BSE ChE '84
When Bill Wulfsohn’s daughter, Becki, begins her studies at Michigan this fall it will be a proud day for Bill because it will mark the third generation of Wulfsohns to attend here. His father received a degree from Michigan in 1954, so it’s not surprising that Bill was a big Michigan fan when he was growing up in Illinois. He only applied to two universities for undergraduate studies, University of Illinois and University of Michigan. When he received his acceptance from Michigan, the decision was easy, he was coming to Ann Arbor.
It didn’t take long for him to learn an early lesson about what would be expected of him as an engineer. In his first ChE course, Thermodynamics I, his professor gave the students explicit directions about how to label their homework submissions. The day they turned in their first assignments, the professor sat at the front of the room and leafed through the homework, and, to the horror of many students, tore up some of the sheets as he went through the pile. It turns out he had destroyed the assignments that weren’t in the requested format. The professor told the class, “If you can’t follow my simple instructions for your homework, how will you be able to follow instructions when you are asked to design a reactor?”
“The demanding chemical engineering curriculum went on to teach me about hard work and perseverance,” Bill says. “These qualities learned as a student, in addition to the engineering emphasis on disciplined and analytical thinking and actions, set the tone for my career.” Because the program at Michigan was one of the most rigorous and competitive in the country, he says he felt well prepared for any future challenge when he entered the work world.
This summer, after more than 25 years of industrial and manufacturing experience, Bill became president and CEO of Carpenter Technology Corporation. Carpenter Technology, in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania is a leader in the development, manufacture, and distribution of high performance specialty alloys. Before his move this summer to Carpenter, he had been senior vice president of industrial coatings in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific and previously, in Europe, for PPG Industries.
While Bill was at PPG, he set up internships for Michigan chemical engineering students. This summer, Dustin Chang went to Busan, South Korea to work at an existing PPG resin plant and Eric Chuang went to Shanghai, China. Dustin and Eric worked as a team to help design the process control system for PPG’s first resin facility in China.
Bill will begin a two-year term this fall as a member of the ChE Alumni Board. He and his wife, Stephanie (LSA ’84), have two more daughters at home who they hope will consider coming to Michigan too. By the way, Becki Wulfsohn’s first choice for a major? Chemical engineering.
Since publication, Bill became chair and CEO of Ashland in 2015. Ashland is a global leader in providing specialty chemical solutions to customers in a wide range of consumer and industrial markets, including architectural coatings, automotive, construction, energy, food and beverage, personal care and pharmaceutical.
In 2014, Bill served as the chair of ChE Alumni Board and received the ChE Alumni Merit Award.
As of 2018, two of his daughters have graduated from the undergraduate program in chemical engineering at Michigan: Becki, in 2014; and Jackie, in 2016. Carolyn is currently a junior in chemical engineering at U-M and will receive her degree in 2019.