Program Chair Invites You to Meet the Executives

I recently caught up with Sipho Ndlela, senior process engineer at Owens Corning, and program chair of the upcoming Meet the Executives: Innovating for a Sustainable Future at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

What is your role for the 2017 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis?

In my mind, the best way I can describe my engagement and planning activities with the 2017 Annual Meeting is as the “greatest chemical engineering volunteer opportunity." My role as the MPC is serving the AIChE community and all its members to ensure that the upcoming meeting will be of the highest quality through excellent programming. This requires extensive collaboration, while aligning the outcomes for the 2017 Annual Meeting with the EBPC strategic plans. It’s a great honor to be part of this team with the Co-MPC Dave Reeder, and the programming staff at AIChE.

What was your inspiration for developing the Meet the Executives: Innovating for a Sustainable Future session?

One of the motivating factors for this session came from the impactful “Meet the Presidents” panel session at the 2016 Annual Meeting. Additionally, seeing that the 2017 Annual Meeting has increased programming around manufacturing processes — for example, sessions such as Next Generation Manufacturing, Process Development, Process Intensification, and Food-Energy-Water Nexus, to mention a few — it made sense to incorporate the sustainability and innovation component in this year’s panel discussion from an industry perspective. It is imperative for industry and academia to engage in this topic as both sectors do address a variety of innovative R&D endeavors. So, attendees will also have the opportunity to engage with a diverse industrial panel, which will also share how their individual companies are aligned with the UN’s 17 Sustainability Development Goals.

Tell us about the title “Innovating for a Sustainable Future.”  What does that mean to you?

One cannot ignore the interplay between innovation and sustainability. It’s about merging the two to enhance impact. This should facilitate, for example, developing and delivering high energy efficient processes and providing creative engineering solutions. Moreover, this should drive successful R&D solutions that are socially, environmentally, and safety conscious.

What are you hoping attendees will learn from your event?

The audience will certainly learn about the innovative strides and long-term sustainable solutions these companies are engaged in. This will be an information-exchange discussion from the best in industry. All participants will greatly benefit, which includes academic professionals, industry participants, and attending students. The panel discussion will also serve as a platform for generating ideas upon which one could build complementary sustainable innovative paths.

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Sipho C. Ndlela

Sipho C. Ndlela has a PhD in Chemical Engineering with over 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, paper chemical industry, insulation industry, renewable energy, and academia. Read more.