Sister Chapter Spotlight – March 2018

The AIChE Sister Chapter Program was established to help connect AIChE Student Chapters globally as well as to facilitate in the professional development of its student members. Under the Sister Chapter Program, a sisterhood is a formalized partnership between an International Student Chapter and a Domestic Student Chapter. The Executive Student Committee (ESC) of AIChE is excited to bring you monthly Sister Chapter spotlights to feature outstanding Sister Chapters.

During this month’s Sister Chapter spotlight, we are pleased to introduce you to the dynamic Sister Chapter duo made up of the student chapters from Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín from Medellín, Colombia, and University of Michigan from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. We asked each chapter to answer a different set of questions about their experience and compiled their responses below.

How many miles separate your student chapter from the University of Michigan’s student chapter and how do you keep in touch with your sister chapter from afar?

Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín: Although we are in the same time zone, the distance between both chapters is quite considerable. There are 2,529.50 mi which separate our student chapter from University of Michigan’s but it is not an obstacle because we try to remain in touch through social media, especially Facebook. Also, we have exchanged our Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook profiles to get closer with each other and we aim to meet at least our counterpart in Michigan’s board.

Do your chapters have any shared goals or projects that you’re working on as a team?

University of Michigan: We are working towards getting both chapters more involved on social media. By keeping up with posts on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, we can get to know each other and see our different cultures through a more personal lens.

Tell us a little bit more about the last communication you had with your sister chapter.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín: The last activity that we planned was a Recipe Exchange, where each chapter sent a recipe from their country with instructions of how to prepare the dish. The idea was to swap traditional recipes and then each chapter could share what they thought of the dish and what their experience was preparing it. We enjoyed cooking “authentic Italian meatballs” as well as they did preparing “chicken with rice” or “arroz con pollo.”

Now we are working on a video to show them our favorite places at our university and in Medellín. Also we are planning on sending them a little presentation with some common equipment used in chemical engineering to teach them their Spanish names.

How has being a part of the sister chapter program brought you closer to AIChE? Have you begun taking advantage of any new benefits or competitions that are available to students?

University of Michigan: We never imagined being able to say that we have friends in Colombia – it is an incredible and humbling opportunity that has made us appreciate AIChE more as a whole. I presented on Sister Chapter relations at the AIChE national conference this past fall, and it was an awesome chance to share and get new ideas on how to grow even closer with our Colombian counterpart.

What is your chapter’s biggest challenge or opportunity for improvement and how will your partnership with the University of Michigan’s student chapter help you to tackle that challenge?

Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín: The biggest opportunity that we have in our partnership is the experience that the University of Michigan’s student chapter has and can share with us, because they are one of the oldest chapters in the world and they have experience organizing activities with companies and motivating students to participate. Hence, having them as a sister chapter gives us confidence and makes us feel supported when we need advice. For example, in their visit last year in March, they shared with us some key points in regards to how to become closer to companies in order to have meetings, plant visits, and securing sponsorships. Those are important points that we want to improve, and we can learn from their experience.

On the other hand, it is always useful to practice our English with them, because nowadays it is really important in industry. Our partnership gives our members a reminder of the importance of learning new languages, especially English, to communicate with others and to learn from them.

What has been the most rewarding part of your sister chapter partnership with Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín so far?

University of Michigan: Our sister chapter was so grateful and proud to be a part of a T-shirt exchange with us at the national conference. I see them wearing our shirts all the time on social media, and it makes me so happy to see how such a simple gesture was so special to them.

What advice do you have for student chapters that are thinking about getting involved in the Sister Chapter Program?

Universidad Nacional de Colombia sede Medellín: One of the most important things to keep in mind when you start to get involved with a sister chapter is to not lose interest and to keep in touch with them. Sometimes it can be really difficult because we are all students with a lot of things to do, but it is always great when in spite of the distance you can do something with ChemE friends and enjoy it. Doing this, you start to find out that it’s possible to overcome barriers and learn in a fun way.

Have your chapter members ever met in person? Do you have plans to do so in the future?

University of Michigan: Last March we sent two of our chapter’s members to Colombia to Procesa, an annual conference held by AIChE at our sister chapter’s university. Additionally, we had a great time meeting with members of our sister chapter at the most recent Annual Student Conference. Although we do not plan on attending Procesa this year, we are excited to see them again at the next Annual Student Conference!

For more information on the Sister Chapter Program, check out the website here. Questions can be sent to