Where are you from?
What company/institution do you work for?
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Where did you complete/are you completing your chemical engineering education?
Louisiana State University
How many years have you been a member of AIChE?
Describe a recent challenge you managed, notable achievement, or obstacle you overcame at your job or in your work as an AIChE member?
I have recently published a book titled Chemicals from Biomass: Integrating Bioprocesses into Chemical Production Complexes for Sustainable Development. The book presents a methodology for new plants based on renewable resources which supply the needed goods and services of existing plants. As an AIChE member, I have started a unique project to connect chemical engineers to a new direction of green economy. The challenges in this work include understanding the intricacies of a green economy, how it differs from a brown economy. My vision involves identifying the areas where a chemical engineer can contribute towards the transition from a brown to a green economy.
What do you do to meet people in your field?
Network through national and local chapters of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Engineers without Borders, regional Sustainability Alliances, and participate in workshops.
What's the first thought you have when you wake up in the morning?
What do I optimize today?
If your college had offered a class on real-life skills for the aspiring ChE, what would you want them to teach?
Heuristic approaches to problem solving. It is probably a skill most required by any engineer. True that numbers are important, and we love to see that material and energy balance equation solved to the second decimal point, but the heuristic design skills of an engineer is invaluable for any process engineer.
If you weren't a ChE what would you most want to be?
A reaction engineer in the kitchen (a.k.a chef)! I sincerely believe that I do reaction engineering when I am cooking. Though I have never set foot in a wet lab except for fulfilling the undergraduate course requirement, I am sure the experience is similar to achieving results in the kitchen.
What don't most people know about you?
I consider myself to be an engineer first, then a researcher. I am an objectivist and I have Atlas Shrugged in my nightstand.
Do you have any advice for current or future young professionals reading ChEnected?
Chemical engineering is an ever-interesting field of study, by being at the heart of any transformation of resources. Every thing we see, touch, and feel around us is a product of chemical engineers, who strive to bring a reaction from the bench scale to the consumer and we should be proud of that. ChEnected is a great place to start in gaining knowledge on state-of-the-art developments in the field of chemical engineering. Resources like CEP and the AIChE Journal are also helpful for the advanced inquisitive. It is very easy to get involved and network with fellow chemical engineers, you just need to find the right person to send the request email to. Seriously, AIChE has given me the ability to explore new ideas, and the divisions and local chapters within the organization are very open to innovative young professionals. So if you are a motivated chemical engineer and want to pursue a completely new idea, the AIChE organization is the place to be. You can contact Debalina through her LinkedIn profile or her Facebook page. Facebook Page (optional)