Skip to main content

News & Events

Class of 1966 Reunion

From left: Clay Radke, Dan Evans, Rich Eger, Nick Dobos

The Department of Chemical Engineering hosted the first-ever 50th reunion and welcomed back the class of 1966 to the Benson Hall.

The reunion was held on June 9 in conjunction with the Chemical Engineering Graduation. From the class of 1966, Nicholas DobosRich EgerClayton Radke and Dan Evans were in attendance as well as Dan’s spouse Sharon Bergman, Chair Emeritus Charles Sleicher, Emeritus Prof. Bill Heideger, Professor John Berg and Department Chair François Baneyx.

In recognition of 50 years of accomplishments, Chair Baneyx presented members of the Class of '66 with commemorative “stoles of gratitude” and recognized them by name during the graduation ceremony that followed.  

From left: Nick Dobos, Rich Eger, Dan Evans, Clay Radke, Dennis Strenge (unable to attend)

The conversation started with the whereabouts of former classmates and moved on to recollection of fond memories. Like many chemical engineers, they had stories of how they got into trouble by letting their creativity run a little bit too far.  

François Baneyx, Dan Evans, Rich EgerDan Evans recalled the time when fire erupted in a lab. “It shot up all the way on the walls! The TA almost broke his leg trying to extinguish the fire,” said Evans who later addressed the Class of 2016 at the ChemE commencement.

Nick Dobos remembered the time when his lab members were fined for “magically missing” ethanol. “The TA told us, ‘Don't drink it – it’s 200 proof and you’d be dehydrated.’ but we made Hawaiian punch with it anyway,” Dobos said.

Nick DobosClayton Radke chimed in with his story about an incident in a physics chemistry lab when an air hose exploded with perfect timing as the chair of the Chemistry Department was walking through with dignitaries. “Oh the Chair did not like that at all…” Radke said. “Then the Chair said, ‘It’s ChemE again!’”

Having shared their troublemaker stories, the group compared today’s chemical engineering education with theirs.

John Berg, Clay Radke“I used to constantly take things apart and that’s part of how I learned to be an engineer,” Baneyx said. “You can’t really do that with iPhones today.”

Radke told a story about a former graduate student who worked as a truck driver. One day, he called Radke that his truck died and he was stuck on the road. “But guess what? He fixed the blown up engine himself and drove back.” “Having a sense of things – it’s important for engineering thinking.” Without computers, Google, or even calculators in the 60’s, students relied heavily on math skills until it got “into the psyche.” 

Group enjoying the younger selves' photosAll agreed that today’s students are much savvier in finding information. "The quality of students is as high as ever," said Prof. Berg, who celebrates his 52nd year of teaching this year. “There is almost no one in my class who does poorly.”

The event included a surprise from Berg who invited the guests to the recently inaugurated John C. Berg Interfacial and Colloid Science Lab. Cheers and laughter erupted as the group walked into the lab and saw the headshot photos of younger selves posted on the board.

We look forward to sharing the memories of the class of 1967 next year. 

By Shoko Saji
Photo credit: Le Zhen