Voting for next year's AIChE Board of Directors begins September 16 at http://www.aiche.org/election. Have your say and help direct the future of AIChE! 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 two main questions, and were given the option of choosing to respond to additional questions, so you won't see responses from every candidate for every question. Over the next few weeks, you'll see their answers and get to know them better in this series of posts. You can also learn more about candidates and the election process on the AIChE election page. Below, you'll find answers to the first question. Answers are shown in alphabetical order by position and the candidate's last name.
What role do you see Young Professionals having in the future of AIChE?
AIChE needs YP's to provide leadership in a variety of areas. The institute's major sources of income come from our meetings and our membership dues - YP's are needed to make certain that AIChE is providing meetings that are attractive to YP's and that our membership benefits are viewed positively by each sector of our membership population. AIChE also needs assistance from YP's as the institute looks to improve communication with all members. Today's communication modes are moving to near instantaneous delivery with either low or reduced costs. YP's can have a positive impact by keeping AIChE moving into communication modes that are both effective and efficient. YP's can also positively impact AIChE's continuing efforts grow and retain membership by making sure that the programs provided are viewed positively by our entering membership sector.
Every organization that I know depends critically for its survival and growth on its young members. AIChE is no different and its Young Professionals have an absolutely critical role to play in helping the Institute maintain a strong presence in industry and serve society effectively. Young professionals embody the hope for change by developing and embracing new technologies but also by bringing a fresh new look at established policies and traditional methods of doing business. They are sensitive to current issues such as sustainability, water and energy, and ready to adopt new technologies that can help meet the challenges arising from them. Young professionals have also been educated with modern methods and curricula from a continuously evolving educational system and are adept to new tools of communication and networking such as social media. They provide the best bridge between the Institute and students. As such, they can play a unique and most critical role in the future of AIChE. It is thus imperative for AIChE to provide the means by which young professionals are engaged in the business of the Institute in a meaningful and productive way. The challenge is to create the environment in which young professionals feel about AIChE not just as members but as stakeholders. Methods to achieve this goal include recruitment at the undergraduate student level, active engagement in local section and encouragement to undertake leadership positions at the national level. Young professional are global and, as such, should lead the global aspirations of AIChE. Attracting them at increasing numbers to the Institute should be a top priority and all effective methods should be used to this end, including an office at AIChE headquarters to listen to their concerns and react proactively to their suggestions.
Young members bring fresh ideas, ranging from developing the latest technological advances to implementing technical solutions that improve quality-of-life while meeting societal challenges and protecting the environment. The Young Professionals' role is central to shaping the future of our profession. This is both a reward and a responsibility. AIChE offers many opportunities for young Engineers to become involved in this important mission - from national/international committees to divisions & forums and local sections. I challenge you to make a difference by taking a leadership role and by your active participation in conferences & programs.
Young Professionals are the future of AIChE scientific and technical trends in chemical engineering. These trends will change the nature of the profession, along with the skills that chemical engineers need for future development and success. As AIChE adapts to support the chemical engineering community and its members, Young Professionals' roles will be of great significance in shaping the future. A Young Professional will be actively engaged in AIChE defining new training programs and initiatives, for example, ensuring the Institute prepares its members personally and professionally for future opportunities. Young Professionals are the pioneers of the next generation of chemical engineering working in new and emerging technology areas. They have the unique opportunity for helping the Institute modernize our approach with new technologies while remaining true to our core foundation, and the foundation of chemical engineering. This is the key challenge facing the Institute where Young Professionals can make a significant contribution with your vision, passion, and commitment. Young Professionals will bring a fresh outlook, while preserving the original 1908 AIChE mission to unify chemical engineers and create an identity separate from chemists and other engineering professionals. My hope is that each and every one of you will embrace this opportunity, volunteer your time, and become future leaders of AIChE.
I see three elements of the role of Young Professionals. First, their thoughts and insights about the present and the future, as well as their experiences in transitioning from school to practice, need to be expressed, so that all in AIChE leadership can take them into account going forward. Second, they should interact with students to share the career and service opportunities that AIChE provides, and to guide the next generation toward its most effective professional development. Third, over time they should assume a variety of AIChE leadership positions, so that they can contribute broadly and find those areas that give them the greatest satisfaction.
Young Professionals (YPs) are the future leaders of AIChE and the chemical industry in general. As future leaders, YPs should volunteer for active participation in the various activities and committees of AIChE, focusing on the opportunities of existing and emerging technologies. Green energy, renewable feedstock, plant design for low emissions and safe operation for environmental protection are examples of issues that YPs could focus on. YPs should volunteer to serve on the technical divisions of the institute, operating councils and programming committees for national meetings for the opportunities to shape the future direction of AIChE. The other role I see for YPs in the institute is that of growth of the institute through membership recruitment and retention. This will ensure the financial strength and viability of the institute in the future for the benefit of all members. YPs can do this through network in their places of work to encourage former AIChE members, especially former student members, to rejoin the institute. Participation in local chapter meetings and activities could be used to interest such members into joining the institute.
Working with college students daily, the most common question I am asked is, "What are the daily lives of working engineers like?" Young Professionals have a unique ability to connect to high school and college students and to provide them with an understanding of the range of jobs and experiences our profession can offer. These connections can be through mentoring, involvement in outreach programs, and other interactions - perhaps using social media or other platforms more effectively than AIChE has done thus far. This role mirrors the responsibility that senior members of our organization have to serve as mentors for younger members to help them develop their career. As a Director, I intend to promote these kinds of interactions throughout AIChE.
The role of Young Professionals in AIChE parallels the role they will play in the profession as a whole. Demographics for many chemical engineering sectors show that over half the workforce will be eligible to retire within the next ten years. This elevated attrition rate comes at a time when new hydraulic fracturing technology has increased access to unconventional oil and natural gas resources in the United States and is expected to create as many as a million new jobs in our petrochemical industry and the associated supply chain. As the job market expands Young Professionals will be stepping into leadership roles, both at work and in AIChE, at a much younger age that in previous decades. They will be responsible for shaping and positioning the Institute to continue to be effective and relevant during this period of expansion in the domestic chemical industry.
Young Professionals are the key to shaping the future of AIChE. They are the leaders in a new generation of engineers fluent in social media and technology based platforms that connect us to the world. The key to success for AIChE is empowering young professionals to solve problems in a collaborative environment that includes peer-to-peer groups and networks.