Carnegie Mellon University

In Memoriam - Gary J. Powers

September 18, 1945 - July 23, 2007

Gary Powers

Gary J. Powers, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, passed away on July 23, 2007. Beloved husband for 41 years of Susan (Whitman) Powers. Loving father of Becky (Tom) Musial, Ben (Rebecca) Powers, Nate (Suku) Powers, Alex Powers, Katie (Rolfe) Loomis) Powers, and Libby Powers. Proud grandfather of Thomas, Jake, Gabriel, William Musial and Indira Powers. Gary received degrees from the University of Michigan (BS ChE, 1967) and from the University of Wisconsin (PhD ChE, 1971). He served on the faculty of MIT before joining Carnegie Mellon in 1974.

Gary Powers was a leading researcher in process systems engineering. He did pioneering research in process risk assessment and in process synthesis. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Wisconsin, in a joint effort with Jeff Siirola, he developed the program AIDS for the automatic synthesis of process flowsheets using artificial intelligence techniques. He co-authored the text "Process Synthesis" with Rudd and Siirola, the first text in this area. Gary's seminal research contributions to safety analysis covered more than three decades. He developed new methods for efficiently generating detailed fault trees for quantitative risk assessment. He applied these methods in industry with great success, and in 1976 he founded the company Design Sciences, Inc. Gary developed theories and models for synthesis and evaluation of high integrity operating procedures, and novel approaches for the verification of real-time control systems combining chemical engineering models with software engineering techniques. For his contributions in the safety area, Gary Powers received the 2005 AIChE Norton H. Walton/Russell L. Miller Award in Safety/Loss Prevention.

Gary Powers was an outstanding educator at Carnegie Mellon. He taught the introductory course in chemical engineering emphasizing synthesis concepts. He also created unique laboratory experiments for chemical engineering undergraduates that emphasized process safety and environmental risk assessment, and used engineering fundamentals to address process and product development problems. Gary taught the safety course to undergraduate and graduate students, where he introduced students to concepts and techniques developed in his research. Gary was one of the most popular and well-liked teachers in the department. On several occasions he received the department's "Kun Li Award for Excellence in Education," which is selected by the graduating seniors.

Gary was uniformly loved and appreciated by his students and colleagues alike. He was always the smiling face in any group and was supportive of all those around him. He will be sorely missed. In his memory an undergraduate scholarship will be established. Donations may be sent for the Gary J. Powers Scholarship Fund, c/o Toni Mciltrot, Department of Chemical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-5488.