Photo of Donald L. Katz

Donald L. Katz

  • National Medal of Science
  • Engineering

For solving many practical engineering problems by delving into a wide group of sciences and making their synergistic effects evident.

Donald Katz put himself through the University of Michigan with a series of jobs ranging from cleaning offices to working in restaurants. Decades later, he would be recognized as one of the world’s leaders in several engineering fields.

Katz received a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1933, and spent three years with Phillips Petroleum in Oklahoma before returning to Michigan. There, he taught and eventually became chairman of the chemical engineering department. He authored or co-authored 10 books, including “The Handbook of Natural Gas Engineering,’’ which was published in 1959 and became the go-to manual of the field.

Katz was among several engineers who developed the new discipline of reservoir engineering. His research led to decreased costs and increased efficiency in gas storage. In 1959, he led two national studies probing the use of computers in engineering and engineering design education. He also chaired the committee that developed a hazard rating system for bulk cargo.

Active in his community, Katz served on the board of education for the city of Ann Arbor, Mich., and worked with the city’s council of churches.

By Robert Warren