little propounded the concept of "unit operations" to explain industrial chemistry processes in 1916. [2]

Arthur Dehon Little American chemist

Arthur Dehon Little was an American chemist and chemical engineer. He founded the consulting company Arthur D. Little and was instrumental in developing chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is credited with introducing the term unit operations to chemical engineering and promoting the concept of industrial research.

According to MIT, its Department of Chemistry first awarded seven bachelor's degrees in chemical engineering in 1891. These grew out of the development of Course X, which combined mechanical engineering with industrial chemistry. [3] In 1917 founded the School of Chemical Engineering Practice. [1] During this time, Dr. Walker remained in the Department of Chemistry. In 1920, MIT formed the Department of Chemical Engineering, chaired by Warren K. Lewis. In 1924, MIT awarded its first Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering. [3]

Warren Kendall Lewis was an MIT professor who has been called the father of modern chemical engineering. He co-authored an early major textbook on the subject which essentially introduced the concept of unit operations. He also co-developed the Houdry process under contract to The Standard Oil Company of New Jersey into modern fluid catalytic cracking with Edwin R. Gilliland, another MIT professor.

Walker collaborated with Warren K. Lewis and W. H. McAdams in writing the first American textbook of chemical engineering, Principles of Chemical Engineering, published in 1924. This incorporated the concept of unit operations, and became the standard textbook for chemical engineering for decades. [4]

AIChE William H. Walker Award

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has commemorated Dr. Walker by creating the William H. Walker Award for Excellence in Contributions to Chemical Engineering Literature, described as follows on the AIChE website:

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is a professional organization for chemical engineers. AIChE was established in 1908 to distinguish chemical engineers as a profession independent of chemists and mechanical engineers.

"The award is presented to a member of AIChE who has made an outstanding contribution to chemical engineering literature. The contribution may consist of a review, a history of the development of a process, a theoretical contribution, a research report, or other material of interest and importance to the chemical engineering profession. The recipient must be the author or co-author of an outstanding work in chemical engineering." [5]

The award has been presented every year from 1936 until the present.

Personal data

Walker was born in Pittsburgh to David H. and Anna Blair Walker on April 7, 1869. He died of a heart attack on July 9, 1934, while driving from Bangor, Maine to Boston, Massachusetts. [6]

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  1. 1 2 "Penn State Engineering: Chemical Engineering - History at Penn State". www.che.psu.edu.
  2. 1 2 "Arthur D. Little,Inc.: Exhibits: Institute Archives & Special Collections: MIT". libraries.mit.edu. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  3. 1 2 MIT Department of Chemical Engineering, "History of Chemical Engineering at MIT" Retrieved April 6, 2010
  4. The Encyclopedia of Earth. "Walker, William H. Accessed April 4, 2010.
  5. "William H. Walker Award for Excellence in Contributions to Chemical Engineering Literature". www.aiche.org.
  6. Bradley Dewey. William Hultz Walker (1869-1934). Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. 69, No. 13 (Feb., 1935), pp. 556-559