January 2016 Message from AIChE President, Gregory Stephanopoulos

As I assume the 2016 presidency of the Institute, I would like to extend to all chemical engineers - along with my wishes for a happy new year - a message of optimism about the future prospects of chemical engineering and the AIChE. Thanks to the vigilant efforts of its Board of Directors, professional staff, and volunteers, the Institute is starting the new year on sound financial footing, proud of many accomplishments, and with great prospects for growth in critical areas of the profession. In the past few years, we have seen the energy of the Institute come into sharp focus on five major activities.

The Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS)

Through CCPS, AIChE is now the global leader in process safety. It is advancing safety-related technologies, disseminating best practices, and educating chemical engineers at all levels about the merits and practice of safe operations in industrial facilities, as well as in laboratories.

Industry Technology Groups (ITGs)

In addition to CCPS, the Society for Biological Engineering (SBE), the Center for Energy Initiatives (CEI), and other ITGs are providing mechanisms of robust engagement for AIChE members, as well as a bridge by which chemical engineers active in new areas of chemical engineering can maintain their connection with the Institute. Expanding this model, the AIChE Board recently approved the formation of a new Society for Regenerative Engineering and a group to promote chemical research. Globalization. International outreach remains a major focus of AIChE. Last year saw a significant increase in international student membership, and AIChE is actively promoting its programs in the Middle East, China, and other parts of the world.

AIChE Academy

AIChE continues to expand its educational offerings, helping chemical engineers develop skills in areas of importance to professional practice. Critical areas of instructional need have been identified and prioritized, and high-quality content is being developed to meet those needs.

The AIChE Foundation

In existence since 1990, the Foundation has been reinvigorated through the great efforts of its chair, Peter Lederman. The Foundation is raising funds for undergraduate education in process safety, scholarships for underrepresented minorities, local section start-up grants, endowments for named Institute lectureships, and many other projects. The Foundation is also building an endowment that will ensure the support of similar worthwhile AIChE activities and programs in perpetuity. AIChE members’ continuing support of the Foundation is critical for the long-term well-being of chemical engineering.

AIChE today is strong, growing, and investing for the future. In a fast-changing environment, it is continuously reviewing the challenges associated with the preservation of the chemical engineering fundamentals and their extension to new industries that benefit tremendously from the application of the core ChE principles. In many newly emerging fields, it is now common to encounter prominent chemical engineers as lead editors of high-impact journals, star speakers at major conferences, and main inventors of cutting-edge technologies. Just the same, intellectual leaders in core subjects of chemical engineering (reaction engineering, process systems engineering, separations, to name just a few) occasionally find venues outside of AIChE to present their most current and exciting work.

While it is gratifying to watch the appreciation shown to our profession’s leaders and the broad application of chemical engineering’s core principles to diverse areas, it is also critical to retain this intellectual power within AIChE. The value of a professional organization is assessed to a large extent by its ability to attract the thought leaders of the profession, and thus serve as the intellectual hub of new technology development and its industrial applications. Dynamic conferences where the newest and most exciting results are presented, along with journals disseminating far-reaching, high-impact new inventions and ideas, are the best ways to ensure that AIChE remains at the forefront of intellectual advances in the field.

I invite all chemical engineers who may have found more convenient homes for their work in other societies or forums to consider the new AIChE as the place where they can get the most for their research and development advances. In the same vein, I am happy to note the launching of a new journal, Bioengineering & Translational Medicine, with Samir Mitragotri as Editor-in-Chief and a brilliant Editorial Board, to strengthen the presence of AIChE in translational biomedical research. More will follow in the near future.

The chemical engineering core is the most precious asset of our profession. AIChE will do its utmost to preserve and advance this core. To this end, AIChE wants to be home to the intellectual leaders of chemical engineering who are nurturing the core and also advancing it in the new, exciting areas of chemical engineering endeavor. This will ensure that the profession serves well its traditional industries while nurturing the new frontiers of chemical engineering, and maintains its leadership in 21st century industries that are based on chemistry and biology as enabling sciences.

Gregory Stephanopoulos

AIChE 2016 President

See Gregory's Profile