Octave Levenspiel


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.

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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.