University of Delaware
Thomas F. Degnan Jr.

Alumni leader

Engineering alum elected to National Academy of Engineering


10:44 a.m., Feb. 21, 2013--A University of Delaware chemical engineering alumnus noted for his contributions to novel catalytic processes for improved lubricant, fuel and petrochemical production has been elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering (NAE).

Thomas F. Degnan Jr., manager, breakthrough and leads generation at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Co. in Annandale, N.J., is among the NAE’s 69 new members and 11 foreign associates recently announced in a press release

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Academy membership is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. It honors Degnan as an individual who has made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education. Since its founding in 1964 only a total of 2,250 U.S. members and 211 foreign associates have been elected to the NAE.

Degnan, who earned his doctoral degree in chemical engineering from UD in 1977, has spent most of his career in exploratory process development, catalysis, catalyst development and research management for Mobil and now ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company.

He currently chairs the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering’s Advisory Council at UD.

Stanley Sandler, who nominated Degnan for NAE membership, remembers him as an excellent graduate student who went on to great success at Exxon-Mobil.

“He has been an extremely pleasant person to interact with, and he continues to contribute to the University and our department, especially now in his role as head of our external Advisory Committee,” said Sandler, H.B. du Pont Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, who is also a member of NAE.

Degnan earned a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame. He also holds a master of business administration in finance from the University of Minnesota.

He has won a number of awards, including the American Chemical Society’s Heroes in Chemistry (2007) and Industrial Chemistry (2012) awards; the American Institute of Chemical Engineering Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Division award (2010), and the North American Catalysis Society’s Frank Ciapetta Lectureship award (2012).

He is a member of the North American Catalysis Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Chemical Society and the Research and Development Council of New Jersey.

UD’s College of Engineering has six faculty and emeritus faculty who are members of the NAE: Babatunde A. Ogunnaike, interim dean and William L. Friend Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (2012); David L. Mills, Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering (2008); Mark Barteau, Robert L. Pigford Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (2006); Dominic Di Toro, Edward C. Davis Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering (2005); Stanley I. Sandler, H.B. du Pont Chair of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (1996); and T.W. Fraser Russell, Allan P. Colburn Professor Emeritus of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (1990).

Article by Karen B. Roberts

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