Inducted on November 16, 2013
Norman Carnahan was born in New Iberia on the 27th day of February 1942, the son of Frank Carnahan and Viola Armentor. He grew up in New Iberia, primarily at 628 Julia Street, the home area of his maternal grandmother, Melina Robicheaux Armentor. His uncle Laurent Armentor and his aunt Lowney Armentor Giblin lived nearby. This environment provided many cousins who were his playmates during the wartime years, when most of the adults worked.
In 1951, the family was transferred to Texas as a result of his father’s job in the oil industry. However, with Bayou Teche water in his veins, and the remembrance of the pepper grinding, the Sugar Cane Festival, his grandmother’s cooking, and all of the sensory imprints from his childhood, Norman was left with close ties to New Iberia. After the move, he returned to New Iberia to spend each summer with his cousins.
He was selected by Congressman Albert Thomas to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1960, but chose instead to study physics and engineering at the University of Houston. He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Chemical Engineering in 1965. He was hired by Dow chemical Company and worked at their Louisiana Division in Plaquemines, Louisiana, from 1965 through 1968. During that time, he attended night classes at LSU. In August of 1968, Norman received a scholarship to study full-time at the University of Oklahoma. His graduate work was quite successful and led to an academic offer from Rice University where he was associated in various capacities from 1971 through the end of 2000.
A visit to New Iberia during the Easter weekend in 1998, led to a meeting with his mother’s first cousin, Minos Armentor to discuss the Armentor family history. Minos told Carnahan many interesting things, and suggested that he contact his daughter, Nancy. That was the beginning of a team effort to try to solve the puzzles of past.
Carnahan is proud that his early years roaming the streets of New Iberia and the Acadiana region helped him in his career as a scientist, engineer and teacher. Much of his success is due to the experiences gained during his years at the “Julia Street Academy”. He still makes his own roux and filé gumbo using the techniques he learned at 628 Julia Street from his grandmother Melina Robicheaux Armentor.
Carnahan is a Fellow of The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and one of the twelve-member Board of Directors of the Offshore Technology Conference. He is the Founding Chair of the Upstream Engineering and Flow Assurance Forum of the AIChE.
Norman has one daughters, a step-daughter, and one son. His wife, Lirio Quintero Carnahan, is from Venezuela. Lirio is also a chemical engineer, and earned her doctorate at the University of Paris, as a student of Professor Pierre Gilles de Gennes, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his team’s work on liquid crystals.