Interview with Dr. Nam Sun Wang, UMD Student Chapter Advisor

Dr. Nam Sun Wang, associate professor at University of Maryland Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, has served as an AIChE volunteer leader for many years. Dr. Wang has served as University of Maryland Student Chapter's faculty advisor for over 20 years and is also serving as past chair of the National Capital Local Section. Dr. Wang has graciously agreed to share his AIChE experiences in an interview with AIChE's Executive Student Committee (ESC).

How long have you been the faculty advisor for the AIChE Student Chapter at University of Maryland, College Park?

~20 years, and involved as a faculty advisor for 30+ years. In the years I was not officially a faculty advisor, one of the students’ favorite warm-up questions in a general board meeting was “Who is the faculty advisor?” and most students would incorrectly answer that question.

What keeps you so engaged in AIChE year after year? 

After all, it is the professional organization for chemical engineers. It is the best place to connect with colleagues elsewhere. In the local chapter (National Capital Section), it is the best place to connect with those in my neighborhood. In the student chapter, it is where we connect with students beyond the classroom (and other students in my department who do not take my courses).

In your eyes, how has AIChE as an institution changed over the years? 

Although I have no supporting statistics, and because my friends in AIChE are also all getting older along with me, an average member seems to be getting older to me. AIChE needs an infusion of young people.

In your experience, how has the AIChE Student Chapter at University of Maryland, College Park changed over the years? 

Students’ involvement goes up and down, mainly depending on the enthusiasm of the executive board members. The UMCP Student Chapter is more independent recently (in planning/executing activities) and does not involve me as much as it did years ago.

What Student Chapter achievement are you most proud of? 

There are many. If I have to pick a recent one, it would be organizing/hosting a regional conference in 2015, because there were a lot of big/small tasks involved in organizing such an event, and the students pulled it off beautifully.

How has the Student Chapter at your school influenced the students? 

It brings the student body together in my department.  Some of the Student Chapter’s activities are professional development, and those make students think about their careers early on.

What was the most memorable moment serving as the Chapter’s faculty advisor? 

Not one single moment — participating in plant/field trips organized by the student chapter.

What advice do you have for other chapter advisors?

Because students come through briefly, they have short memory/history and do not see what went on only a couple years ago. It takes only one year of low activity or one missed baton exchange to have to start completely from square one (e.g., submitting plan of organization to be recognized as a legitimate campus student organization, application of 501c status, opening up a bank account, previous plant/field trip contacts, etc.).

What advice do you have for Chapters’ student leadership? 

Step up and lead. You have an opportunity to fail and that lesson does not cost you much. Fail or succeed, your leadership experience will serve you well way into the future.


Nikhil Elias's picture

Can you help me with the methods used for relief calculations of safety relief devices PRDs. Thank you Nikhil Elias New member Stoke, New Zealand