2020 AIChE President's Message

Supporting a Skills-Based Employment Market

Happy New Year! As we look ahead to 2020, we see major, rapid changes in engineering, business, and education before us. How interesting and exciting it is for us to be chemical engineers and members of AIChE at this time of massive transformation.

Today, AIChE has more than 60,000 members in 110 countries. The Institute is in a strong financial position and continues to invest in new programs. I would like to thank you, the members, as well as the staff, volunteers, sponsors, leadership, and the Board of Directors for your continued support. AIChE’s success is only possible due to the commitment and hard work of all involved.

The learning and innovation challenges of the 21st century — including the creation of a sustainable chemical industry, the transformation of our existing global energy supply, and support for a growing global population — will all benefit from the contributions of chemical engineers. At the same time, work is changing. The ability to access and connect instantaneously to global knowledge is breaking down legacy organization silos. Traditional education models are transforming, as new, skills-based education providers are growing in both sophistication and popularity. Innovation cycle time is being reduced through new partnerships that include companies, startups, and innovation hubs formed by universities.

In today’s rapidly changing world, AIChE can build on its core capabilities to accelerate learning and innovation for all of its members and stakeholders. That’s because the core of AIChE is about providing connections — among us as members, as well as among future students and engineers, stakeholders, and communities of practice — as well as between industries, markets, and organization types.

Consider these examples of possible AIChE offerings:


Critical for personal success is acquiring skills and experiences for a lifelong career. In the new skills-based employment market, AIChE could take career services to a new level. Students can learn marketplace skills from AIChE online, and gain support and insight from experienced members, who can provide their personal career path learnings and advice for those looking for their next steps.


The fast pace of business and technological advancement requires constant, ongoing professional education across industries. Online courses and supplemental educational programs from AIChE can provide members with additional training in emerging skill areas, based on market needs. The AIChE Academy is a scalable solution that could be used to supplement existing university education and build new courses with content critical for success in the marketplace today.


Drawing on decades of academic and industrial expertise among its stakeholders, AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS) provides modules for safety education to all undergraduates. Similarly, the Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute, a public-private partnership between AIChE and the Dept. of Energy, offers internships that provide professional experience and process safety information, leadership training, and technical instruction to students across RAPID member organizations.

AIChE could expand these collaborations between companies and universities to build an integrated internship program that combines learning with experience. Further, students returning from internships in industry could bring new knowledge of market needs back into their universities.


Hubs for entrepreneurship and innovation are providing a new path for scientific discoveries to get to market. The RAPID Institute is one hub that funds and directs R&D across a group of member companies, universities, national labs, and other nonprofit organizations. Another example is AIChE’s new Center for Hydrogen Safety (CHS), which is partnering with other organizations to facilitate the transition to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies as energy sources. Likewise, CCPS works with its member organizations to identify problems and deploy market-relevant safety solutions. This business model could be extended to new domains to support new, scalable innovation activities.

Building on such models, AIChE could provide training to equip students to conduct innovation sessions during their internships. Student interns could then become innovation ambassadors who engage a broad group of faculty, students, and company representatives to identify new research opportunities that might lead to startup companies or translational research activities. New ideas such as the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Research program align with many of these possibilities.

These are a few thoughts, but there are even more ideas and initiatives underway within groups and communities of practices across AIChE.

As we enter 2020, we have an opportunity to create new services and opportunities in support of our members and stakeholders. I look forward to learning your ideas for how we might build on AIChE’s current capabilities to accelerate learning and innovation for today’s world. AIChE’s programmatic and financial strengths provide an excellent foundation for building a successful future professional society. I wish you all a safe and happy new year.