Sister Chapter Spotlight - May 2018

During this month’s Sister Chapter Spotlight, the Executive Student Committee (ESC) is pleased to introduce you to the sister chapter duo made up of the student chapters from the University of Delaware (UD) from Delaware, USA, and Universidad Nacional de Colombia, sede Bogotá (UNAL Bogotá) from Bogotá, Colombia.

The pair became sister chapters in January of 2018. In the first few months of their sisterhood, the two chapters have found creative ways to share what the experience is like visiting their city and college campus. UNAL Bogotá created a video discussing the ecology, social and cultural aspects, tourism, and cuisine local to Bogotá. In turn, the University of Delaware shared a virtual tour of their campus. We asked each chapter to answer a different set of questions about their experiences as new sister chapters and what future plans they have under the Sister Chapter Program.

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

UNAL Bogotá: Approximately 2,414 miles separate us, but it can really feel like we are just neighbors -- after all, we share the same time zone when the US isn't observing daylight savings time. We keep in touch via WhatsApp, texting each other when we need to. We also schedule meetings via Skype to arrange activities for both chapters. Sharing the same time zone and a similar academic calendar makes communication and planning easier and really opens up many possibilities for organizing different activities like watching a sports game together. We also send emails to each other or share documents on the cloud. 

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

UD: Yes. Our main project that we have been working on is the exchange of culture between universities. With University of Delaware consisting of mostly American citizens, especially students from  Mid-Atlantic states and New England, and UNAL Bogotá consisting of mostly Colombian students, there is a lot of potential for learning about each other. We have already done a video exchange about our cities and universities, and plan to do another exchange with more information. From our first videos, we discovered how drastically different the locations and cultures of our universities are. We plan on expanding our cultural exchanges to include more about our primary languages, recipe exchanges, and even a candy exchange!

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

UNAL Bogotá: Our last communication was via WhatsApp where we talked about an activity we were planning to do: an executive board introduction video. A more memorable moment was probably a video conference held two months ago where various members of both executive boards could meet and introduce themselves. We hope we can schedule more meetings so we can share ideas and meet more amazing people! 

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?

UD: Our participation in the Sister Chapter Program has brought us much closer to AIChE. In our eyes, AIChE is about connecting chemical engineers from around the world with each other. While we all share the same major, our experiences and education are drastically different. By giving us the opportunity to get to know chemical engineers from another country, you are allowing us to expand our learning to another level. Being part of the program allows us to connect globally, instead of being an isolated group on one college campus. Although we have not had an opportunity to enter any competitions together yet, we look forward to cooperating through our Chem-E-Car® programs in the future!

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

UNAL Bogotá: Our biggest challenge is related to corporate ties and funding. Although we organize plant tours frequently, we do not have the sponsorship or funding of any company, and that is something our sister chapter has experience in. We hope we can learn from them so we can strengthen our own chapter. Our biggest opportunity has to do with the Chem-E-Car Competition®. We have experience competing regularly in Chem-E-Car. We placed fifth in the 2016 ASC Chem-E-Car Competition held in San Francisco and placed first in the 2016 Regional Student Competition in Medellín, Colombia. We would be really happy to help our sister chapter develop its Chem-E-Car program even further. After all, we became sister chapters to share everything we have to offer and learn from each other. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your sister chapter partnership with UNAL Bogotá so far?

UD: The most rewarding part of our exchange so far has been the amount of students from both universities that have wanted to get involved in the exchange. We have had many students involved in making the videos on both sides. I am proud of the amount of people that have wanted to be involved. I would love to continue to expose as many people as possible to the exchange. Although we have had Skype sessions between chapter leadership, the goal is to have a Skype session between our general bodies soon!

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

UNAL Bogotá: Do it! It is really an enriching experience; it only has benefits. You will learn to work with people from other countries, you will be introduced to amazing people and cultures, you will experience how chemical engineering works around the world, and you will definitely have fun planning whatever activities you come up with. 

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

UD: We have not been able to meet up in person yet, as the partnership was formed in January of 2018. However, our chapter sends about ten people a year to the Annual Student Conference and our sister chapter sends at least one person a year. We hope to be able to meet up at the 2018 Annual Student Conference in Pittsburgh!

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