engineering - chestermiller

Interview with Engineer Chestermiller

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Meet a Mentor is a fun series to help you get to know your wonderful Mentors better.

Constructive questions and comments are welcome!

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!

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