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Chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering

Professor Emeritus



Leon Kowalczyk was born in Motycz, Poland in May 1908. He attended high school in Lublin, Poland and then did his undergraduate work at the Technical University of Warsaw (now the Warsaw College of Engineering) where he was awarded a degree in chemical engineering in 1931. His graduate work was also conducted at the Warsaw College of Engineering. He received his Doctor of Science in Engineering in 1935.
From 1932 until 1939, Dr. Kowalczyk served as a part-time assistant lecturer in the Chemical Engineering Department at Warsaw College of Engineering. With the coming of World War II, Dr. Kowalczyk entered the Polish Army and served under British command as a tank squadron leader with the rank of major. He was wounded four times and decorated by both the British and French, including the Croise de Guerre. He left the army in 1947.
Dr. Kowalczyk left Poland after the war to evade the Russians, who had imprisoned him in 1939 when they and the Germans invaded Poland. In London, Dr. Kowalczyk became an assistant professor of chemical engineering and vice chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department at the Polish University College of London.
In 1950, Dr. Kowalczyk came to the United States and accepted a position teaching in the Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Detroit as an assistant professor. In 1952 he was promoted to associate professor, and in 1955, full professor. By 1957, Dr. Kowalczyk was vice chairman of the Chemical Engineering Department and was named chairman in 1960. Dr. Kowalczyk returned to England as a visiting professor in June of 1970 to deliver 22 lectures on Catalytic Kinetics and Reactor Design to graduate students at the University of Birmingham.
Dr. Kowalczyk was well published, appearing in chemical engineering journals in Poland and the United States throughout his career. Some of his articles include: “Heat of Reaction of Ammonia Synthesis as a Function of Pressure and Temperature,” 1933; “Yield of Ammonia Synthesis Under High Pressure,” 1934; “Economy of Materials in Ethanol Industry,” 1935; “An Attempt to Explain the Ammonia Synthesis by Fauser’s Method,” 1935 – all of which appeared in Przemysl Chemiczny (Chemical Industry). In this same journal, Dr. Kowalczyk published six articles relating to the rectification and dehydration of low-grade Ethanol by an Azeo-tropic method under the title, “Purification and Use of Ethanol,” 1937. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, Dr. Kowalczyk published “Thermodynamics or Energodynamics?” in Mechanical Engineering, 1952; “Poland’s Chemical Industry,” for the Mid-European Studies Center, 1953; “Thermal Conductivity and Its Variability with Temperature and Pressure,” in Transactions of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1955; “Can We Employ the Driving Force-Resistance Concept in Reaction Kenetics?” in Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 1961; “Total Pressure Method of Kinetic Analysis,” in I & EC Fundamentals, 1962; “Thermal Conductivity of Some Organic Compounds at Their Melting Points,” in Journal of Chemical and Engineering Data, 1964. And many more.
Dr. Kowalczyk was a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Chemical Engineers (U. K.), the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Engineering Education, and Tau Beta Pi.
There is no information in Dr. Kowalczyk’s archive file that gives definite dates past 1957 relative to his positions at U. of D. or his retirement or when the Professor Emeritus status was awarded.

University of Detroit

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