Hall of Distinction Class of 2002-2003

Edward McLaughlin, dean emeritus of the College of Engineering at LSU, is a native of Ireland. He attended Queen’s University, Belfast, for his baccalaureate and master’s degrees, and then moved to Imperial College of the University of London, England for his Ph.D. in physical chemistry and DIC in chemical engineering-thermodynamics. He was subsequently awarded the D.Sc. degree in recognition of his international standing in the fields of thermodynamic and transport properties of dense fluids. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he was invited to join the faculty of the Chemical Engineering Department, where he had pursued his degrees and rose rapidly from assistant lecturer, lecturer, senior lecturer and reader , to assistant director of the department over a period of fourteen years. After a sabbatical leave at LSU as a NSF Senior Visiting Foreign Scientist, he moved to LSU in 1970 as professor of chemical engineering, became department chairman in 1979, until he moved to the position of dean of engineering in 1987, where he remained until his retirement in 1997.

During his career at LSU, he perceived a real need for a faculty with a dedication to research, as well as excellence in undergraduate and graduate instruction, as push for significant enhancement of laboratory infrastructure at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, and the need to move closer to industry, which was the potential employer of our graduates. In the absence of adequate state resources, he started the program of titled professorships funded by alumni and industry to reward faculty with salary supplements when he was chairman of chemical engineering. He made this program a major activity as dean by hiring a full-time fundraiser, Edward J. Steimel. Success of this program can be gauged by the fact that most college faculty now hold such professorships. As dean, he decided to approach the college student leadership to support the idea of a technology fee to modernize undergraduate laboratory equipment. In this, he was successful and the University ultimately adopted the program, then statewide and endorsed by the Legislature, where the college role as the initiator was recognized on the floor of the House. Scholarship and graduate fellowship support was successfully pursued as well, so the college endowments now total approximately $40 million. In 1995, he initiated the undergraduate program in environmental engineering, in which student design has already won several national awards under the guidance of Dr. David Constant.

During his years of leadership, the College made significant advances in all its activities and was a quantum step forward in the strength of its students, faculty and resources, leading it into the new century. He always sought to lead by example rather than exhortation, and to this end maintained his own strong externally funded research program with an outstanding cadre of research students.

As well as engineering activities, he always stressed the need for engineers to support and enjoy the arts and humanities and their role in the engineering curriculum. To this end, the college helped in fund raising for that area form engineering alumni and even helped launch the Swine Palace Theatre. He also saw the need for a history of the College and commissioned a two-volume history covering the period for 1869 to 1970, when he, himself, first appeared on the scene at LSU.

He was a member of Tau Beta Pi, Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, the Faraday Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, of which he was a fellow and successively vice chairman and chairman of the local chapter. He was also a member of the American Society of Engineering Education and was a Registered Professional Engineer in chemical engineering.

Among his many outside appointments to state and national committees, he was member of the Academic Advisory Committee of the National Industrial Research Institute, assistant to the director of the Salter’s Institute of Industrial Chemistry in London and chairman of the Board of Electrokinetics, Inc.

In all his endeavors throughout his career at both LSU and Imperial College, he sought to remedy what he perceived as the major obstacles to progress of the educational units under his leadership by looking at things from new perspectives and following up with ideas that were new and practical.