engineering - chestermiller

Interview with Engineer Chestermiller

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Today we meet: @Chestermiller

Give us a brief history of Chestermiller
Born Jan., 1942, Brooklyn, NY
Samuel J. Tilden HS, graduated June 1959 (Capt. Math Team)

Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, graduated June1963, BChE
(Freshman Math Award)

University of Michigan, MChE, 1964
Married 1965, 4 children, 10 grandchildren
University of Michigan, PhD ChE, 1967 (Advisor Joe D. Goddard)
E. I. DuPont De Nemours Inc., 1967 – 2002 (Retired 2002)
Collaboration in Biomechanics with V.C. Mow, Columbia Univ., 2003 – 2004
Consulting 2003 – 2008

In addition to the above, my wife and I are animal advocates and sports fans. We support animal humane organizations and have done volunteer work in the past. Our favorite sports teams at the Baltimore Orioles, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the University of Michigan. MICHIGAN: GO BLUE.

Have you always lived in Delaware?
Brooklyn, NY, 1942 – 1963
Silver Spring, MD, Summer 1963
Ann Arbor, MI 1963 – 1967
Wilmington, DE 1967 – present

What do you find interesting about Delaware?

  • Family living nearby
  • Nice variable climate year round
  • Cultural and sports opportunities in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore

Why did you choose chemical engineering as your field of study?
Just lucky circumstances. I was interested primarily in math in HS, and engineering was a distant second choice. During senior year, I had applied to colleges for both math and engineering. After taking the entrance exam to Cooper Union (very competitive) and being accepted, I decided to go with engineering. I have never regretted this choice. I have found the science part of engineering totally fascinating and enjoyable, and would have missed out on this if I had specialized in math. In retrospect, I think I would have hated being a mathematician.

What were some of your biggest challenges in school and how did you overcome them?
I don’t remember any major challenges with science and math courses (although I hated HS chemistry, and did have to really cram at the end to get the highest grade on the final and a high grade in the course; up to then, I had been failing).

Humanities and English courses were always a weak area for me. In HS, I memorized a book of master plots and a composition (I guessed the topic of the composition) so that I could pass the English final. Otherwise, I just tried to do the minimum to pass. Later, my writing skills improved during my professional career, when I gained experience in communicating with regulators on environmental issues.

Tell us about your career in engineering

During my career at DuPont, I specialized in developing mathematical models for physical systems to improve company processes and products, and to protect company interests with regard to environmental issues. Colleagues in DuPont referred to me as “the guy who could model anything.” Here are some of the areas in which I worked:

  • 1D and 2D models of atmospheric chemistry and transport in connection with the fluorocarbon/ozone issue and global warming.
  • Modeling flow, transport, and chemistry in porous subsurface geological formations in connection with deepwell disposal of hazardous wastes. Poroelastic modeling to evaluate potential for triggering seismicity in deepwell injection operations.
  • Modeling structural mechanics of radial tires in support of nylon and Kevlar tire cord sales
  • Modeling cyclohexane oxidation process to produce adipic acid for nylon manufacture
  • Modeling ammonia synthesis loop
  • Nylon and Dacron process modeling, including polymerization reactors and transfer lines
  • Modeling man-made fiber spinning operations, including melt spinning (Nylon, Dacron), dry spinning (Lycra), and wet spinning (Kevlar)
  • Modeling unsteady state melt spinning of paint brush bristles

One of the things I enjoyed most about my career was personal interactions with colleagues (both inside and outside the company), and interactions with regulators.

What music do you play and what instrument
I took piano lessons from age 8 to age 16, and even played piano 2 summers as a member of the house band at two Catskill Mountains resort hotels. I stopped taking lessons at age 16 because it was becoming too time consuming, and interfering with my HS studies. Between ages 16 and 55, I hardly played piano at all, but took it up again when a friend loaned me an instructional video on Blues piano. I had always liked blues, and found that I could learn to play blues pretty easily. Everything I learned as a teenager came back to me. Since then, I have been playing blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and pop music, and taking blues/jazz lessons to improve my musicianship and learn broader styles. I am also in a ballroom dance band (which is lots of fun).

What are some of your favorite movies, books and musicians?
Cousin Vinnie, Little Shop of Horrors, The Right Stuff, All the President’s Men, Manhunter, School of Rock, JFK, GoodFellas, A Few Good Men, Jaws

B. B. King, Muddy Waters, Professor Longhair, Elmore James, Dr. John, Otis Span, Oscar Peterson, Katie Webster, John Lee Hooker, Johnny Johnson, Beach Boys, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Susan Tedeschi, Daryl Davis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry

If you could have lunch with a living person, who would it be and why?
B. B. King: I think his music is great, and he’s one of the few original blues guys still alive. Plus, he’s led such an interesting life, and had personal contact with all the blues greats.

How did you happen upon Physics Forums and why is it important to you?
I had seen many interesting TV shows on Relativity, and decided to learn it on my own during my retirement. I was looking for a place where I could get some of my questions answered. Then I looked over the other forums and thought it would be rewarding to help people struggling with physics, chemistry, and engineering concepts. I wanted to give something back to my profession. Now I’m addicted to it.

Thanks for participating Chestermiller!

26 replies
  1. Danger says:
    Chestermiller

    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all the responders to my Bio for their kind comments. You're all wonderful.Oh, sure… go ruin the mood with sincerity… :rolleyes:

  2. Danger says:
    RonL

    Hi Danger,
    Chester and I will both be 72 in December, but he will be 73 in January, just so you know you are a "young whippersnapper":D
    Well maybe just a youngster, online dictionaries are great to confirm a meaning, I should have looked first:oops:I see no reason why; it's an appropriate term for me. (Well, not so much the "young" bit, but compared to you two… well… it's rare to belong to a club of which the the sole membership requirement is the need to scrape the dinosaur crap off the the stone tablet to read your birth certificate… :p)

  3. RonL says:
    Danger

    Wow, you're old! oo)

    Sorry, but I really don't have many opportunities to say that. Most people older than me are dead. :D
    I might PM you (if I can figure out how in this new format) sometime in the future, because I would really love to pick your brain regarding both polymerization reactions and fibre spinning to see if I could actually build something that I partially invented 40 years ago but didn't have the resources to carry on with. Since I have both ADD and a total lack of ambition, it might be quite a ways down the line.Hi Danger,
    Chester and I will both be 72 in December, but he will be 73 in January, just so you know you are a "young whippersnapper":D
    Well maybe just a youngster, online dictionaries are great to confirm a meaning, I should have looked first:oops:

  4. collinsmark says:
    Chestermiller

    OK. How do we do a blues duet over our iPhones, iPads, or computers?

    Chet

    WannabeNewton

    No idea haha I'm not even slightly tech savvy, but that would be an absolutely awesome thing to try and do!Latency is the monster under the rug. You need to find a communication system/channel with as low latency as possible. If you happen to be located at opposite sides of the planet, then there's over 60 ms of delay due to the speed of light alone (ignoring other causes of latency). That could be enough to cause frustration when trying to synchronize a common rhythm. [Edit: Then again, Delaware to Massachusetts(?) isn't so bad light wise. Just make sure to use some sort of Skype/VoIP version with small buffers.]

    [And I'd avoid wireless systems (even avoid WiFi if you have an alternative). There are some tradeoffs in these systems between latency and throughput. And in this case, low latency is more important than connection speed measured in bits/sec].

    [Another edit: Oh, and my goodness I almost forgot about the monsters in the walls and ceiling: Echos and echo cancellation algorithms. Wear headphones to listen to each other (to eliminate echos via brute force). If your Skype/VoIP program gives you the option to disable echo cancellation, disable the feature. While echo cancellation algorithms can eliminate echos, they also have a tendency to mute or partially mute one or both of the parties; not good if you are trying to both play and listen at the same time. (And a special bonus, disabling echo cancellation might even provide a small latency reduction.)]

  5. Chestermiller says:
    lisab

    Very interesting career – this especially caught my eye:

    Did you foresee the seismic activity in Oklahoma due to fracking, or did you study it after it started happening?Hi lisab. After thinking about your question for a couple of days, I had the some thoughts.

    In my judgement (for whatever that's worth), fracking was probably not the cause of the seismic activity in OK. The reason I feel that way is that fracing is a very localized disturbance around a well, and the pressure buildup used to frack does not last very long.

    On the other hand, secondary oil recovery operations are widespread in OK. In secondary oil recovery operations, water is injected into an array of wells at high pressure in order to drive the oil toward a production well. The elevated pressures persist over long periods of time, and cover a large geographical area. This is a much more likely cause of the seismic activity. Currently, to my knowledge, there are no regulatory limitations on the magnitude of the injection pressures that can be used.

    Chet

  6. Danger says:
    WannabeNewton

    No idea haha I'm not even slightly tech savvyMe neither, but I have a sneaking suspicion that something incorporating MIDI ports and Skype might be in the offing…

  7. WannabeNewton says:
    Chestermiller

    OK. How do we do a blues duet over our iPhones, iPads, or computers?

    ChetNo idea haha I'm not even slightly tech savvy, but that would be an absolutely awesome thing to try and do!

  8. Chestermiller says:
    WannabeNewton

    I love your taste in music! Each musician you listed just so happens to be a personal favorite of mine as well haha.Do you play an instrument? I thought at one time I saw an avatar with a guitar.

    Chet

  9. Maylis says:

    Best mentor on PF! It is especially great for me being a chemical engineering major to have a mentor that is also a chemE. We are definitely not in the majority on this forum, or anywhere for that matter :(

  10. Danger says:
    Chestermiller

    Help!!! I'm a 21-year-old trapped in a 73 year old body.:DD

    And I'm a 10-year-old trapped in a 90-year-old body, even though I'm chronologically 58. I have yet to figure out how that works.

  11. Chestermiller says:
    lisab

    Very interesting career – this especially caught my eye:

    Did you foresee the seismic activity in Oklahoma due to fracking, or did you study it after it started happening?I'm not familiar with the seismic events in Oklahoma that you refer to.

    Federal regulations specifically forbid hazardous waste injection at pressures high enough to cause fracturing. They also prohibit injection at pressures high enough to activate preexisting faults and fractures (that formed over geological times).

    Chet

  12. Danger says:

    Wow, you're old! oo)

    Sorry, but I really don't have many opportunities to say that. Most people older than me are dead. :D
    I might PM you (if I can figure out how in this new format) sometime in the future, because I would really love to pick your brain regarding both polymerization reactions and fibre spinning to see if I could actually build something that I partially invented 40 years ago but didn't have the resources to carry on with. Since I have both ADD and a total lack of ambition, it might be quite a ways down the line.

  13. lisab says:

    Very interesting career – this especially caught my eye:
    Poroelastic modeling to evaluate potential for triggering seismicity in deepwell injection operations.Did you foresee the seismic activity in Oklahoma due to fracking, or did you study it after it started happening?

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