National Academy of Engineering, Volume 2
Tribute Author
Membership Directory
PublisherNational Academies Press
ReleasedAugust 21, 1984
Memorial Tributes: National Academy of Engineering, Volume 2

Honoring the deceased members and international members of the National Academy of Engineering, this volume is an enduring record of the many contributions of engineering to humankind. This second volume of Memorial Tributes covers the period from January 1979 to April 1984.

Honoring the deceased members and international members of the National Academy of Engineering, this volume is an enduring record of the many contributions of engineering to humankind. This second volume of Memorial Tributes covers the period from January 1979 to April 1984.

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    EDWARD JOHN GORNOWSKI, retired Executive Vice-President of Exxon Research and Engineering Company, died at his home on December 19, 1983. We have lost a valued member and a trusted friend. Our sympathy goes out to the family he cherished and made a prime focus for his life. An engineer of great skill and the utmost integrity, he remains an inspiration to all who were privileged to work with him.

    Ed Gornowski was born on February 27, 1918, in Wilmington, Delaware. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in chemical engi­neering from Villanova University in 1938 and went to work for Pyrites Co., Inc., in Wilmington. He soon decided that he would like a more thorough grounding in the fundamentals of his craft and enrolled in the Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania where he obtained a Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 1943. His ties with both Villanova and Pennsylvania were strong and lasting. He provided both institutions with sound advice while serving on numerous committees and advisory boards, including an eight-year stint as a member of the Board of Overseers at Pennsylvania. His services and accomplishments were recognized by Villanova when it awarded him the J. Stanley Morehouse Award in 1979 and an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree in 1983.

    As a freshly minted Ph.D., Ed Gornowski joined Exxon's Research Laboratories in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at a time of intense activity during World War II. He was a member of the team that took the fluid catalytic cracking process through a rapid series of expansions, new designs, and innovations in response to wartime needs for aviation fuel. His contributions to the team effort were in the area of chemical process engineering and centered around the understanding of the intricate relationships among the many independent variables in this complex process.

    At war's end Dr. Gornowski transferred to Exxon's R&D affiliate in New Jersey. From 1945 to 1964 he was involved in the develop­ment of a wide variety of new and improved petroleum processes. He guided the preparation of exploratory engineering designs and the programming and evaluation of laboratory/pilot plant opera­tions. Specific accomplishments included advances in catalytic reforming, in gasification of carbon solids, and in the technology of fluidized solids. Dr. Gornowski's contributions in catalytic reform­ing are particularly worthy of note. This process, which converts saturated hydrocarbons into aromatics, has become a prime factor in petrochemicals manufacture and in the production of high-octane gasoline. It is of particular significance currently as the most eco­nomical means for obtaining high-octane gasoline without the use of tetraethyl lead . Dr. Gornowski's contributions in this area included a key technique for restoring the activity of the currently used noble metal catalysts. His steady rise in the organization during this period-from Engineer to Deputy to the Vice-President-was in recognition of his contributions to these and other pioneering activi­ties. His technical contributions are exemplified by the fourteen patents granted in his name.

    In 1964 Dr. Gornowski was appointed Manager of Chemical Products at Exxon's Bayway Refinery in Linden, New Jersey, where he was responsible for all aspects of the operation of a variety of plants in a major petrochemical complex. His success in handling that assignment led the following year to his appointment as Man­ager of the Coordination and Planning Department of the parent corporation in New York. In this post Dr. Gornowski was responsible for a number of critical corporate activities, including the devel­ opment of long-range plans and the preparation of energy supply and demand forecasts.

    From 1966 to 1969 Ed Gornowski served in London, England, as Vice-President, Operations, of Esso Europe, Inc., and was responsi­ble for coordination of the manufacturing, supply, transportation, and research activities of the fourteen national European operating organizations that comprise Esso Europe. During his tour of office in London, Dr. Gornowski handled superbly the drastic dislocations in petroleum supplies for Europe following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the subsequent closure of the Suez Canal.

    In 1969 he returned to New Jersey as Executive Vice-President of Exxon Research and Engineering Company, a position he held until his retirement in 1981. Dr. Gornowski shared with the President full responsibility for directing the activities that provide research and engineering services for worldwide affiliates of Exxon Corporation. This involved leadership of some 2,000 scientists and engineers engaged in work ranging from basic research to management of construction projects. His background of personal technical contri­butions, his judgment and personal integrity, and his demonstrated skill in organizational leadership amply qualified him to lead one of the world's large organizations devoted to pioneering and applying technical developments.

    In addition to his enormous contributions to Exxon's technology and operations, Ed Gornowski devoted substantial effort to the furtherance of his profession and of society in general. This was recog­nized by his election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1971 and his being elevated to the rank of Fellow in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1973 and in the American Associ­ation for the Advancement of Science in 1978. He served on a large number of panels of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Sciences, and National Research Council, and for five years was a guiding force on the Committee on Nuclear and Alter­ native Energy Systems (CONAES). He was an active member of the Office of Science and Technology's Energy R&D Overview Panel, the President's Energy R&D Advisory Council, the New Jersey Council of Graduate Education, of many committees of the Industrial Research Institute and of advisory boards for Caltech and the Institute of Gas Technology.

    In 1983 Ed Gornowski served the State of New Jersey as a mem­ber of the Governor's Management Improvement Plan, acting as the principal industry consultant in an analysis of management and budget practices at Rutgers University. He received a citation from Governor Kean for his contributions.

    Edward Gornowski was a superb engineer and more. He was a superb human being, always ready to provide support and guid­ance, a man of loyalty and dedication, a man of great honesty. He faced life squarely, enjoying its successes and overcoming its unavoidable problems. He left us better for having known him.

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