2018 Student Conference Kicks Off with Keynote by Covestro’s Demetri Zervoudis

More than 1,600 chemical engineering undergraduates from universities around the globe are convening this weekend at AIChE’s 2018 Annual Student Conference — October 26–29, during the AIChE Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. By Saturday morning, October 27, undergrads had arrived in force, ready to represent their home institutions and begin building career connections through their affiliation with AIChE.

Setting the stage for the conference on Saturday was a welcome breakfast and keynote address by Demetri Zervoudis, Senior Vice President, Covestro LLC, a major manufacturer of high-tech polymer materials.

In his remarks, Zervoudis reminded new chemical engineers that the world is looking to them as versatile problem-solvers who will help address many pressing problems in energy, sustainability, societal welfare, and the environment. “You have to believe you can make a difference in the world,” said Zervoudis, “because, the truth is, your work will shape the future of humanity.”

As chemical engineers, curiosity is in your DNA.

Zervoudis also recounted his own career progress, highlighting his work at Covestro. He underscored his remarks by referencing Covestro’s company values — “Curious, Courageous, Colorful” — as worthwhile guiding principles for new engineers about to embark on their own professional journeys.

To illustrate these values, Zervoudis reminded the audience that “as chemical engineers, curiosity is in your DNA,” and that their innate curiosity would be integral to the scientific inquiry needed for creativity and innovation. Next, he challenged the new engineers to develop courage on multiple fronts, including the courage to embrace failure as instructive; the courage to face and welcome inevitable change; and the courage to stand up and speak up when they think something is wrong.

Zervoudis went on to explain that the colorful component “refers to diversity in all its forms — of opinions, ideas, and perspectives — all of which are critical to innovation . . . and make work and life joyful.”

The 2018 AIChE Student Conference is one of AIChE’s most ambitious to date, featuring dozens of sessions including student-presented workshops, scholarly and inter-collegiate competitions. Among its highlights are the ChemE “Jeopardy” finals and AIChE’s Chem-E-Car Competition, along with career skills sessions, a recruitment fair, and leadership development opportunities.