Chemical and Biological Engineering Professor Charles G. Hill Jr. is widely known as an exemplary teacher, leader and mentor. He excels in both research and teaching and uses his strength in each to reinforce the other. He has had tremendous impact in teaching courses like kinetics and reactor design, and the operations and process laboratory. He has taught the laboratory course not only in Madison, but also sections held at University College, London; the University of Oviedo in Spain, and the Technical University of Vienna. Hill's skillful use of the Socratic method keeps students challenged and engaged in the classroom. His high standards are accompanied by a willingness to meet with students individually to help them improve their understanding of course concepts.
Hill is constantly updating the courses that he teaches, writing virtually a completely new set of homework problems each year. Many of these problems are based on the scientific literature, giving them further interest.
Hill wrote a key reactors textbook (Chemical Kinetics and Reactor Design, Wiley, 1977) that is currently in its 29th printing and is used for instruction in the United States and abroad. Among other notable features, this text broke from the trend toward generalization and abstraction ("consider the reaction A→B") to anchor the design and analysis concepts in context and applications. Many students say this is one of the select textbooks that they will not sell at the end of the semester, as they find it a key part of their professional library.
Hill has been an advocate and frequent instructor of overseas programs, including the well-known summer lab course. This very hands-on course runs over five weeks for 40 hours per week. Some students call it "boot camp," and while current students view it with some trepidation, it is acclaimed as a key growth experience by many alumni in conversations and surveys.
Hill is one of the college's most honored teachers, and is a past winner of 13 Polygon teaching awards, a Tau Beta Pi teaching award, and the Benjamin Smith Reynolds award, to name just a few. He is also a member of the UW-Madison Teaching Academy.
He earned his bachelor's, master's and PhD degrees in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During his teaching career he motivated many students to go to graduate school and become chemical engineering faculty themselves. Some notable examples include UW-Madison Chemical and Biological Engineering Professors James Dumesic and Eric Shusta.