Issue Date: March 12, 2012
J. Reed Welker
J. Reed Welker, 74, a fire safety expert and entrepreneur and emeritus professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas (UA), died on Oct. 25, 2011, in Fayetteville, Ark.
Born in Rexburg, Idaho, Welker received a B.S. in chemical engineering in 1959 and an M.S. in chemical engineering in 1961 from the University of Idaho. He earned a Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering at the University of Oklahoma in 1965.
Welker then joined the University of Oklahoma Research Institute as a research engineer and associate director of its Flame Dynamics Laboratory. From 1965 to 1977, he was a project director and vice president of University Engineers Inc., where he directed research on fire extinguishment, fire control, and vapor dispersion. Welker also served as a fire safety consultant to industry and government agencies.
Welker founded and served as president of Applied Technology Corp. in Norman, Okla., in 1977. He conducted research on fire control and extinguishment for liquefied gases and hazardous chemicals. He also designed liquefied natural gas fire protection and safety systems.
Recognizing a need for safety fundamentals to be taught at the undergraduate level, Welker became a professor of chemical engineering at UA in 1983. With his practical knowledge of fire safety issues, he was instrumental in formalizing safety education in the university’s undergraduate curriculum. He was named the Bates Teaching Professor in Chemical Engineering at UA in 2001.
Supported by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the National Science Foundation, Welker presented undergraduate process safety seminars at universities across the U.S.
He was a member of AIChE’s Safety & Chemical Engineering Education Committee and served on panels and committees of the National Academy of Sciences and on the editorial boards of a number of technical journals. He was an emeritus member of ACS, joining in 1967.
Welker is survived by his wife of 53 years, Juanita, and three children.
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