This fall, the chemical engineering community will gather in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting, October 29 through November 3. The meeting is distinguished by many new and innovative topical conferences and technical program tracks that underscore the pivotal roles that chemical engineers play in addressing societal needs — from sustainable energy, water, and food production, to breakthroughs in medicine, to advances in manufacturing, and beyond.
This diversity of technical interests mirrors the people in chemical engineering, whose singular experiences, perspectives, and aptitudes cumulatively strengthen the profession. To ensure that all chemical engineers have an opportunity to fully contribute to this progress, AIChE’s Societal Impact Operating Council (SIOC) and other Institute groups are organizing special sessions devoted to improving inclusion, retention, and participation in the chemical engineering workforce.
One highlight is a new Annual Meeting plenary session — “Diversity and Inclusion: Starting and Thriving in the Workplace” — on October 31. Moderated by Zenaida Gephardt (Rowan University), a past chair of SIOC, the session will demonstrate how organizations are reaping the rewards of a diverse and inclusive workforce. Speakers include Cynthia Murphy-Ortega, manager of university partnerships and association relations at Chevron; Michael McAtee, senior vice president for strategic projects at BASF; Yuk Louie, manager in the Process Development Division at ExxonMobil Research and Engineering Company; and Jim Sweeney, professor and head of the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University.
Also on October 31, SIOC is sponsoring a panel discussion entitled, “Broadening Participation in Chemical Engineering: Outreach Efforts that Work,” featuring creative approaches to attracting and mentoring chemical engineering students from underrepresented groups. Among the panelists, Dennis O’Brien (Jacobs Consultancy), Taryn Bayles (University of Pittsburgh), and Tony Butterfield (University of Utah) will describe their organizations’ successful outreach programs.
Several AIChE committees and task forces are also sponsoring events aimed at advancing inclusion in the Institute and the chemical engineering profession.
The ChemE’s with Disabilities Task Force is sponsoring the 5th Annual ChemE’s with Disabilities and Allies Forum and Reception on October 29. A Disability Unity Convocation and panel discussion takes place on October 31.
Also on October 31, the AIChE Foundation and Board of Directors will host a reception for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) engineers and allies. The reception coincides with the launch in November 2017 of AIChE’s new LGBTQ+ and Allies Online Community. Chemical engineer in the AIChE network can join the online community by visiting www.aiche.org/lgbtqallies.
AIChE’s Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) is presenting several sessions, highlighted by the MAC Chemical Engineering Forum on October 30. That session features invited talks and MAC’s 2017 Eminent Engineer Awards, which will be presented to Alicia Boler-Davis, executive vice president of global manufacturing at General Motors; Felecia Nave, vice president and provost at Prairie View A&M University; and Timothy O. Odi, engineering fellow at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company. MAC is also conducting a session on mentorship and a career paths workshop in association with the AIChE Minority Faculty Forum.
AIChE’s Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIC) hosts a career-enhancement workshop for women faculty members and young scientists, as well as a session for women graduate students and post-doctorates on October 29. WIC’s activities culminate in a luncheon and awards presentation on October 30.
Details about the entire Annual Meeting program are available at www.aiche.org/annual.
About AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 53,000 chemical engineers in 110 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 frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.