McKetta Receives Research & Engineering Education Excellence Award

McKetta (left) receives the Donald L. Katz Award from GPA President Mike HeimJohn J. McKetta Jr., professor emeritus in chemical engineering and former dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, recently received the Donald L. Katz Award from the Gas Processors Association (GPA).

The award recognizes accomplishments in gas processing research and excellence in engineering education and was presented to McKetta during the organization’s annual convention in New Orleans on April 16.

“It was an honor for me it to present this award to Dr. John McKetta, and to have him in New Orleans to personally receive it,” said GPA president Mike Heim. “Like the namesake of this award, Dr. McKetta has contributed greatly to our industry through his educational and research efforts. Whether you know him personally, or by his reputation, Dr. McKetta is highly deserving of this most special GPA recognition.”

McKetta, the Joe C. Walter, Jr. Chair Emeritus in Engineering, taught at UT Austin for 44 years before retiring in 1990.  In addition to serving as dean of the Cockrell School, he served as department chair and executive vice chancellor of the entire university system. He is a world-renowned expert on the thermodynamic properties of hydrocarbons and developed the first accurate method for determining the temperature profile of a flowing oil or gas well, which improved production facilities.

At 96 he has published more than 454 technical articles and written or edited 94 books. He was co-editor of the 10-volume reference on Advances in Petrochemicals and Refining, which has been translated into nine languages, and in 2001 he completed the 69-volume Encyclopedia of Chemical Processing Design.

McKetta served as energy advisor to presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and Bush Sr. President Nixon appointed him chair of the National Energy Policy Committee, Reagan appointed him to the Acid Rain Precipitation Task Force and Bush Sr. placed him on the Congressional Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. He has acted as chair for the National Air Quality Management Committee and the National Hazardous Waste Committee, and was a founding member of the National Council for Environmental Balance. He is also a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

“John McKetta is the most popular and best-known chemical engineer in the world,” said Irwin Tucker, president of the National Council for Environmental Balance.

Despite a top-notch resume and countless awards to his name, McKetta is best known for his dedication to his students. In 1996 he pledged a $1 million gift to the Department of Chemical Engineering in support of students and asked alumni to match the amount, which they did enthusiastically. He also calls every one of his former students on their birthday after they turn 65.

“To me, in teaching, my students were always members of my family,” McKetta said. “There is a closeness between us that is closer than friendship. My intimate family and I have been so blessed with our extended family of students.  My students’ education, success and happiness have always been a priority, so I am honored to receive this award.”


About GPA:

The GPA has served the light hydrocarbons industry since 1921 as an incorporated nonprofit trade association. Corporate members are engaged in processing natural gas into marketable pipeline gas, volume movement, or further processing of liquid products from natural gas. Member companies represent approximately 92 percent of all natural gas liquids produced in the United States and operate about 190,000 miles of domestic gas gathering lines.

The Donald L. Katz Award is named in honor of the professor emeritus of the University of Michigan. It was initiated in 1985 to recognize outstanding accomplishments in gas processing research and technology, and for excellence in engineering education.


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