Trine University is proud to announce an esteemed alumnus and trustee emeritus was
honored by a national engineering organization during the recent celebration of his
John J. McKetta Jr., a 1937 graduate of Tri-State College, now Trine, was recently
honored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE). In celebration
of Dr. McKetta’s 100th birthday on Oct. 17 and in gratitude for all he has done for AIChE and the profession,
the organization’s Cumulative Giving Society has been renamed the John J. McKetta
Jr. AIChE Lifetime Giving Society.
It is not the first time he has been honored by having his name placed on a program.
In 1997, Trine named the Department of Chemical Engineering in his honor. In 2012,
University of Texas renamed its chemical engineering department for him.
“Dr. McKetta has long been a friend, supporter and trustee of Trine University and
we congratulate him for this latest accolade from the chemical engineering institute,”
said Earl D. Brooks II, Ph.D., Trine president. “His influence shows in many ways
on our campus and we all wish him well as he celebrates his first 100 years.”
In 2011, Dr. McKetta was named a Trine trustee emeritus for being the longest-serving
board member, with service from 1957 to 2011.
He received an honorary doctorate from Trine in 1967 and was named a distinguished
alumnus. In 2001 Dr. McKetta was given Trine’s highest honor, the Pillar of Success
Award recognizing his many achievements and accomplishments, leadership, service,
philanthropy and commitment to his community.
The annual McKetta outstanding teaching awards at Trine are also thanks to him.
He came to Trine after writing to more than 50 universities, asking for work during
the Great Depression. He heard back only from Tri-State College, which he has described
as a “little school in Indiana I read about in Popular Mechanics magazine.”
Dr. McKetta is an authority on thermodynamic properties of hydrocarbons and has served
as an energy adviser to U.S. Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan
and George H.W. Bush.
He earned a Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and doctorate at University of
Michigan. While there, he collaborated with Donald L. Katz, his doctoral advisor,
to develop a set of tables relating to underground temperature and pressure in gas
and oil wells that reveal the composition of the surrounding terrain. The tables are
still in use today.
In 1946 he joined the faculty at University of Texas, where he remained until retiring
in 1995. Dr. McKetta has served on the boards of directors of 16 different companies,
and his achievements and awards are numerous. In 1976 he won the Lamme Award as the
best engineering professor in the United States. In 1981 the International Chemical
Engineering Award was bestowed upon him as the top chemical engineer in the world.
In 1989 McKetta won the coveted Herbert Hoover Award for his services to society.
Dr. McKetta has been a member of AIChE since 1937 and has given more than $100,000
to the organization. The John J. McKetta Jr. AIChE Lifetime Giving Society honors
individual donors who have demonstrated remarkable leadership, generosity and commitment
to AIChE through their ongoing support of the AIChE Foundation’s activities. The society
is named for Dr. McKetta, a former AIChE president, fellow, trustee and one of the
profession’s most beloved and influential leaders, to emphasize the impact lifetime
giving makes in advancing AIChE and the chemical engineering profession.
He met his wife, the former Helen “Pinky” Elisabeth Smith in Michigan. They married
on his birthday, Oct. 17, 1943, after a six-month courtship. He told Michigan Engineering
at University of Michigan their marriage “must have been arranged in heaven because
we had 69 fantastic, wonderful years together before her death in 2011.”