AIChE Foundation Establishes John C. Chen Endowment for Young Professional Leadership

Friends and colleagues of the late John C. Chen are building an AIChE endowment fund to support the leadership development of young chemical engineers.  

John C. Chen was the Carl R. Anderson Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at Lehigh University, an AIChE Fellow, and an AIChE past president.  

In a letter announcing the campaign, L.S. Fan, chair of the John Chen Endowment Steering Committe, described Chen and his vision as follows:

The consummate role model for young professionals who believed wholeheartedly that their leadership development was a priority for the advancement of the profession and the betterment of society.

The associated fundraising campaign for the John C. Chen Endowment for Young Professional Leadership was announced in April at the 2018 AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety.  

John C. Chen's Accomplishments

  • Chen, who died in 2013, was a scholar of transport phenomena in multiphase systems and a pioneer in heat transfer theory and practice.  
  • After earning his PhD in chemical engineering at the Univ. of Michigan, he performed research at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
  • In 1970, Chen joined the faculty at Lehigh University, where his broad expertise enabled him to be a professor of both mechanical and chemical engineering.  
  • Chen chaired the Lehigh chemical engineering department (1983-2001) and served as dean of Lehigh's P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science (1999-2001).

Chen also held wide-ranging leadership roles in AIChE, including the following:

  • He chaired the Heat Transfer and Energy Conversion Div. in 1983 and in the early 1990s, and was a founding member and leader of the Particle Technology Forum (PTF).  
  • He was elected as an AIChE director (1994-1997), Institute secretary (2001-2003), and served as AIChE President in 2006.
  • During his presidency, AIChE saw the launch of its Energy Initiative and the International Committee.
  • His honors include AIChE's D.Q. Kern Award, the Heat Transfer and Energy Conversion Div. Award, and the PTF's Thomas Baron Award in Fluid-Particle Systems. 
  • Some of his international honors include the Max Planck Research Prize and the inaugural World Scientific Award in Boiling and Condensing Heat Transfer (2012).

More on the John C. Chen Endowment Fund

  • The fund was seeded with a donation from Kathy Chen, John's wife of 57 years, who approached the AIChE Foundation with an idea to honor, in perpetuity, John's personal commitment to both AIChE and to inspiring future generations of chemical engineers.
  • The endowment will provide annual financial support to cover expenses of two young professionals on the track to leadership at the AIChE Annual Meeting, where they will participate in PEAK leadership training sessions.
  • Additional funds will be made available for tailored online training opportunities throughout the year.
  • To date, the campaign has raised nearly two-thirds of its $100K goal for 2018.

For more information about the John C. Chen Endowment for Young Professional Leadership, or to learn about other initiatives of the AIChE Foundation, visit