Guide to Young Professional Programming | AIChE

Guide to Young Professional Programming

The following are general guidelines to successfully plan YP focused programming for the Young Professionals Committee (YPC). As a YPC Programming Co-Chair, your goal is to improve and expand the programming offered at both the Spring Meeting and Annual Conference that is relevant to Young Professionals. 

This document is to help navigate some of the requirements around managing the conference. Here is some overall guidance:

  • YPC Programming Co-Chairs have a three year term, progressing through 2nd Vice Co-Chair, Vice Co-Chair, and Co-Chair. YPC Programming Co-Chair will be focused on either the Spring Meeting or Annual Conference with responsibilities for programming a specific conference while helping out where needed on other conferences.
  • Ideally a YPC Programming chair should attend either the Spring Meeting or Annual Conference all three years of their term. A 2nd vice-chair will be learning more about how programming works and making contacts by shadowing the programming chairs and vice-chairs. The 1st vice-chair should be focused on planning for their conference the following year. Finally, the Programming Co-Chair will be ensuring that all the YPC programming goes as planned, making notes of where improvements can be made for future conferences, and mentoring the 1st and 2nd Vice Chairs.
  • Planning for a conference starts a year or more before that conference–At or even before the previous year’s conference.  You can find general timelines here: Timelines
  • Talk to the previous chairs and the YPC Programming Advisor. They can give advice, point in the right direction, or even make introductions and contacts.
  • If issues come up with confex, scheduling, or something that requires a higher power, contact the YPC rep for AIChE.

The following information is based on a timeline starting a little more than a year before a conference for which a YPC leader is designated “Programming Co-Chair.” It is important to keep in mind that “Before the previous conference” the YPC leader will actually be designated “Vice-Chair.” The timeline should outline most vice-chair and chair responsibilities. The 2nd vice-chair’s responsibilities are essentially to observe and to help when needed. Here is a timeline and key milestones for conference planning:

Before the previous conference: 

Review the lists of divisions and forums that have programming at your conference. Email people from these groups to get invited to their programming meeting. Contact information should be found through the group’s website: Programming Resources Contacts. Please review 5 steps for Collaborative Programming for more information on collaborating with divisions and forums.Sometimes the programming meetings are listed in the ancillary schedule, but sometimes they are not. Usually the division chairs will be very happy to hear from the YPC.

Check out the YPC conference schedule to get an idea of what sessions YPC has sponsored in the past. It may also be helpful to talk to past programming chairs to get more information on what the committee has done as far as programming in the past.

At previous Conference:

Go to the Divisions and Forums programming meetings scheduled before the conference. It may be helpful to divide and conquer with other YPC programming chairs and vice-chairs.  Try and get placeholders added to their list of co-chairs (“YPC co-chairs”) for sessions that look like they would be a good starting point for YP co-chairs. The division should be able to weigh in on which sessions would be good for YPs. Make sure to keep a record of all the sessions that have held a co-chair spot for a YP. 

Some divisions are interested in having “YP Tutorials” where they have a session that goes over some basics that pertain to the division. These are great and usually well-attended; however, the YPC programming committee has been trying to move away from calling these sessions “YP Tutorials.” This name may discourage attendance from people who are not YPs. Some suggestions are “Master class” and “Introduction”.

Keep in mind that because of the way the CFA is structured, having the YPC as primary sponsor of a session is not a good idea.  Sessions where YPC is listed as “primary” are hidden under a link called “Liaison functions” in the CFA.  For instance, if someone is looking to submit a paper on environmental sustainability, they would be more likely to look under the environmental division. If there are YPs that have specific session topic ideas, that’s great! The best way to take care of these is to have the YP chair the session within the division and have the YPC co-sponsor. The divisions are usually up for this. Just ask.

At the conference, recruit YPs who might be interested in co-chairing. After the conference you can start matching them up with sessions that you have offered to find co-chairs for.

Directly after the conference up to just before the CFA opens:

Begin Following Up With Division Programming Chairs and Potential Co-chairs

Follow up with Division Programming Chairs that contact was made with at the conference to confirm sessions and where YP Co-Chairs will be needed. Find co-chairs for all those sessions which have reserved “YP co-chair” positions. The easiest way to match people to sessions is simply by giving them the options. Announce the available co-chair positions at YPC general meetings. Make sure the volunteers know the responsibilities of a co-chair before they commit to co-chairing a session. When the co-chairs are matched up, contact the division or forum programming chairs to connect everyone.

If a division agreed to do a “Master Class,” ask them how this is going and offer to find a YP co-chair to help them out. When you get all this set up, you can also start co-sponsoring sessions in confex.

Determine if anyone is interested in Running a Panel

At the YPC general meeting conference call, ask if anyone has an idea for a panel that is not already being done. If there are interested parties, let them know that they need to write a description of the panel so the  programming chair can submit it as a session before the CFA opens. They can also be directed to How to Create a Panel for helpful guidance. After the session is created in confex, the panel runner should be added as chair of the session. This gives them the power to add speakers and organize their session.

Get Set Up In CONFEX and Learn How to Use it

The AIChE Staff will send login information for confex to the chairs and vice-chairs. A Programming Chair will have administrative rights in the system to see everything in the programming area.

There are tutorials and how-tos inside of confex. Look in the left-hand column toward the bottom. Confex is easier than it looks. Feel free to play around inside. Anything the YPC programming chair has permission to do can be fixed by the Conference chair.


It’s best to meet the deadlines laid out by AIChE, but don’t panic if another division doesn’t their sessions in on time. They will get it in. It’s best to check in with them every couple of weeks to see if they have added their sessions, or added your YP co-chairs to their sessions.

Note that Undergraduate sessions do not always follow the same deadlines as everyone else. Deal directly with the Student Chapter AIChE Rep: to determine deadlines for Undergrad sessions.

Don’t worry if things fall through. Sometimes that happens. Just try to make sure there’s no empty session sponsored by only YPC in the Program Book.

During the CFA:

If all the YP co-chair positions are filled, encourage the co-chairs to check in with the session chair, but there will be little to do but wait.

Just after CFA closes:

Try to send out reminders to all the co-chairs that were connected with sessions to get in touch with their chair.  It would be a good idea to remind them of the responsibilities of a co-chair and let them know they can contact the programming co-chair if they have any questions.

Before the Program Book is Finalized:

Make sure all the sessions on the list made at the previous conference are co-sponsored officially on confex.

Sometimes divisions cancel sessions, so not all of the sessions may be available on confex to co-sponsor.

Go through the technical program and see if there are any other sessions that seem like they might be attractive for YPs.  Offering to cosponsor at this point will be purely for advertising purposes, and that is fine. Cosponsoring should be done directly through confex, but an email to the session chair or area chair is nice to do as well. Contact information should be listed on group’s website: Programming Resources Contacts. Divisions and forums are almost always willing to have YPC cosponsor, because that means more exposure for their session.

If there are any YPC panels or sessions, make sure the chair of those sessions has all their panelists and speakers nailed down and put into confex, so that the speakers’ names are in the program book, and so the main conference programming chairs won’t think the panel is empty and cancel it. 

If you miss this time period (it happens fast), the good news is that most YPs are probably going to use the smartphone app to check out the YPC schedule.  Updates made after the program book is finalized can still be found in the smartphone app and online.

Two Months Before the meeting:

There are a number of things you can do before the conference to ensure success:


Work with the YPC Publications Committee as well as the Staff Liaison to create YPC emails, Chenected/Community articles, social media posts, and previews sent as part of YPC Newsletter.  There are also usually announcements created for the YPC Mixer.

Check in on session chairs and panel chairs

Things happen at the last minute. Drop a line to the session and panel chairs to see how they are doing and if there are any changes in their plans.

At the meeting

This is a continuous process. Work with the 1st & 2nd Vice Chair to make sure YPC Programming is set up for success next year. Introduce the vice chairs to all the contacts made at the last and previous conferences.  Ask for feedback from the YP programming committee, YP committee, and YP conference attendees to see what improvements can be made for next year.

After the meeting

Great Job!  The YPC Publications Chair may want a recap of the conference, and the programming chair may want to do a wrap up in the YPC general meeting. Work with the programming committee to document any feedback, suggestions, and key contacts that will be helpful for future YPC programming chairs. Be sure to make some updates to this document.  That’s it!