Stanley A. Gembicki
Chief Technology Officer
BSChE '64

[Stanley A. Gembicki]

For his demonstrated excellence as an engineer and international technology leader in the chemical-process industry, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Stanley A. Gembicki.

On a major influence in his life

At Purdue there was a professor, Paul Shannon, who was a pioneer during the early days of large-scale chemical engineering computing. This was a relatively new area, and the potential was fascinating to me. Paul left Purdue when I was a junior and went to Dartmouth College, but we stayed in touch due to our mutual interests, and he recruited me to come to graduate school at Dartmouth. After I graduated from Dartmouth, I joined Digital Systems, the company that Paul had founded, to build chemical process simulations for industrial clients. However, due to the state of available computer hardware technology, we were ahead of the times in the development and acceptance of large-scale chemical process computer simulations. While this idea was not ready for broad commercial utilization in the early 1970s, the advent of desktop computing in the 1980s provided the right environment to establish mathematical modeling and large-scale process simulation as standard chemical engineering tools. I am proud to have been a part of this advance in our profession. What I learned from Paul, a systematic approach to solving complex problems, I continued to apply when I moved to the industrial R&D environment at UOP.

On his love for research and development

I always had a desire to work in an environment where you could test out new ideas, versus working in the more constrained manufacturing or operations arenas. Just working for UOP every day has been exciting because it is a global company whose whole business model and whole reason for existing is based on innovation. Every aspect of our processes and products-from invention and engineering to commercialization, licensing, manufacture and sale-depends on innovation that begins in our labs.

On international experience

Gembicki, old picture Working for UOP has provided me an opportunity to be involved with innovation that truly has an impact on a global scale. I have seen tremendous variations in culture across the world and have had a marvelous opportunity to interact with professionals from every corner of the globe. Our company has a pretty low profile-most consumers have no reason to be familiar with us at all-but we are responsible for such innovations as unleaded gasoline, catalytic processes for the production of building blocks for modern plastics, the process used to make most of the world's biodegradable detergents, and much of the basic technology which forms the modern petroleum refining and petrochemical industries. For emerging nations, as well as already industrialized ones, these are processes and innovations that truly revolutionize the way people live and work. I've been fortunate enough, through my association with UOP, to witness that on a global scale. We still provide new chemical engineers with global opportunities. After spending about three years in R&D training, they are sent all over the world to help start up processes that use our technology. China, India-all the Far East, actually-have the most significant new activity. We also have a sizable presence in Eastern Europe and South America. Developing countries are where major new markets exist for grassroots complexes.

How he has been a catalyst of change

The most fundamental change I sponsored was the creation of an integrated research and development operation at UOP. Until about five years ago, research and development were two separate functions. Technology commercialization-developing the prototype, testing the process in a pilot plant, and performing the conceptual engineering design-was the domain of our engineers. Research, where new chemistry ideas were conceived and initially tested, was basically run by our chemists. These two groups sometimes had different agendas and approaches that were barriers to progress. So I led the organization in a process that brought the research and development functions together in an effort to create a synergy that was only possible through continual collaboration and teamwork. The result has been a significant increase in the new technology output of the combined organization and a substantial decrease in the cycle time for new technology development.

1996- :
Chief Technology Officer, UOP. As first person to hold CTO title, heads company's combined R&D organizations in effort to enhance innovation required for growth.
Director of Research and Sponsor of Redesign of Research & Development Process. Redesigned basic R&D process to increase speed of technology commercialization.
Director, Process and Materials Research. Integrated two strong research cultures after R&D resources of Union Carbide were added to UOP.
Director, Process Research.
Manager, Separation Process Development. Directed the R&D and commercialization activities for UOP's separation process technologies, which have been widely applied.
Head, Catalyst Development, UOP. Directed development and manufacture of catalysts used for catalytic reforming, hydrocracking, and aromatics processing.
VP Engineering, Digital Systems Corp. Applied emerging computing tools to optimization of industrial chemical process networks.

BSChE '64, Purdue; PhD '69, Dartmouth.