AIChE WISE Intern is Awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Andrew Crothers (Photo: Erica Wissolik)

April 17, 2014

Andrew Crothers, a recent chemical engineering graduate at North Carolina State Univ. and an AIChE-sponsored participant in the Washington Internships for Science and Engineering (WISE) program, has been named a recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. The NSF Fellowships are presented to candidates in their early careers who have demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. The Fellowship provides three years of financial support for graduate studies in a field within NSF’s mission that leads to a research-based master’s or doctoral degree.

Crothers, who graduated from North Carolina State in December 2013 with a double major in chemical engineering and economics, was brought to NSF’s attention during his AIChE-sponsored WISE internship in 2013. The WISE program selects undergraduate engineering students to conduct research on public policy issues during the summer in Washington, DC. The internships allow students to learn about the interactions between the engineering community and the government and to see how engineers can contribute to decision-making on complex technological matters. As part of his internship, Crothers prepared and presented a research paper entitled “Navigating Natural Gas Exports,” which dealt with the policies and implications of the recent natural gas boom on energy markets and U.S. energy producers.

Crothers says that the experience in Washington, DC, “gave me a first-hand understanding of the complexities of the political process, and the numerous avenues we as engineers can and must follow to promote technically viable and benign public policies.”

Crothers is currently participating in a post-baccalaureate internship at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he is studying how polymer membranes in fuel cells interact with water. In Fall 2014, he will pursue a PhD in chemical engineering at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, where he intends to bring his engineering and economics backgrounds to bear to solve issues related to energy scarcity.

“I am excited with the technical depth and rigor of my engineering degree, and my economics coursework has given me tools to evaluate how society responds to innovations, and how those innovations impact economic equity and efficiency,” says Crothers. Lack of consideration given to such human and societal factors, says Crothers, “often ends up causing innovations to fail more often than do technical shortcomings.”

The National Science Foundation has presented its Graduate Research Fellowships since 1952, with a goal of ensuring the vitality and diversity of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States. Past Fellowship recipients include numerous Nobel Prize winners; former U. S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu; Google founder, Sergey Brin; and former chair of the U. S. Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke. More information about NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program is available at

For details about the Washington Internships for Science and Engineering program, including applications for 2015 internships, visit

Editor’s Note:

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AIChE is a professional society of more than 45,000 chemical engineers in 100 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontiers of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at