Voting for next year's AIChE Board of Directors is under way as of August 27th at http://www.aiche.org/election. Have your say and help direct the future of AIChE by voting!
In this series, the Young Professionals Committee (YPC) asked potential members of AIChE's board four questions about Young Professionals and AIChE. Answers are shown in alphabetical order by position and the candidate's last name.
In addition to learning about the candidates here, you can also learn more about candidates and the election process on the AIChE election page.
Q: If a young professional wants to get more involved in AIChE, what steps do you think he or she should take?
The best way to get involved is to take initiative and to do something. AIChE helps makes that possible. As an AIChE member, I started a list of ideas of how to get involved — and then I asked others what they would suggest. With credit to the Penn State AIChE student chapter, you might decide to attend meetings at a university chapter, join the National AIChE and receive weekly emails, attend the AIChE conference, pursue a leadership role in AIChE, and connect with current members in AIChE via LinkedIn.
It is great that you want to get involved in AIChE. Thanks for considering it. But you might have to do homework to find the right place where you feel welcome and where you can make a difference.
As an undergraduate, I fit in best playing softball with Ron Stapleton and my other classmates. It was easy because I knew everyone in my graduating class.
As a professional, when you attend a meeting, you’ll likely know no one. So, you need to be a little more outgoing than you are comfortable with or might want to invite a friend to join you.
Consider attending a major meeting. Most people attend an Annual or Spring Meeting but there are dozens of smaller meetings. And mention to someone you’d like to get involved.
Or check out the AIChE website and figure out who the leaders are. Connect with one of the leaders and tell them you’d like to get involved. I’ve never been to an AIChE meeting or event where the leadership wasn’t excited about new people who are interested in helping.
Are you interested in connecting with other chemical engineers in your area? Attend your local section meeting or a virtual local section meeting if there is no local section in your area.
Do you have a chemical engineering specialty? Attend the annual meeting and show up at a division or forum’s sessions and maybe even a programming meeting in your area of specialty.
Are you passionate about making the world a better place? Get involved in outreach to students, at a Minority Affairs Committee reception, or through a Women’s Initiative Committee lunch.
Want to get involved in a small task without too much commitment? Try AIChE’s Volunteer Central.
The reasons for getting more involved in AIChE should be to gain greater important values and elements for personal and professional development, as well as to share their benefits with other members and society.
The future of the Institute depends on young professionals becoming fully engaged. With the reduced number of members with ages between YP and Emeritus, our viability and vitality depend on younger members assuming leadership positions earlier in their careers than others in the past. The opportunities for YP impacts are thus very great.
A useful step in finding one’s best connections is to learn about the Institute history, organization, policies, and people. Good sources are the AIChE Activities Directory and the AIChE Annual Report, although just browsing the AIChE website might be sufficient.
Opportunities for volunteering are listed via a link on AIChE Engage. Attending a few local section meetings can provide information and new connections. Continuous and positive engagement always leads to advancements in responsibility and broadening of opportunities for growth and contribution. You might want to reflect on how much time you can devote outside of work, family, and other commitments. Along the way, seek guidance and initiate novel actions; you should expect positive responses, since AIChE has become broader and more open to possibilities than ever before.
The local section is the main way to meet and connect with other AIChE members where you work and live. A young professional can find their local section by searching online at AIChE's webpage.
A young professional can also become involved in AIChE by attending the Spring and Annual Meetings (this year's Annual Meeting is in Pittsburgh and the Spring Meeting is in New Orleans). You can also attend some of the other conferences including the Student Process Safety Bootcamp (held at several schools including Mississippi State, North Carolina State, etc.), the Space Travel: Adaptive Research and Technologies from biological and chemical engineering (STAR Tech) meeting in Houston or the "Innovations in Transforming Waste to Value-Added Products" held at Rutgers University in December. Besides providing new information related to your job, these meetings also provide many networking opportunities and the chance to meet staff members who can answer questions and provide expert advice for getting involved.
But, the best way for a young professional to get involved in AIChE is to stay connected with your college friends who were members of AIChE's student chapter organization and have remained connected as a young professional in their local section. Your personal network can help you identify groups and activities in AIChE that you can become involved with, and the best part is you'll have a friend there to help and guide you to get the most out of your time. If you've lost connection with your college AIChE friends, I recommend you reach out to them and reconnect.
The key to successful involvement starts with finding your passion and tapping into the AIChE opportunities that best align to your personal needs. A great way to get started is through networking events, conferences, local chapters, and connecting with other members eager to share their experiences.
The AIChE Academy is an excellent starting point to connect with the extensive offers that are available for chemical engineers. Whether you are taking the first step in AIChE engagement or you are already actively engaged, there are always opportunities to grow, both in technical understanding and professional skills. I find that developing both technically and professionally allows us to become more effective engineers and leaders, so don’t limit yourself to just one area of focus or engagement.
If you are looking for technical education, leadership development or simply sharing experiences with fellow engineers, AIChE is ready to support you! Find your passion and get involved. There is nothing more rewarding than shaping the future of chemical engineering and giving back to this great profession.
First step, tell someone you want to be more involved — it is easy to get engaged and relatively soon be given more responsibilities, such as in your local section.
Tell someone you want to be more involved - divisions and organizing committees for the Annual and Spring Meetings are quite open to new volunteers and session chairs. This can also include various committee assignments. You can limit or structure your involvement to match your time and current skill level.
Both are good ways to build networks, find mentors for the various stages of your professional life, and to learn new interpersonal skills.
First, join and participate in your local section.
Second, join one or more relevant divisions. I will freely admit that I have a particular bias in favor of my “home” division – the Safety & Health Division. I would strongly urge any young AIChE member to join the S&H Division, regardless of whatever other division you may align with. Why do I suggest this? Because, as a practicing chemical engineer, your decisions and your actions are going to impact process safety in one way or another. The S&H Division will provide you valuable knowledge and perspective needed to address your process safety responsibilities, whatever your role or job title may be.
Third, regularly participate in one or both of the national meetings. Present posters or papers, if you have the opportunity. But, regardless, attend the sessions and learn. Equally important, though, is to meet people at the meetings.
Start forming networks. We all want to be confident that we are sufficiently competent to address our job responsibilities. However, none of us is likely to ever know everything about our particular areas of specialization. But, you don’t need to know everything! What you need is a solid foundational knowledge reinforced by an awareness of who to go to, when necessary, for that one additional bit of knowledge required to solve the problem at hand.
Over the years, I have formed a broad network of associates to whom I can go for some particularly arcane bit of information that I don’t personally have. This mutually supportive network (the help flows both ways), which grew out of my AIChE and related industry activities, is one of the most valuable tools that I have.
I recommend the following to any interested young professional:
- Get engaged as a volunteer in various activities of your local section. Get involved with a passion to volunteer and you will soon feel that you are surrounded by other volunteers who are ready to interact with you in a group setup or on an individual level. Cultivate true volunteerism and develop leadership skills through proper training to become a future leader.
- Set up your own network with an existing young professional group and learn from the leadership of such a group. If such a group is not available, seek for help through membership at AIChE to get connected with such a group.
- Get engaged at the divisional level by attending meetings and teleconferences.
- Volunteer for one of the national operating councils: SIOC, CEOC and CTOC.
- Get connected with the national leadership and seek opportunities to interact face-to-face or virtually with them, and express your interest and get the opportunity to participate.
- Cultivate effective communication skills to articulate your ideas and thoughts with your peer group and with your superiors.
- Stay engaged with diverse groups to broaden your horizon to get global perception and understanding. Locate an experienced mentor who could guide you to make impactful progress while going through above steps. You will get an understanding of how the institute operates, and it will also open opportunities of networking within the organization.
Volunteer in some way with a local section, student chapter or division! Many of AIChE's key functions rely entirely on volunteers, so your willingness to help will always be welcomed. Don't be concerned that you don't have enough experience; your personal experience brings an important perspective and gives you ways you can help others.