AIChE Responds to COVID-19

For practically everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that we live, work, and think about our future. We have abruptly learned that change is the one thing we can be certain of, and we know that we must be prepared.

At its global headquarters in New York City, AIChE’s staff has changed how it goes about its business — but we haven’t changed the things we do. All of the Institute’s functional and programming areas are moving forward. Indeed, AIChE’s dedication to serving as the professional home for all chemical engineers has never been more resolute.

In April, as many workspaces shuttered and people everywhere adapted to digital, homebound work environments, AIChE opened an online resource hub at AIChE.org/COVID-19, where stakeholders can learn the latest about AIChE’s programs, projects, member benefits, and other activities.

The resource hub also highlights an evolving selection of training courses, articles, and other resources that are being made available without cost.

Here is a summary of what you need to know about AIChE in May 2020. Updates will appear in future issues of CEP. Complete details and daily updates are always available at www.aiche.org.

The power of (virtual) community

Amid the pandemic, and with much of the workforce isolated at home, online discussion forums are seeing record traffic. This increase in people reaching out electronically to one another is evident on the AIChE Engage discussion platform and other forums. In April, AIChE Engage and the ChEnected blog featured articles from stakeholders discussing COVID, the ways people are adjusting to working remotely, the role of engineers in solving emergent healthcare problems, and other topics.

AIChE members have always gathered together to learn from and empower one another. With the prospect that online exchange may be the dominant form of social and professional interaction for months to come, AIChE views this adjustment as both a test and an opportunity to extend its reach in new ways. Our forays into mass digital network building will teach us the most effective approaches for virtual meetings and information exchange, and the new ubiquity of online gathering will open windows to participation by chemical engineers who in the past had not been present at AIChE’s in-person events and other venues to share professional interests and concerns.

Conferences and events

The 2020 AIChE Spring Meeting and 16th Global Congress on Process Safety (GCPS), along with its co-located events, were rescheduled to Aug. 16–20 in Houston, TX. The Institute is continuously monitoring the COVID-19 situation, and conference organizers are evaluating virtual options should they be necessary. AIChE has eased policies related to cancellations, allowing participants to submit abstracts or register for meetings without worrying about fees if they can’t attend.

Plans for the 2020 Annual Meeting and Annual Student Conference — Nov. 15–20 in San Francisco, CA — are currently proceeding as scheduled.

Among the more than 100 smaller conferences and workshops planned this year by the Institute’s entities, some events in the second and third quarters of 2020 are being rescheduled, postponed, or adapted for online delivery. For example, AIChE has decided that the 2020 Process Development Symposium, originally scheduled for June 1–3 in Philadelphia, PA, will be translated into the first AIChE Virtual Process Development Symposium. Details about each of these events are presented on the individual conference webpages.

Education and training

AIChE Academy has experience offering its webinars and training sessions online. Now, new technology platforms are being assessed to ramp up the Academy’s ability to deliver high-quality learning experiences to more and larger online audiences.

As of April 2020, AIChE Academy had postponed several of its in-person courses scheduled for spring dates, and is developing virtual delivery options for others. Through June 30, AIChE members will receive complimentary, unlimited access to live and archived AIChE webinars.

Also in April, AIChE Academy opened its course and webinar content to chemical engineering professors, to supplement universities’ ability to transition to online teaching. Available topics cover process safety basics and standards, modeling techniques, biotechnology, biomanufacturing, and more. As of early May, more than 160 professors worldwide had expressed interest in using the courses. Learn more.

Technical and career resources

In addition to Academy eLearning courses and webinars on professional development topics, AIChE has lifted the paywall on a selection of recent CEP articles. At press time, that selection included special sections on industrial biotechnology, process intensification, and hydrogen deployment. Also available is a new, COVID-19-inspired monograph published by AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS): Risk-Based Process Safety During Disruptive Times.

Visit www.aiche.org regularly to keep informed about the Institute and its activities — and to stay connected with your community.