By Brandon Hochstrasser One of the best 2013 AIChE Student Regional Conferences this year was in Lubbock, TX, hosted by the Texas Tech University, for the Southwest Region. From the Murder Mystery to the intense ChemE Car competition, nothing could be better than interacting and volunteering with future Young Professional AIChE members. Starting the conference with the ChemE Car safety and poster competition is always a treat. To see the creative side of chemical engineers does not happen too often, but when you step into the realm of ChemE Car, all bets are off. After the preliminary events ended, the paper competition commenced, and I had the privilege to be one of three judges. The Southwest Region had two students who competed, a sophomore and a junior. Both competitors gave great presentations, had the confidence and drive to be doing undergraduate research, and represented their schools proudly.
My best opportunity to reach out to students and encourage them to be a part of the YPC was during my presentation for one of the workshops. The topic I discussed was "AIChE After Graduation." I was able to describe a high level overview of how AIChE is organized and the functions of major councils and committees that build AIChE members from students to professionals. Of the many topics we discussed, transitioning from a student AIChE member to a professional AIChE member was the highlight of my presentation. We engaged in conversation about the opportunities Young Professionals have in AIChE and how the Young Professionals Committee (YPC) is a great way to volunteer and help grow the young professional network in AIChE and local areas they may be living in after graduating. The Conference continued with the ChemE Car competition which brought enthusiastic cheers from Tecnol?gico de Monterrey, Mexico, student chapter and visiting Louisiana State University (LSU) student chapter. Students continued to demonstrate their true knowledge of their chemical engineering backgrounds, or knowledge of the world around them, in a "friendly" game of ChemE Jeopardy. I am happy to see students excited about this competition even after the first National AIChE Student ChemE Jeopardy held in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Saturday ended with an outstanding Awards Banquet. Dr. Al Sacco, Jr., was the keynote speaker, and I could not think of a better person to open all of our eyes of how cool chemical engineers are. Dr. Al Sacco, Jr., is the Dean of the College of Engineering at Texas Tech University. He flew as the payload specialist on the Space Shuttle Columbia on Shuttle Mission STS-73 in 1995 and uses his space flight experience to inspire and motivate students (K-12) and their teachers to consider careers in science and engineering (especially chemical engineering). If anyone needed to find some outstanding leaders in AIChE, the students in the Southwest Region would be a great place to start. 2013 AIChE Southwest Regional Student Conference Awards: ChemE Car Competition: First Place - Tecnol?gico de Monterrey, Mexico Second Place - University of Houston Third Place - Texas A&M Kingsville Most Creative Drive System - University of Houston Most Creative Vehicle Design - Texas A&M College Station Spirit of Competition Award for ChemE Car - Louisiana State University ChemE Car Poster Competition: First Place - Rice University Second Place - Texas A&M Kingsville Paper Competition: First Place - Naureen Suteria (Texas Tech University) Second Place - Jason Chern (Texas A&M College Station) ChemE Jeopardy: First Place - Texas Tech University Second Place - Texas A&M College Station Third Place - Lamar University