The 35 Under 35 Award Winners: A Sneak Peek

A CEO. An attorney. Two company co-founders. Two senior process engineers. Twelve professors.

They work for large organizations, public and private universities, and small startup companies. They hail from all over the globe, but they all have one thing in common: They are among the winners of AIChE’s inaugural 35 Under 35 Award.

AIChE and the Young Professionals Committee (YPC), with support from the AIChE Foundation, are recognizing 35 outstanding young professional AIChE members with the 35 Under 35 Award. These individuals, who are all under the age of 35, have made significant contributions to the Institute and to the chemical engineering profession.

The award was created to acknowledge the successes of some of the Institute’s youngest members and promote the achievements of the young professionals who are changing the face of chemical engineering. The winners exemplify the best our profession has to offer and they represent the full breadth of early ChE career paths — from those who chose to pursue industry jobs, to graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, academic faculty, and entrepreneurs.

The project committee received over 80 submissions. Each award winner was nominated for one of seven categories: bioengineering (7 winners), chemicals (1 winner), energy (3 winners), innovation (7 winners), education
(6 winners), leadership (7 winners), and safety (4 winners).

All award winners are members of AIChE and have been involved in many different aspects of the Institute. Many have held leadership positions with the YPC or were leaders of university student chapters. Several award recipients currently hold leadership roles in divisions and forums, including the Process Development Div., Management Div., and Chemical Engineering and the Law Forum, as well as on the Societal Impact Operating Council.

Each award recipient followed a unique path toward the chemical engineering profession. “I originally wanted to become a doctor, so I decided to pursue engineering to differentiate myself from all of the other pre-med students. However, after the first semester of engineering, I decided to stay within engineering because I loved the problem-solving,” says one award winner who works for a global agrochemical company. Another winner states, “I wanted a career that was guaranteed to be intellectually stimulating for the entirety of my working life.” An award recipient who co-founded his own company decided to pursue chemical engineering because he “enjoyed applying mathematics to interesting problems.” He continues, “The ability to bring unique applications to model systems makes chemical engineering versatile and unique."

For these 35 young ChEs, it’s not all about work. Many of them take the time to pursue a plethora of hobbies and stay in shape. For example, one winner completed a team half-Ironman in 2016 and is an avid road cycler. Another has completed two marathons and had the opportunity to backpack the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in 3.5 days. Another recipient states: “I have run- or bike-commuted to and from work nearly every day for the last 15 years (which now includes me pushing or pulling my two-year-old daughter!).”

Many of the award winners have started families while pursuing their professional goals, and several cited their children or significant others as being a major source of inspiration or motivation. “The personal achievement I am most proud of is being a working mom. I hope to inspire my kids to work hard but still have a balance of work and play,” says one winner from an oil and gas licensing company. A winner who works as an attorney states, “Despite my shortcomings, I have a smart, beautiful wife (who is also a chemical engineer), and together we have two wonderful daughters. They are what I am most proud of.”

What is most remarkable about these 35 engineers is the goals that they have for the future. Although they work for a variety of industries and organizations, they all have great aspirations that will benefit our profession and society as a whole. One recipient states, “As globally oriented solutions rooted in chemical engineering and technology become more prevalent, I believe it is of the utmost importance for chemical engineers to continue finding ways to communicate a full understanding of the subject matter to the general public. I hope to continue volunteering and working for organizations that promote this effort.” Another winner writes, “I want to continue growing my group into a world-class research program on the cutting edge of diabetes and regenerative medicine research in order to make a real difference in patients’ lives.” A third winner aspires “to develop bioprocess technologies that improve environmental sustainability and human health for applications in biochemicals, food science, and renewable fuels.” Likely, many of these winners will be future industry leaders.

The AIChE 35 Under 35 Award recipients will be officially announced in the August issue of CEP. They will be featured on the ChEnected blog, in AIChE Engage discussions, and on social media throughout the year, and they will be celebrated during an awards reception at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN (Oct. 29–Nov. 3, 2017). Each honoree will receive $500 and a commemorative plaque. Stay tuned for upcoming posts here on ChEnected for more detail on the winners.

This article originally appeared in the July 2017 issue of CEP magazine