Sister Chapter Spotlight - August 2018

UBC and UPC Student Chapter members meeting in Barcelona, Spain

In 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 British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona, Spain. The two Student Chapters met last year at the 10th World Congress of Chemical Engineering in Barcelona, Spain while competing in the Chem-E-Car Competition®. The two Chapters discovered their shared interests in Chem-E-Car, beer brewing, and more. UBC and UPC solidified their relationship as Sister Chapters and now pursue their interests together as a team. We asked each Chapter to answer a different set of questions about their experiences as Sister Chapters and what future plans they have for the Sister Chapter Program.

Tell us a little bit more about the last communication you had with your Sister Chapter.

UPC: A few months ago, our Chapters held a Skype call to discuss progress updates on our shared projects. We talked about our Chem-E-Car and beer brewing. We also discussed a new project of producing soap.

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

UBC: Yes, we have 3 shared goals:

  1. Chem-E-Car - We are sharing information about how we make and calibrate our cars to stop accurately at the specified distance and on our methods for powering the car using electrochemical batteries to give UPC insight on what sorts of ideas they can have to power their car. We also presented some of the components we 3D modelled on Solidworks which helped us maximize useable space on our car and visualize the design before a physical prototype was even made. Hopefully, we can assist UPC through showing them these methods.
  2. Beer Brewing - Interestingly, beer brewing employs many chemical engineering principles. Both we and UPC have started a beer brewing component of our Chapters. Our goal is to develop an automated beer brewing process using off-the-shelf components, which integrates heat and mass transfer with process control, among other chemical engineering principles. UPC is developing a plan for a pilot brewery to give fellow students a hands-on, fun experience working on a chemical engineering process. We have shared our progress with UPC and are planning to set up a system that UPC can access to monitor the progress of certain brews.
  3. Chapter Growth - Both of our Chapters aim to grow further and become the bridge between students and ChemE industry or academia. We are working on an exchange program between the two universities, on top of sharing recruitment and marketing strategies.

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?

UBC: Being part of the Sister Chapter Program prompted us to explore what benefits and events are available to both Chapters. On top of the Chem-E-Car and poster competitions, both our Chapters have explored the possibility of meeting and attending certain conferences in the future together, such as the CCPS Latin American Conference on Process Safety. This not only will strengthen the relationship between us, but also expose each of our members to the engineering mindsets in both our cultures. Moreover, collaboration on a joint Chapter event, facilitated through video conferencing services, is being planned for the future.

What is your Chapter’s biggest challenge or opportunity for improvement and how will your partnership with the University of British Columbia Student Chapter help you to tackle that challenge?

UPC: Since we are a small but fast growing Chapter, our projects can sometimes turn out to be a challenge to our teams. Although our creativity is often good enough to solve problems, being Sister Chapters with UBC is always beneficial to us, as they are a bigger and more experienced Chapter. They can always provide advice and we are grateful to count on it. Likewise, we also seek to help UBC with our own unique experiences.

What has been the most rewarding part of your Sister Chapter partnership with UPC so far?

UBC: The most rewarding part is the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded people that have a different perspective on the same projects and goals. Both our Chapters face unique problems, but through collaboration, we can reach our goals of helping both our Chapters improve the quality of events and workshops, giving our respective student bodies better incentive to join AIChE. For example, in the process of improving both of our marketing strategies, we have shared part of our online campaign with UPC. We hope that through sharing these sorts of strategies, both our Chapters can feed off the other and continue to develop.

What advice do you have for Student Chapters thinking about getting involved in the Sister Chapter Program?

UPC: It would be a great opportunity to get involved in AIChE globally. The Sister Chapter program enables students to meet others internationally that may be working on similar projects, allowing us to share advice and knowledge with each other.

Do your Chapters have plans to meet again in the future?

UBC: Our previous members, now alumni of UBC, started a relationship with UPC when they participated in the Chem-E-Car Competition in Barcelona in 2017, but the current members in our Chapter have not yet met the members of UPC. We hope this will change with the implementation of a possible exchange program or meeting at a conference or competition. Communication is kept up through WhatsApp and Slack, and we are working on it tirelessly!

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