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Charles S. Merris Jr. named 2020 engineer of the year

Charles S. Merris Jr., P.E. has been selected by the Central Pennsylvania Engineers Week Council to receive the 2020 Engineer of the Year Award. Merris is a registered professional engineer in Pennsylvania and is a member of the Susquehanna Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

Merris was born in Harrisburg, son of Charles and Dorothy Merris, and graduated from Hempfi eld High School in Landisville, Lancaster County. He obtained his bachelors degree in biology from Millersville University.

Following a short career in the baking and restaurant industries, including a business venture with his father, Merris pursued a graduate degree in chemical engineering. He graduated with a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from Brigham Young University in 1988. His thesis was entitled “The Effects of Aspirin, PGE1, and Biomer-Coated Surfaces on Blood Microemboli Formation.”

Merris began his engineering career with Vista Chemical Company in Houston, in 1985. He worked as a process engineer responsible for process design and technical support for various chemical plants. While there, he helped develop a process with R&D from a pilot plant into a commercial-scale plant.

In 1988, he signed on as a research engineer at P.H. Glatfelter Co., a manufacturer of fi ne papers in Spring Grove, York County. In 1999, he became the supervisor of the Environmental Services Group of the Corporate Environmental Department at Glatfelter, and in 2001 he became the Engineering and Analytical Services Manager in that same department.

Merris served in that position through 2008, which included the supervision of engineers, chemists, and chemical technicians.

In 2009, he moved to the Process Improvement Group as a senior process improvement engineer where he was involved in lean manufacturing and process improvement activities. He became a senior energy project engineer in 2011 helping lead the eff ort to reduce energy usage at Glatfelter by implementation of key capital initiatives, and he became certified as a Certified Energy Manager by the Association of Energy Engineers during that time period.

In 2014, Merris became a senior project engineer responsible for various capital improvement projects.

In 2019, he began employment as a senior chemical engineer at the Talen Energy Brunner Island electric generating plant located in York Haven. He helped start up their ash wastewater plant last spring, and is currently responsible for optimization and improvement of plant water and chemistry issues.

Merris is an expert in the manufacture and application of precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) for use as a raw material in paper. While at P.H. Glatfelter Company, He was the lead process engineer and champion in the design, startup, and optimization of a $10 million 120 ton/day PCC plant at the Spring Grove facility in 1998, which had a payback of less than two years. He also developed and patented a process for producing PCC from sodium carbonate and calcium oxide (U.S. Patent # 5,364,610) in 1994.

He presented a paper on this topic at the November 1997 AIChE Annual meeting, which was later published. Merris is also an expert at reducing color in effl uent from Kraft Pulping Operations. While at Glatfelter, he directed a 3000 man hour project to complete a color, mass, and energy balance of the Spring Grove facility and provided a detailed report to the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

Charles has been involved with the Susquehanna Section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) since its inception in the early 1990’s. He has served as Chair, Vice Chair, and is currently serving as Treasurer. He was instrumental at spearheading the career guidance activities of the section, which included starting shadowing and scholarship programs as well as the coordination of visits of chemical engineers to local elementary and high schools.

In recognition for these contributions, Merris received the 2012 John H. McCormick Education Outreach Award from the Central Pennsylvania Engineers Week Council.

Merris is active in his community, having been on the Hempfi eld School Board for more than 10 years. He has been active in his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, where he has held volunteer positions as Young Mens president, Scoutmaster, Sunday School president, Elder’s president, and Bishop’s counselor. He also volunteered as an intramural soccer coach for the Hempfi eld Soccer Club for over 10 years.

He has also been supportive of Hempfield Sports and is a member of the selection committee for the Hempfi eld Athletic Hall of Fame. Merris has been supportive of Hempfield’s track and fi eld program where he was a track runner, and he has assisted every year as a volunteer and as the meet announcer for the annual Hempfi eld Black Knight Track and Field Invitational

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