AIChE Election Candidates Answer: What role do you see Young Professionals having in the future of AIChE?

1/5   in the series AIChE Election Candidates Q&A
Voting for the 2013 AIChE Board of Directors is underway at The Young Professionals Committee (YPC) asked potential members of AIChE's board a few questions about Young Professionals and AIChE. They were asked to answer up to three questions, so you won't see responses from every candidate for every question. Over the next couple of weeks, you'll see their answers and get to know them better in a series of posts. Feel free to visit the election page to learn more about the election process and each candidate. Let's get started with the first question. Answers are shown in alphabetical order by position and then candidate last name.

What role do you see Young Professionals having in the future of AIChE?

Otis Shelton -- Running for the office of President Elect:

Young Professionals are the future leaders of AIChE; the future of AIChE depends, in large measure, on the willingness of Young Professionals to actively participate and address many issues facing our profession. Emerging new technologies, new advances in existing technologies, as well as societal issues such as water scarcity, sustainability, and energy are prime areas where young professional chemical engineers can make significant contributions. The Institute is making progress on these fronts, but much more is needed to achieve the desired global impact. Increasingly, the Institute is encouraging Young Professionals to serve in leadership roles to address these issues. In addition, to be responsive to the needs of our chemical engineering membership, it is important that we utilize new approaches (e.g., e-communication, social media) to increase our effectiveness in increasing value to the membership. Young Professionals can play a key role in addressing these needs.

Jim Hill -- Running for the office of Secretary:

The role young professionals have in the future of AIChE is pretty obvious - young professionals are the future of AIChE, so you as YP AIChE members (and beyond YP in a few years) have the opportunity as well as the responsibility to keep AIChE strong and chemical engineering respectable for the good of society, the profession, and AIChE's members. Because AIChE is primarily a volunteer organization, there are many opportunities for participation. The main issue now is that there aren't enough of you willing to be active members. When I joined AIChE there were about 60,000 professional members--today there are only 27,000 including graduate students plus about 15,000 undergraduate student members (heavily subsidized through the "scale-up" program), but very few graduating seniors converting to become YP AIChE members. The membership committee now has a task force to address the issue, and is also discussing how local sections should be involved. A few years ago I managed to change the National Program Committee bylaws to include a YPAB representative on the executive board, so that should at least give the group more opportunities in programming for national meetings.

Christine Seymour -- Running for the office of Secretary:

Young Professionals are the future of AIChE and the future of chemical engineering. There isn't really any more to say is there?

I say belong, participate, and lead - and someday we'll be the old guys at the AIChE Annual meeting reception that everyone knows :)

Raymond Cocco - Running for the office of Director:


Every role. They are our succession plan, are they not? The young professionals are our future. It is our responsibility to give them the tools and opportunities to do what we have been doing, but better. In chemical engineering we have many challenges ahead of us - global challenges. We need to groom better scientists, better managers, better communicators and better politicians. This all has to start with our young professionals. To do this, we need to make sure our Young Professionals are integrated into the AIChE organization and not just as a member, but as a stakeholder. First, we need to get our Young Professionals embedded into the management (session and area chairs, executive committees) aspect of the AIChE, both on the local and national level. Second, we need to give all members of the AIChE better tools to track technology and business as it relates to chemical engineering (i.e., tailored websites, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). Third, we need to provide training (time management, experimental methods, communication skills, etc.) and mentors who help our Young Professions to do their job better in their careers and with the AIChE. Thus, instead of key AIChE members having 20 plus years' experience before filling a critical role, that time can be cut in half or more. Instead of hoping our members will become great engineers, we will mentor our young professionals to be great engineers.

Tom Degnan -- Running for the office of Director:

The members of the AIChE's Young Professionals organization are key to the future of the AIChE. By establishing and nurturing chemical engineering professional, social, and educational networks, the Young Professionals help engage newer members of the profession and keep the AIChE vibrant with new ideas. The Young Professionals also help current students understand and connect with career opportunities and share best practices that help recent graduates with career advancement. In an age of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, these networks provide critical support in helping members make better transitions, whether it be through graduation, changing companies, or finding new lines of work. By supporting the development of hundreds of webinars on topics that are important for chemical engineers through its ChemEOnDemand resource, the Young Professionals groups help young chemical engineers expand their knowledge base in areas that can be important to both their career and personal growth. Because the Young Professionals are global they provide valuable perspectives on global practices and cultural differences. These networks are essential to AIChE's vision to provide value as the global leader of the chemical engineering profession and the lifetime center for professional and personal growth. Through the new Apprentice Program, Young Professionals are encouraged to gain leadership experience through service to the AIChE while helping direct the AIChE to be a more valuable professional and personal development resource for its members.

L.S. Fan - Running for the office of Director:

Over the past two decades, I have noticed a significant reduction of the Young Professional population in traditional chemical engineering fields, particularly in some fields such as energy. However, for example, with the recent interest in sustainable energy and environmental concerns, more and more students are steering towards the energy sector. And a number of Young Professionals are entering these fading areas. Without these new workforces, traditional chemical engineering would not be able to continue. Industry can be old-fashioned and less adventurous; relying on what has been tried and true. Young Professionals can bridge this experience gap. Young Professionals in both industry and academia are very enthusiastic and full of new ideas. Their active engagement in AIChE is pivotal for the future of AIChE. Taking ownership of AIChE should be cultivated from the beginning of careers in order for our professional society to be further relevant and useful for all members.

Paula Hammond -- Running for the office of Director:

Young Professionals are the key drivers with regard to the direction of the field. They take us down new paths and introduce new, often multi-disciplinary, aspects to the field. The highly collaborative nature of the field is championed in particular by younger chemical engineers, as is the ability to use and incorporate more of the useful aspects of social networking and communication skills in a more global engineering society.

Annette Johnston -- Running for the office of Director:

Young Professionals have the opportunity and the responsibility to update AIChE to meet the needs of their colleagues. They have the most accurate perspective on what makes AIChE relevant to their practice, and how AIChE impacts societal needs. YPC members are keenly interested in the societal impact of everything they do. We will always build on the knowledge and experience collected with senior colleagues to maintain the strength and prestige of AIChE. Relevance to societal needs is a foundation for prestige and strength. Our youngest members are needed for their insight and action, in programming and public relations, to keep AIChE relevant.

Michael R. Poirer -- Running for the office of Director:

Obviously, they are the future of the Institute. The profession and society are changing, especially with the Web and social media. It is important that the AIChE utilize Young Professionals to help us make better use of resources like the Web and social media to serve members. Learn more about the candidates by reading their bios, and then vote: