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The University of Tennessee

The Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department

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Alumni & Friends

The University of Tennessee Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering values the backing of our loyal alumni and friends and encourages campus visits and participation in college and university activities.

Here are some examples of who our CBE alumni are, where they are, and what they are doing:

Smith, Jerry (BS/ChE '02)
Jerry Smith
is a 2002 graduate of the UTK chemical engineering program. Following his graduation from The University of Tennessee, he joined ExxonMobil as a reservoir engineer in Houston, TX. He spent five years there completing various oil and gas development programs throughout the United States. Following ExxonMobil, Jerry joined a smaller private oil and gas company that focused on maximizing recovery out of more mature oil fields in the U.S.; it was here that he was introduced to mergers and acquisitions within the oil and gas industry. Recently, he accepted a position as Associate Director at the Bank of Nova Scotia's energy investment banking division, Scotia Waterous. Scotia Waterous is the industry leader in oil and gas investment banking. Jerry says that his favorite part of the job is meeting and talking to industry leaders on a daily basis, and advising them on acquisition and divestiture opportunities. In 2008, Jerry received his M.B.A. from The University of Texas at Austin's executive program. (posted 4/11)

Porter, James B., Jr. (BS/ChE '65)
James Porter
served as Vice President and Chief Engineer — Safety, Health, & Environment and Engineering for DuPont until his retirement in 2009.  He joined the company in 1966 as a chemical engineer in the engineering service division (ESD) field program at the Engineering Test Center in Newark, Delaware.  Mr. Porter has served as Chair for the Construction Industry Institute (CII) and Delaware’s United Negro College Fund. He is the 2004 recipient of CII’s Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence. He is a member of the Board of Directors for AIChE, FIATECH, the Mascaro Sustainability Initiative, and the Fieldbus Foundation and participates on various industry advisory boards including AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety and is currently the Chair of the University of Tennessee’s College of Engineering Board of Advisors and the National Academy of Construction. (posted 3/10)

Combs, Bruce (BS/ChE '84)
Bruce Combs
began his career with Dow at their Plaquemine site in Louisiana where he held a range of critical project and manufacturing leadership roles. While working for Dow and living in Baton Rouge, he completed his master’s degree in engineering from Louisiana State University. In 1994, he was named a group leader in Research & Development and relocated to Freeport, Texas. He later was named manufacturing leader for the Poly 3 plant in Freeport. In 2004, he represented Manufacturing & Engineering on the DuPont Dow reintegration team, and later added Environmental Health & Safety Business Operations leader responsibilities for Polyethylene & Elastomers, Films and Rubber. In 2006, he assumed responsibility for Supply Chain Operations for Basic Plastics. Most recently, in 2008, Bruce was appointed the global director for Dow's Polyolefins, Licensing & Catalyst Technology Center. He is a past President of the Society of Plastic Engineers for the South Texas Chapter. Bruce is currently the captain of Dow's Tennessee recruiting team and a current member of the Board of Chemical Engineering for the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. (posted 3/10)

Downs, Dr. James J. (PhD/ChE '82)
Dr. James Downs
is manager of the Advanced Controls Technology group at Eastman Chemical Company.  He has 30 years experience in the design, implementation, and startup of industrial processes. His work has included the design of advanced control systems for distillation processes, polyester polymer processes, extraction and other separations processes, gas handling systems, compressors and many unit operations common to the process industries. Dr. Downs has participated in many workshops and symposia concerning the integration of process design and process control and was recently recognized by the AIChE for his contribution to the profession by receiving the CAST Computing Practice Award. (posted 3/10)

Harris, Dr. Michael T.  (PhD/ChE ’92)
Dr. Michael Harris ( is a professor of chemical engineering and associate dean for undergraduate education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, with research interests in the areas of colloidal science and interfacial phenomena.  He received the AIChE Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering in 2005 and is a former NSF CAREER award grantee. (posted 12/09; updated 3/10)

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To submit information, please send your email to Rita Gray at

Feel free to send us tidbits about recent events which have happened to you or your family. These events can be either professional (e.g., current job, new job, new title, etc.) or personal (e.g., marriages, births, children, vacations, etc.) in nature.

If you wish, you can view our previous alumni newsletters.

Links for Alumni:


» Sign up for an Alumni E-mail List

» Professional Organizations for CBE Students

College of Engineering Links:

» A Message from the Dean

» Distinguished Alumni

» Office of Engineering Development

» UT National Alumni Association President's Message

» UT National Alumni Association

» UT Alumni & Friends

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