Here are some Frequently Asked Questions related to running a successful student chapter. Learn about local sections and how they can help you. In addition, learn about fundraising and meeting planning.
AIChE has Local Sections in 111 locations across the globe. They consist of AIChE members who are professional working chemical engineers.
Please call (646) 495-1332 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to provide information. Or see our (Local Section map) that groups the Sections by region and lists the contact details of members. Also, check to see if your Student Chapter Advisor is a member of a Local Section.
Local Sections are an extremely important networking tool for students. Through Local Section involvement, ChemE students and young grads can get in the loop on news regarding career opportunities and job openings, hot new technologies, and collaborate on outreach projects, fundraisers, and social events. You might also learn of upcoming internships and summer research opportunities through the Local Sections. There is about a 70% chance you will get your first job through someone you meet through networking. Start developing your contacts early.
Some Student Chapters have already established mutually rewarding working relations with Local Sections. Take the initiative and get involved with a nearby Section. Let them know that there is a Student Chapter that wants to interact with them. The Local Sections at AIChE enjoy working with students and are often very enthusiastic about collaborating on events.
Making the connection with Local Sections is a very easy thing to do and one that will most certainly pay off. Get in touch with the Section contact, be friendly and introduce yourself. See if they might like to participate in your Student Chapter.
Here are some potentially collaborative ideas to discuss with the Local Section contact:
- Work with the Local Section to plan a "Student Night." This might include job-readiness workshops, career panel discussions with recent grads and members, presentation of student papers, and motivational speakers.
- Invite Section officers to hold a monthly meeting at your University.
- Put Local Section leaders on your Chapter mailing list and vice versa. Keep them informed of your goings on.
- Hold fundraising and outreach events together. Remember, the more the merrier and the bigger the returns.
- Try to arrange a tour for your Chapter of a local member's company facilities.
- Invite Local Sections members to be guest speakers. Local professionals make excellent presenters at Chapter meetings and are often quite happy to do it.
- Contact your alumni about contributions from their company. Recent grads and past Chapter members can be very sympathetic to young ChemEs at their alma mater.
- Check with industry contacts for corporate sponsorship. This includes contacts your Advisor may know or former guest speakers with whom you maintain contact.
- Hold raffles. Learn what it is that would "sell" at your school. Maybe a two-month membership to a certain health club or a $100 gift certificate to a local restaurant.
- Use old-fashioned elbow grease. Get out and hold car washes, bake sales, holiday card sales, etc. This will make money as well as promote great interaction and teamwork among your members.
How do you define a "successful" meeting? Do you want student participation (questions and comments)? Do you want plant tours and field trips? How about speakers? Do you want to engage industry presenters or Local Section members—maybe one in the same? Do you want free food?
As you plan your meeting, set an objective. Be aware and sensitive as to what your Student Chapter members want. Develop a plan early in which you schedule your meetings and try to obtain a balance of different types of activities. You might decide to have a plant tour one month and a career workshop the next. Mix it up. Ask your members their preference and try to accommodate their interests.
Here are some ideas for meetings that may be useful in your planning:
- Invite guest speakers - Practicing engineers and industry professionals offer great insight on the in's and out's of the chemical engineering profession. They can often discuss career options within their field. Consider inviting speakers from other professions as well such as patent attorneys, physicians, venture capitalists, etc. Invite a counselor from your school's Career Services Department or an AIChE Local Section member to speak.
- You might even consider inviting a psychology professor to come and determine the personality types of your Chapter members. This might prove valuable when weighing career options.
- Meet practicing engineers - Take plant tours and meet chemical engineers on their own turf. Attend AIChE Local Section meetings and begin networking. Receptions and panel discussions with industry reps or recent grads are very informative and quite popular. Finally you could work with your Chemical Engineering Department to contact alumni who are often eager to maintain a connection with and support their alma mater.
- Contact local organizations - AIChE Local Sections can help you gain access to companies for tours, assist with event sponsorship, offer various donations, and participate in Chapter events. Other local groups are also a wonderful resource for meetings. Contact your fellow organizations such as the ACS, SWE, or IEEE to hold joint meetings. You can learn about the things they have going and vice versa and again, NETWORK.
- Field trips - Oftentimes companies can provide meals for visiting chapters. And while you're there, you can meet working ChemEs, observe the workplace, and learn about their process. To arrange a plant tour, try calling the Human Resources Department of the target company and ask how to set up a plant tour. Chapter advisors and professors may have contacts at area companies as well.