Readers Respond To Rosenzweig, Reminisce About ICI

March 6, 2009
Letters to the Editor

Column Clarifies Career Choice

I just wanted to thank Mark Rosenzweig for his column,  "Convince A Child to Explore 
Engineering" ( I have a 9-year-old daughter who has a strong desire to be either an engineer or scientist. I have always worked with her to learn to enjoy math, and have tried to stay ahead of her school learning when it comes to math.
I have come to realize that engineering is the field in which I want to be in as well. I have always been on the operations side of things and was fortunate enough to get a job with the nations largest biodiesel plant and have worked my way up to process specialist. Basically my role is as a process engineer without the degree. I have been researching what type of engineering I wanted to study and had narrowed it down to industrial and chemical engineering. The February issue of Chemical Processing has actually made up my mind to become a chemical engineer. So, thank you for your column and your magazine in helping make my decision.
Mike Prall, process specialist
Imperium Renewables, Aberdeen, Wash.

Robots Pave Path to Engineering

I enjoyed the column titled “Convince a Child to Explore

I would encourage you to check out a program called “F.I.R.S.T. Robotics” (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).  FIRST is an oOrganization that through a competition format puts students and engineers together to build a robot to compete.
I have been involved with a local team in Zeeland, Mich. (Team #85 B.O.B. [Built On Brains]) since 2001 and had the privilege to see several students go from having little to no interest in engineering to presuming a career in engineering after graduating from high school.
Here’s a link to the FIRST Web Site and Team #85’s Web site: Please
feel free to check them out or if you have any question you can contact me.
Randy Westrate, Town & Country Group
Zeeland, Mich.

Safety Board Could Tap Large Resource

Read with interest the column “Chemical Safety Board Gets Rebuke,” ( CSB are missing a large
resource in the number of retired chemical engineers who would love to participate in safety evaluations.

Richard Gauthe, Hovensa
Christiansted, St. Croix

ICI Helped Statisticians

I enjoyed the column, , “ICI Fades Into History,” ( In addition to your reflection, industrial statisticians remember ICI for publishing two early books on using statistics for chemical manufacturing. Prior to those, most statistics texts were for biology and crops.

Lynn Torbeck, Statistician to the pharmaceutical industry
Torbeck and Associates, Evanston, Ill.


Thanks for running the ICI obituary. My first job was with them 30 years ago in the U.S.A. headquarters in Wilmington, Del.  At that time the sun never set on the ICI empire. The depth and scope of their operations was unbelievable. The human talent was second to none.  However, ICI got caught up in the fad of down-sizing, right-sizing and even dumb-sizing and I was no more.  It is sad they down-sized themselves to oblivion, for it was a great waste of a diverse talent which crossed many fields and cross-fertilized ideas.
Karl Zipf, Delaware Department of Transportation
Dover, Del.

ICI Isn’t Alone

My first job out of graduate school was with Fiber Industries Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. This was the joint U.S. polyester and nylon fiber venture between Celanese and ICI. I had the opportunity to know first hand several of the wonderful ICI research people in the polyester business.

Your editorial reminded me of the very similar fate of Hoechst. After two years with FII, I moved on to work for the next 34 years in the Hoechst polyester business.  Hoechst underwent a very similar metamorphosis from being the biggest chemical company to nothing. All of its assets have been sold off to other companies or closed.

Sadly, I was recently on a river cruise on the Main River. We passed the old Hoechst site near Frankfurt, and, other than the special exit from the autobahn marked “Hoechst,” nothing else remains that belongs to Hoechst.  In your closing remark in the editorial, you could also have said, “The Hoechst name may disappear but the company’s legacy certainly will endure.”

In today’s business market, the future of all of the chemical companies always seems to be in a state of flux, and a new chemical or chemical engineer graduate should not count on working for the same company for his or her entire work life.

Wick Doll, PhD, Teijin Monofilament U.S.
Spartanburg, S.C.

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