January 2015 Message from AIChE President, Cheryl Teich

To many of us, a new year signals a fresh start, a new beginning, a time to roll out the old and usher in the new. The reality is that time is a continuum, and there’s nothing magical about turning the calendar page to a new number. For me, however, the first day of 2015 is the first day of my AIChE presidency, a role I take on with excitement, awe, and a deep sense of responsibility to the profession and to the global chemical engineering community. AIChE has a tradition of strong, dedicated, leadership that I intend to uphold, and a growing family of chemical engineering professionals who deserve the best I can bring to the AIChE presidency.

You should know that I come to the Institute presidency as a working engineer with 32 years of experience in the traditional chemical process industry. Over that time, the industry, the profession, and the world have changed greatly. My personal journey over that time has taught me that in order to progress in any effort, it’s important to finish what has been started and to face and resolve conflict openly and honestly.

How does that translate to my plan of action for 2015? In 2014, at the request of the Board of Directors, AIChE developed a “New Biz” review process, designed to strengthen the Institute’s project portfolio. We launched the plan to ensure that the projects AIChE takes on make financial sense, that they are appropriately resourced, and that they support both the Institute’s mission and you, the members. The New Biz review process was developed between the Spring and Summer Board meetings, approved by the Board in June, and applied to AIChE’s 2015 budget. Our goal is to apply the portfolio management philosophy to AIChE’s volunteer activities as well, to use our most valuable resource - our volunteers - most effectively.

I am continually impressed with the level of dedication and service that our volunteer leadership demonstrates. The New Biz development plan is one example of volunteer dedication; its completion is in no small way due to the contributions of Tom Degnan, a 2013–2015 Board Director.

How do we continue to identify, nurture, and support effective leaders in our community? Leadership development is a plank of AIChE’s recently updated strategic mission. I know from my own experience how valuable this is to individuals, as well as to the organization. AIChE is currently designing a new Leadership Development program, and I have been conducting discussions with volunteer leaders to understand how they define leadership. What do you think?

Another key interest for me is ensuring the continuity of traditional chemical engineering fundamentals. Over the past 30 years, chemical engineering has expanded to encompass many nontraditional industries, and the curriculum has expanded accordingly. At the same time, as discussed in the recent AIChE Journal article, “Evolving Trends in Chemical Engineering Education” by Arvind Varma and Ignacio Grossmann (CEP, Nov. 2014, p. 14), many chemical engineering graduate degrees are awarded to people with undergraduate degrees in other disciplines.

Some members of the industrial community have voiced concern that this has resulted in less of a focus on some of chemical engineering’s fundamentals. AIChE began discussing this topic at a 2013 San Francisco Annual Meeting session (“Chemical Engineering Expertise in Academe and as Sought by Industry” chaired by John C. Chen and James C. Hill), and we will continue the discussion at an NSF-funded workshop in March 2015.

Another area near and dear to my heart is the debut of the AIChE Academy, intended to offer training in targeted skills for new engineers. The Academy is an expansion of AIChE’s established, successful, continuing education program - and its business model was the test case for the New Biz review process. We recruited a team of seasoned industrial professionals to identify and prioritize the most relevant subject areas for the Academy to develop. The Academy working team is yet another example of volunteer leaders contributing to our profession, and I want to thank them for their dedication and service. I look forward to ensuring the success of the Academy.

The working team identified process safety as Topic Number One for the Academy. While not surprising, this is particularly appropriate for 2015 when AIChE celebrates the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS). The CCPS anniversary year will be capstoned by the 2015 AIChE Gala, where we will honor contributions and progress in process safety. The 2015 Gala is an event I look forward to in marking what I hope will be a happy, productive, and successful presidency year.

President’s Corner

New Business in a New Year

My best wishes to all!

Cheryl Teich AIChE 2015 President

See Cheryl's Profile

Note: This message is also published in the January 2015 issue of CEP Magazine.