Meet the 2017 Board Election Candidates – Part 2: Getting Involved

Voting for next year's AIChE Board of Directors is under way as of August 28th at Have your say and help direct the future of AIChE by voting!

The Young Professionals Committee (YPC) asked potential members of AIChE's board four 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 may not see responses from every candidate for every question. Answers are shown in alphabetical order by position and the candidate's last name.

In addition to learning about the candidates here, you can also learn more about candidates and the election process on the AIChE election page

Q: If a young professional wants to get more involved in AIChE, what steps do you think he or she should take? 

For President-Elect

John J. Ekerdt

Show up, look around, gravitate toward groups or activities that resonate with your interests, and ask how you can get engaged. AIChE offers many venues in which one can show up; it offers local sections, virtual local sections, the spring and fall meetings, the People and Community link on the AIChE homepage, and AIChE’s Volunteer Central to name a few. Ask yourself why you want to get more involved. Answer this question as you look around; it will help narrow your search. Is it to network, is it for fulfillment you get from serving others, is it to grow professionally, is it to check a box on your resume, etc.? If you have a mentor, ask that individual what they did and how they got started. The increasing demands on your time by your career will put a premium on your personal time. Whether you contribute service to an activity or lead an activity, it will require a time commitment. So join groups because you find fulfillment personally or professionally in the activity and because the other volunteers are fun to be with. You have to be proactive and let the leadership of any program/activity/group know you are interested. Volunteers are crucial to AIChE so your offer to get involved will be welcomed.

See bio

Kimberly Ogden

I think it is important to find your passion within the Institute. Are you interested in Engineers Without Borders, continuing education, safety, outreach, education, or a particular area of expertise (pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, materials, etc.)? If so, then the easiest way to get involved is to join a division or forum, since they cover many of the technical areas as well as education. If you are more interested in outreach, then start by contacting SIOC leadership. If you are in a region that has an active local section, then this is an excellent place to make contacts. My local section helped my husband get a position. Some local sections have a special subsection for young professionals, and if yours does not, you could start one. You do need to be a little assertive and make contact with existing leaders, but we are always looking for more volunteers to continue to make AIChE relevant. Finally, if you have a new idea, you can contact someone on staff, and potentially you could apply for funding from the AIChE Foundation to start a new program. This is how the new "brewing" competition is being funded this year.

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For Treasurer

Rosemarie D. Wesson

Step up and volunteer. There are numerous activities within AIChE where young professionals could participate and grow. Initially, starting at the local level may be a first step; however, session chair opportunities and division and forum positions are available on the national level.

I remember when I began my involvement in AIChE I was a graduate student giving presentations at national meetings. I progressed to chairing and co-chairing sessions; then to volunteering to work with the planning sessions, but recommending other members to chair the sessions. This may not sound difficult, but convincing other AIChE members to chair sessions provides a great opportunity to lead.

From there I volunteered for actual leadership positions inside a division, which then progressed to becoming a member of one of the operating councils in AIChE. As a young person I remember being intimidated by these roles. Thinking that the people who occupied the roles prior to me must have had a great deal more experience. However, I learned the people of AIChE are very accepting and will work with members who volunteer their time to the organization.

Local sections are also a good way to begin and continue sustained involvement with AIChE. I have been active in local sections, but I have to admit that I started my involvement on the national level (with research presentations) and then became more involved on the local level.

See bio

For Director

Kristi S. Anseth

I was surprised by recent statistics from ASAE's report, "The Decision to Volunteer." Some of the main reasons that members do not volunteer are: 1. They do not have enough information about opportunities (39%). 2. They volunteer elsewhere (25%) and 3. They were never asked (29%). I greatly value the capabilities of young professionals, and AIChE needs your input, service and advice. To get involved, I would first seek AIChE activities that match your passion. Check out AIChE Engage and Volunteer Central on AIChE's website, and on a more personal level, talk to a mentor or colleague who is active in AIChE about how they got involved. Second, volunteering is not only an opportunity for you to help others, but it can also provide a personal benefit by increasing your visibility, developing leadership skills, growing your technical network, etc. One of my goals as a Board member will be to encourage and direct committee chairs and leaders to ask and include the younger generation and their perspective in its activities. My practical advice is direct communication. Ask for opportunities, especially those that interest you the most, and our leaders must be part of the equation and ask young professionals to serve.

See bio

Raymond A. Cocco

The AIChE has taken many steps to embrace our young professionals as they are the future. Still, more needs to be done to make the transition from school to job to leader easier.

Today, as a young professional, you should first engage with your local chapter. By engage, I mean more than attending. Volunteer for a job role, run for office. You are going to have to be bold here. Opportunities are made and rarely given.

Next, plan on attending the AIChE Spring or Annual Meeting. Your company may not want to foot the bill here which is always a problem. I remember when I was trying to go to my first AIChE Annual meeting outside of school. My manager said no on three different occasions. Each time I presented him with more evidence on why it would be good for me and the company to go. On the forth try, he said yes, probably just to be rid of me I suspect.

When I return, I made sure he did not regret his decision. I had a detailed report ready for him on my first day back at the job. Key areas of research were further explored with coworkers. I made this a win-win decision for my manager as well as for myself.

Next, consider presenting a paper at one of the AIChE conferences. It does not matter what your degree level is or what area you are working in, there is a session that needs you. Get on that podium and teach what others need to learn from your own experiences.

Finally, help the AIChE organize. They have many programs that need your talent and help. Best part, it's actually fun doing it.

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Anthony F. Fregosi

First they should seek out and become involved in their local section. Then they should attend as much as is possible the Spring and Annual Meetings. The "auxiliary" meetings of the various committees and operating councils are invaluable to gaining a deeper understanding of the organizational and leadership structure of the Institute and where you might best want and be able to contribute.

They should also look toward joining any number of division and or forums that fit with their interests.

Finally, discussing your interests and desires to serve in a greater capacity with other AIChE members (particularly with AIChE Fellows) is a good way to learn in greater detail the opportunities that may be available.

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Alon V. McCormick

Volunteer for service opportunities locally and at the national/international level. The Young Professionals Committee offers an excellent platform to become familiar with divisions, forums, programming groups, and committees of AIChE that have as part of their responsibility to attract and recruit new voices and energy. Watch the new developments in AIChE Engage, especially Volunteer Central, to look for small-scale obligations that can afford you the chance to make a manageable contribution while forging new working relationships. You will get new perspectives on how chemical engineering as a profession offers distinctive value to society, you will meet many people who provide for you valuable examples, some role models, many learning opportunities and professional development challenges —– all of which will complement the ways that you will grow within your own organization. AIChE can serve as your professional home as your career takes on new developments and challenges (some planned, some unforeseen). Pragmatically thinking, service in AIChE as a Young Professional can pay dividends in “external visibility” and reputation, which can often help in mid-career promotions or career moves. Moreover, you will find ways, both small and large, to influence others in the profession and to help shape the profession. 

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Lori T. McDowell

Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer! The best way to get the most out of AIChE is to be an active member — give a paper, chair a session, join a division or forum, join a local section and run for a position — division director is a great first step. Once you get involved, you really get to know people and your networking and educational opportunities expand. Most divisions and forums and local sections would be happy to have your help, so don't be afraid to ask what you can get involved in.

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Timothy J. Olsen

I would recommend joining an AIChE division or forum that best represents your interests and work. You will connect with peers that have the same interests, challenges, and industry terminology for communication. After joining a division or forum, look to volunteer with chairing a session for an upcoming event, or assist in a committee. As you gain more experience with the division or forum, you will be able to take on additional leadership roles.

In addition to divisions and forums, there are also local sections that can also provide opportunity to connect with peers without having to travel to a national event.

Finally, there is the virtual connection with no boundaries. You can ask questions or provide input yourself based on your own experiences.

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Mark A. Stadtherr

Today there are many routes to becoming actively involved in AIChE. Attending an AIChE Local Section meeting would be one good place to start. Several local sections even have a special Young Professionals Group, and there are opportunities for starting such groups at other local sections. If no local section is geographically convenient for you, consider participating in the AIChE Virtual Local Section, which holds monthly online meetings. You can also connect with other chemical engineers via ChEnected, AIChE’s interactive online community. You could get involved by volunteering to contribute a blog post on a topic of interest to you. You can discover other volunteer activities by joining AIChE Volunteer Central. Join this pool of volunteers and learn about many ways that you can contribute. Through the AIChE Young Professionals Committee (YPC), young professionals have been instrumental in developing these and other routes for getting more involved in AIChE. You can join the YPC mailing list to keep informed about their activities, or you can contact the YPC directly to indicate your interest in more actively participating in the young professionals community. If you have the opportunity, attend one of the AIChE national meetings. You will find that there is considerable programming and other activities, both technical and social, that have been organized by the YPC specifically for the young professional and geared towards encouraging your active participation in AIChE. As you become more and more active in AIChE, you may also want to become involved with a particular AIChE Division or Forum or Industry Technology Group. Here there are opportunities for participation in more focused activities matching your own specific technical interests. Whichever route you take to becoming more involved in AIChE activities, I think you will find them to be personally and professional rewarding.

See bio