Frederick C. Haas

For his record of outstanding accomplishments in manufacturing, engineering, and research, and for his strong leadership in solving safety and environmental problems in the paper industry, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Frederick C. Haas.

Senior Vice President
Westvaco Corporation
BSChE '57

Haas bust

On being a student

When I think back to my days as a student, what stands out is the great effort one had to put in to meet the demands of the classes. Some of the very specifics I was taught as a sophomore in chemical engineering still stick with me. More and more, I am convinced that if you understand fundamentals, you can attack any problem you face.


One of the great things about Purdue was that it provided excellent preparation for graduate school and industry. As a student, I had no thoughts about working in operations, management, or sales. I was preparing for a research career in industry. I worked every summer in a plant job or in engineering groups at Dupont or General Motors.

Young Haas bust

On his professional career

As I look back, I think the changes that occurred in my career were very unpredictable. Opportunities, challenges, and choices came along, and I was prepared to take the opportunities. There was very little planning on my part to get where I've ended up. I certainly never anticipated that so many doors would open up along the way.

Professors had a very big influence on my career. I was so impressed with Dr. Hank Van Ness that when he left Purdue and went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, I followed him. But when I got there, I worked under Dr. Alfred Nissan. After I graduated, Dr. Nissan went to be the research director at Westvaco. About three years later, he enticed me to come to Westvaco. I worked with him in research for a year, then moved into other functions at the company.

On education

In many ways, our educational system needs to be renovated and updated. From my own career, I have seen that a solid understanding of fundamentals is absolutely necessary in an education. In the computer age it's so easy to function without really grasping the fundamentals. We must have a very demanding educational system that rewards excellence. I think students will meet challenges if we give them challenges.

On international competitiveness

I'm concerned about how we maintain a truly world-competitive industry base here in the United States. We must have quality products that are second to none in the world. We must create them by being low-cost producers. We must accomplish all this by being good stewards of the environment and incorporating a balanced view. The decisions made in industry and government have to be balanced and based on good science.


Named senior vice president for research and engineering of the paper company Westvaco Corp. Responsible for research, engineering, environmental activities, purchasing, and traffic; is manufacturing staff liaison to company's major plants.

Led award-winning effort at Westvaco to address problems of dioxin abatement, resulting in technology that reduces dioxin emissions by 96%.

Vice president for research.
Corporate research director.
Managed plants in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina (Westvaco's largest plant). Introduced production coordination and optimization approaches to improve output.
Promoted to technical assistant to manager of Fine Papers Division.
Promoted to director of technical services.
Joined Westvaco Corp. as technical assistant to corporate research director. Served as technical service superintendent at Westvaco's Luke, Maryland, mill.
Research engineer, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory.

BSChE '57, Purdue; MS '59, PhD '60, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Advanced Management Program, Harvard, '78.