Cheryl Teich, AIChE's President Elect, recently imparted a wealth of practical knowledge to a Society for Women Engineers' Philadelphia local section meeting.
The topic was the Grand Challenges of Engineering, as developed by the National Academy of Engineering. These challenges are broad in scope, have great potential impact, and encompass many overarching societal issues.
They include making solar energy economical, engineering better medicines, and providing access to clean water, the latter of which Cheryl used as an example for how she tackles engineering problems.
Her first words of advice were to use your critical thinking skills, such as:
- Obey the 0th, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd laws of thermodynamics
- Know your process
- Never assume
- Challenge everything
- Develop a process with scale-up in mind
- Remember the goal is commercial success
- Do cost estimates early and often
- Check units and make sure conversions are consistent.
During Cheryl's career, she learned these tenets, sometimes the easy way and sometimes the hard way (which was more often my learning method).