Lewis Era (pre-1944)
B.S. Pursuing studies in chemical engineering at Berkeley before
the major officially existed, Benjamin C. Haile (Chem), whose parents
both went to Cal, cobbled together the coursework he found necessary to
go forward with the projects he was doing at Chevron while still a student
here. After graduation, during WWII, his work at Chevron focused on finding
ways to supply the Allies with oil products and, following Pearl Harbor,
he was given a secret assignment to design a toluene plant. While working
in his fifth-floor San Francisco office one day, the wind blew the key
document for this project from his desk and out the window; he sprinted
down five flights of stairs and caught the paper before it hit the ground
on Bush Street!
From 1957 until 1962, he worked on process design at Aerojet-General in
Sacramento, and then moved up to their Advanced Technology Division, where
he was involved in planning for future government projects such as the
moon shot and space shuttle. When Aerojet started laying off hundreds
of workers in 1965 (again, able to see which way the wind was blowing!),
he prudently accepted a job in their more solvent AETRON division in Covina.
There, he took over a project from fellow Berkeley alum Fred Kirkpatrick
(B.S. 1949 ChemE), developing a fluid bed process to produce 70% oxygen
from air using molecular sieves as the separating medium. The outcome
allowed him another year's funding for the project, during which he brought
the process close to commercial feasibility.
Throughout his long and colorful career, Ben has maintained a buoyant
optimism and a perennial appreciation for his many interesting experiences
Attended. Another note (in beautiful Blue and Gold ink) from a
G. N. Lewis Era Cal alum, Jack M. Rademacher (B.S. Materials Science
and Engineering): Given the newness of the chemical engineering field,
his studies at Cal were a hybrid, combining petroleum engineering and
chemistry. During the War, he served as a naval engineering office for
amphibious forces in the Pacific and Japan. Standard Oil was his first
post-war employer, followed by a consulting firm. He then opened his own
consulting practice, specializing in mechanical and chemical engineering.
After 33 years, he is retired and volunteers with local agencies working
on air pollution. He also teaches and writes for chemical engineering
courses at a local college.