Octave Levenspiel

Tributes

How did you know Octave? Was Dr. Levenspiel your Chemical Engineering professor? Did you play Chinese chess with him? Were you ever fooled by his “I’m the eighth son” story? Some of you probably want to know if ANY of his stories were true. A short biography was written about Tavy, if you really want to know how unique his life was. Visit Lulu.com.

We’d love to know how Octave touched your life.

Please write a comment, memory, or a tribute about Octave.

 
 
 
 
 
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Peggy Blair wrote on April 25, 2017:
I met Octave Levenspiel when I was a typist for the College of Engineering at OSU. It was an honor and a pleasure to have worked for him. His examples and problems, often accompanied with drawings, were so creative that his students surely must have been eager to see what was coming next. One of the papers I remember typing was the earlier version of his "Dinosaur" paper. It was such a pleasant surprise to see it on his web site.
Asad wrote on April 23, 2017:
I had the privilege of having Prof. Levenspiel as my thesis advisor. He was far more than a professor or a thesis supervisor. He was also a good friend, a life coach, and a father figure to me. I learnt something new every time I spoke to him whether it was something about science and engineering or board game strategies or how the US highway system is numbered or which ethnic food is the best value per $! He made you think and question your understanding. He was of course a prolific author, a brilliant educator, and always had great examples to help explain scientific concepts.
He had a great sense of humor and honesty. Once Tavy, Guo Tai and me decided to pick cherries from trees around his house. Some branches of his neighbor’s cherry tree were extending over the road in front of his house so they were deemed to be on city property. As such, he restricted us to pick cherries only from the branches that were extending over the road.
After finishing my Masters, he encouraged me to go to a different university for PhD and while explaining his reasoning he made a comment “….besides, if you don’t travel you may not meet the person that will change your life”. Well, he was definitely among the people who changed my life!
Thank you Tavy and may your soul rest in peace.
Joann Mayfield wrote on April 19, 2017:
I know Tavy through family. My brother Keith married his daughter Bekki and we loved joining the families. My favorite memory of him besides his sense of humor was his interaction with my three kids when they were young. We were visiting with my parents for the first time to the coast. The kids were into rock collecting and Tavy would polish some of the rocks with them. He was so patient and kind with a twinkle in his eye with them. It was a very special time. He has passed on some very good qualities to his children and grandchildren. He is one of a kind.
Spencer S wrote on April 14, 2017:
Dr. Levenspiel was a pioneer in several fields and did a helluva job passing that information on to the next generations.
Alain Gaunand wrote on April 13, 2017:
I had my first contact with Chemical Reaction Engineering in Nancy - France - (1973....), thanks to Prof. Jacques Villermaux. Since this time, I have been teaching CRE at Ecole des Mines in Paris. Most of all, I enjoyed Prof. Levenspiel's simplicity, humour and smile : from Sherlock Holmes investigation on Imbibit disparition in a googliox reactor to the Trafalgar Battle, and to the ugly witch at work in front of her "non-ideal stirred reactor", he obviously knew how to teach our sound stuff (mass, energy, momentum balances) without taking himself seriously, and communicate his enthusiasm and his pleasure to tackle physical and chemical kinetic behaviours, in any field. I am sure that he was found of geology, natural history, and admiring the beauty of nature, and all the knacks life has developed since billion years (so am I).
I am sure also that he was deeply human, both at University and with his love ones. I never met him, I only have a letter from him, but I think that there would have been a real spark between us. If you can hear me, BRAVO et mille MERCIS, Monsieur le Professeur.
Selig sind die Toten, die in dem Herren sterben, von nun an. Sie ruhen von ihrer Arbeit und ihre Werke folgen ihnen nach.
Ellie Rubenstein wrote on April 9, 2017:
For most of my childhood, the Levenspiels were our next door neighbors. In those days, everyone kept their doors open, and the Rubenstein kids would just walk into the Levenspiels' at any time, looking for one of their kids to play with. I usually walked in through the kitchen door, and often found Tavy puttering around in there. He was always smiling and gave me a grand welcome. The only people we ever celebrated Christmas with were the Levenspiels and the fun, warmth and friendship among our families was special and unique. Tavy and my dad were always goofing around and when I picture them, I only see huge smiles and genuine happiness. One summer day I decided to try riding a bike without training wheels and Tavy held onto the back of the bike seat and ran alongside me. I kept yelling, "Don't let go! Don't let go!" and he said, "I won't, not until you're ready." Halfway down our block, as I focused hard on balancing the bike, I suddenly realized Tavy was no longer at my side. I panicked but then realized I could ride without him holding on. I made it to the end of the block, and turned to see him with that huge smile. And I see now that that was one of Tavy's many gifts, even though I never could have articulated it at that young age. He knew how to challenge people, support them, and also knew when they were ready for him to let go. I was too young to know how brilliant he was, how admired and respected he was. He was "Bekki's dad", the funny guy who could make coins appear out your ear and nose, who called his dog Lolly Lee Lou and chanted mysterious "Jattery Mattery Sickle Yandy" spells. He's fondly and forever woven into memories of my youth.
Tom Fitzgerald wrote on April 7, 2017:
I was a senior student in chemical engineering in the Fall of 1958, in the first class Octave gave in reaction engineering at IIT. Octave presented the class with challenging and seemingly simple questions that often led to arguments between students, while all the while he kept the sessions going with examples that included conveyor belts, big stirred tanks, and even multiple cycle washing machines.
At the end of the course I got a B and complained to Professor Levenspiel that I thought I deserved an A, based on the fact that I had argued more in class than other students. He said he would have to give two other students an A to give one to me. He did.
In the ten years that followed I worked on finding residence time distributions in fluidized beds and taught chemical reaction engineering. Meanwhile, Octave had moved to Oregon State University and on a trip to IIT he said he was wondering if any of us would consider moving to Oregon. I jumped at the chance, and for the next decade I took turns with Octave teaching chemical reaction engineering at Oregon State. But when I taught it the students complained that they weren’t getting the real thing.
Octave had many requests to do consulting and sometimes he would hear them out, and then tell them “I have a young colleague…” One of these referrals led to my position at TRW in Los Angeles as a senior scientist. It was exciting work. I stayed there for 20 years but never again found as good a friend as Octave.
Basavaraj Mahipat Kulkarni wrote on March 31, 2017:
I know him as my mentor at IIT Bombay during 78-79 where he immensely influenced me by his simplistic approach to complex situations.Really God gifted teacher and a mentor. May his soul rest in peace.
Rada and Neda wrote on March 30, 2017:
Neda and I are very saddened to hear of Professor’s Tavy’s passing. We first met Tavy and Mary Jo in 1995, when they took us into their home to live while studying at OSU. We are eternally grateful for the kindness and warmth of both Tavy and Mary Jo during this time who both had a strong influence on Neda and me becoming young women and world citizens.
During the years at Crest Place, Tavy was like a grandfather to us. He would often stop by to chat and give us puzzles or problems to solve, lend us classical music, even occasionally drive us to OSU in his Volkswagens or take us to Young’s kitchen for a lunch discussion.
Tavy was a great story teller, and he left us often puzzled about where the reality stops and the imagination begins (especially when it comes to his life story and the adventures). The mysteries were solved years later, in the book by Bekki (“Octave Levenspiel”), when it was revealed that the stories were indeed true! Thank you, Bekki.
Besides the well written books, in which the complex concept were presented with fun cartoons, we had a pleasure of experiencing the first hand teaching due to the absence of Prof Levien that lasted for about a month, when Tavy substituted the classes.
Tavy was a fantastic teacher, carrying individual, who made us laugh many times. Knowing Tavy was an amazing life lesson. It contributed to teaching us more about personal openness, while setting the hierarchy aside and treating us as equal. We are very saddened by his passing and very grateful to have known him. Our thought and prayers are with Mary Jo, Bekki & Keith, Morris, Kyle, Cody and Quincy.
Denise wrote on March 28, 2017:
I knew Tavi through his daughter, Bekki, who used to bring him to lunch with "the girls." Tavi would keep us entertained as we ate spring rolls and egg noodle soup at Kim Hoa's. He was a charming and inventive conversationalist and always a welcome lunch companion. I also remember the time he tried to teach us how to play bridge. We never really caught on - I think because we spent too much time talking and laughing - but we had a wonderful time. I am glad I got to know Tavi - however briefly. His warmth, intelligence and love of life live on in his incredible family.
Guotai Zhang wrote on March 22, 2017:
I knew Professor Levenspiel by reading his famous book “Chemical Reaction Engineering) (CRE) in 1970’s in Shanghai.
The first Chinese chess we played together was in March, 1981 at pizza party in Professor Tom Fitzgerald’s home. That was the first day when I flew from Shanghai to USA for further study and research and Octave picked me up at Eugene airport. Last time we had played Chinese chess together was I visit him and Mary Levenspiel at Willamette View in Portland 2014.
I had been working and studying with him from 1981 to 1983 and 1988 to 1991. I have learned a lot from lab research, attend class, and daily lunch discussion in his office. We have published and presented eight papers around the world in the field of Chemical Kinetics, Reactor Design, Heat Transfer in Fluidized Bed etc. I had translated his solution book to the problems in the Chemical Reaction Engineering book and published in Shanghai in 1982. I had also prepared 386 Solutions to the Odd-Numbered Problems in the Chemical Reactor Omnibook in 1989.
Tave, you are my life time teacher and friend, I am very lucky and happy to have worked with you. My wife, my daughter and I will remember you forever.
Akshay Modi wrote on March 22, 2017:
My interest in Chemical Engineering started when I first read your book on CRE in 5th semester of my undergrad education. Then only I decided to pursue higher studies in ChE resulting in landing up a PhD admit at IIT Bombay. I am grateful to you for inciting an interest in ChE.
RIP Prof. Levenspiel!
Pedro Castaño wrote on March 22, 2017:
Dear Prof. Levenspiel, your books and legacy will always be a source of great inspiration and motivation, to study and comprehend reactor design and chemical engineering. Thank you very much for sharing with us your vision!
Ashutosh Namdeo wrote on March 22, 2017:
Thank you for your valuable contribution to the Chemical Engineering. Reaction engineering is the subject which identify us as a Chemical Engineer. He will be remembered as a great teacher of all Chemical engineer's across the countries.
Ellen Barrar Dagan wrote on March 20, 2017:
Dr. Levenspiel was my favorite professor ever! I graduated in Chemical Engineering in 1979. Shortly thereafter, I went to Israel and talked about Dr. Levenspiel to my Aunt, who lived in Israel. She had met him in Shanghai during the war! What a small world, and one made much better by having had the pleasure of meeting and learning from Dr. Levenspiel. Ellen Dagan
Alirio Rodrigues wrote on March 20, 2017:
I was a doctoral student in Nancy when Levenspiel gave a Seminar at LSGC on September 17, 1973. He mixed English and French in his beautiful and pedagogical presentation . I still have my notes of that Seminar. I tell my students: if you read and understand Levenspiel's book on CRE is more than enough : the original is better than photocopies...Levenspiel's contribution to CRE remains alive!
Colette Kock wrote on March 20, 2017:
My condolences to Prof Levenspiel's family. His Chemical Reaction Engineering textbook remains one of the few that I still refer to, 22 years since graduating. Thank you for for helping me to understand - and nowadays, for helping me to explain.
pradeep mangesh pednekar wrote on March 19, 2017:
RIP
Natan Padoin wrote on March 19, 2017:
Dear Prof. Levenspiel, thank you for your huge contribution to Chemical Engineering.
Abdi Shirazi wrote on March 18, 2017:
I have been an admirer of Tavy and am deeply saddened by his pass,
I was fortunate to be a student in his Chemical Reaction Kinetics course at OSU in 1969. We formed a friendship that lasted many decades. He used to say, "mastery of a technical subject is when you can explain it to layman so they understand"..
He loved to play backgammon with me and would not quit until he won. Once while visiting Corvallis, we played for hours until I missed my flight.
He will never be forgotten by those who were fortunate enough to have known him.
RIP my teacher, mentor and friend.