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HomeNewsArchivesOff Island Profile: Delvis Dore

Off Island Profile: Delvis Dore

July 15, 2007 — Meet Delvis Dore, a chemistry graduate student at Illinois State University and corrosion chemist for Caterpillar, the giant tractor and farm machinery manufacturer.
Dore was born on St. Croix and grew up in Williams Delight, where his parents still live.
He is the fifth of six children; five boys and a girl. He came to the attention of the Source recently as an interesting St. Croix native living abroad when he wrote a letter to the Source about a math and science summer program. (See "Praise for Students Who Built Robots.")
Dore’s father is retired from the V.I. Water and Power Authority’s water department.
“I’m the first one in the family to go to college,” Dore said in a recent phone interview. Asked why he thought that was so, Dore gave the credit to his parents, saying they provided us with the tools we needed to succeed. His learning and his interest in science were both spurred along by a set of encyclopedias his parents had in the house when he started school.
“I remember learning the alphabet from that set of encyclopedias,” Dore said. “My sibling would write a letter on a piece of paper and ask me which book had that letter on it.” Later, those same encyclopedias would be used time and again, consulted whenever he was curious about something or when he needed information for school reports.
Dore also credits his parents for striving to give them the tools to succeed.
“My dad, whatever we showed an interest in, he would always do his best to accommodate us,” he said. “If we were curious about anything, we had the encyclopedias in the house. When I showed an interest in science, I must have been 10 or 12, he got me a microscope. It was nothing very snazzy. Just a child’s microscope like they had back in those days. It came with some pre-made slides and a few blank slides you could put specimens on. That’s just an example of how my parents really helped to foster my interest in science at a young age.”
Parental discipline also played a role.
“They always made sure we had our work done before we were allowed to do anything else,” Dore said. “My dad did not coddle us. If we got into trouble, he’d let us stew in jail rather than pick us right up. That didn’t happen to me. I remember a story my sister told me about one of my older brothers. My dad felt if you did something bad, you paid the consequences, and if you were going to ever be the man of the house, you had to act like it.”
A public-school prodigy, Dore began at Evelyn Williams Elementary. He was in the accelerated program the entire time and gradated second in his class. When he entered Arthur Richards Junior High, his interest in science began to take off.
“I remember a problem my science teacher gave us that I worked out,” he said. “But I had no idea how I came to it. So I needed to figure it out.”
Dore went to the St. Croix Educational Complex as a 10th grader the first year it opened, graduating in 1998. He then attended Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. where he received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
“I initially went to school to become a doctor,” he recalled. “But at college, my introductory biology class was dreadfully boring. So I went straight into chemistry.”
College life was not without its struggles for the young Crucian.
“I have to admit, college was a hard time, coming from such a small environment, being so far from family,” he said. “I found if you really show initiative, the professors will help you out with whatever you need help on. It took me awhile to learn that, but in the end I did. My professor, Dr. Hitchcocks, at Illinois State, is one of the most amazing guys I know. His teaching style, his charisma; many graduate students say and I agree, he is an awesome professor.”
These days, Dore is working to help Caterpillar figure out how to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and, at the same time, protect their heavy equipment engines. It's technical and scientific work that affects the environment as well as Caterpillar’s bottom line.
To understand what he does, you need a basic knowledge of chemistry.
“The last time around, from 2004 to 2007, to achieve the EPA’s last emission standards, they put an exhaust loop into the engine, recirculating the exhaust back through to be combusted,” Dore explained. “That lowered the emissions, but created a whole new set of problems. Some of the gases — sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide for instance — mix with air and fuel to produce corrosive chemicals like sulfuric and nitric acid. When you cut off the engine, everything stops and those chemicals, instead of going out the exhaust, sit there throughout the engine, potentially damaging it. We are looking at ways to limit the gases and ways to lower the amount of both acids and corrosion.”
He explained some of the techniques they are trying, like flushing the system with urea, but the level of technical detail grew quickly.
Meanwhile, he says his academic work is very different, aimed more toward the pharmaceutical field.
“I’m not entirely sure which direction I’m going to go in yet,” Dore said. Both are areas in high demand, and both have interesting problems to solve, so there is no losing choice.
Asked for some advice to St. Croix high school students, Dore said, “Professor Hitchcocks had a mantra: 'Be pro-active about your future; you have to live in it.'"
Dore also said you need to have faith in yourself and keep working.
“You don’t have to go to Good Hope or the private schools to do well,” he said. “There are okay public schools, too. The girl who grew up across the street from me in Williams Delight is working at Coca-Cola now. If you have a good head on your shoulders, and just keep striving, you’ll do fine in public school and get into a good college. Once you leave the island to go to school, just keep putting your best foot forward and you will make something of yourself.”
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