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April 30th, 2013
[Updated: May 28, 2013 with photos.]Numerous AIChE members from academia and industry gathered Monday evening to honor the lifelong achievements and contributions of Dr. John McKetta, Jr., whose career touched the lives of literally thousands of young engineers. McKetta briefly shared highlights of his story with great wit, recounting his fascinating journey from Pennsylvania coal mines in the height of the Great Depression to a highly accomplished career in chemical engineering research and education. [caption id="attachment_65257" align="aligncenter" width="470" caption="L to R: AIChE President Phil Westmoreland, AIChE Executive Director June Wispelwey, and John McKetta, Jr."][/caption] Motivated by his dislike of the dangerous conditions of mining and inspired by the knowledge that coal could be used to produce chemicals, he sought out a chemical engineering program. He was warmly welcomed at Tri-State University in Anglola, Indiana (which is now Trine University and is home to the Dr. John J. McKetta Department of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering). This warm welcome and its life-changing effects were formative in his strong views on education and building meaningful mentoring relationships with students. Dr. McKetta's efforts have had a huge impact on chemical engineering and on AIChE and his contributions will continue to serve chemical engineering well into the future.