The Unión AIChE Latam project was born from a conversation between the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral Student Chapter (ESPOL) and Costa Rica University Student Chapter executive boards based in Ecuador and Costa Rica, respectively.
In the following days, AIChE ESPOL student chapter president Katherine Zambrano contacted 16 additional AIChE student chapters’ presidents from Argentina, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico and Peru. Together, the 18 AIChE student chapters collaborated to hold several virtual meetings on various major subjects in order to strengthen professional growth for chemical engineers throughout Latin America while also helping those most in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every student chapter executive board invited a recognized speaker, mainly from their school, to deliver a presentation focused on chemical engineering through the Webex Meetings platform.
The event lasted three weeks, from April 20 to May 9, 2020. A total of 40 virtual presentations were held, featuring speakers from different countries, including Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the United States, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, El Salvador, and Venezuela. Presentations mainly focused on industrial processes, environment, chemical synthesis, and bioprocesses.
Attendance ranged from 200 to 700 per presentation. Some of the highlights from the virtual conference series included:
- Alejandro Molina, Ph.D. – Chemical Engineering in the Time of COVID-19. (Advisor AIChE UNMED, Medellin - Colombia)
- Oscar Vladimir Ortiz, MSc. – Application of Combinatorial Chemistry for the design of new drugs. (Advisor AIChE UNAH, Tegucigalpa - Honduras)
- Marvin Szoychen, MSv. – CCPS and Reach Universities in Latin America. (Venezuela – USA)
- Santiago D. Salas, Ph.D. – Computational Tools for the Modeling of Chemical Processes in COVID-19 Times. (Advisor AIChE ESPOL, Guayaquil - Ecuador)
Access to the conference series was free for everyone, and organizers offered a certificate to those who attended more than five presentations and made a donation.
Together, the 18 student chapters raised nearly $2,800 USD, which was donated to organizations and efforts in their local communities dedicated to helping those hit the hardest during the global pandemic.
The Unión AIChE Latam project is a testament to the fact that we really are all in this together. These 18 AIChE student chapters have shown that through virtual collaboration and careful planning, we can continue to provide valuable development opportunities to our AIChE student chapter members and continue to give back to our society.