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David Eckhardt Makes $100K Gift to AIChE Foundation

September 19, 2016
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Endowment Will Fund Conferences for Chemical Engineering Students in Northeast Region

The Foundation of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has received a gift to fund annual conferences for chemical engineering undergraduates in the northeastern U.S.

David R. Eckhardt and his wife, Karen, along with the Pfizer Foundation Matching Gifts Program, are donating more than $100,000 to create the Northeast Student Regional Conference Endowment Fund. This generous gift will ensure financial support to sustain and expand one of AIChE’s most robust student activities.

The Northeast Regional Conference is one of nine annual AIChE regional student meetings. The conferences provide scholarly and professional development opportunities for chemical engineering students, and include research paper and poster competitions, as well as annual Chem-E-Car™ Competitions.

Peter Lederman, Chair of the AICE Foundation, lauded Eckhardt’s gift saying, “Dave and Karen’s philanthropic leadership sets an example for others to follow, and is a worthwhile investment in the future of the chemical engineering profession.”

More than 300 undergraduate chemical engineers attend each year’s Northeast Conference, representing AIChE student chapters and members at the following schools: Brown, Clarkson, Cornell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, McGill, Northeastern, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse, Tufts, Université Laval, University of Connecticut, University of Maine, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, University of New Brunswick, University of New Hampshire, University of New Haven, University of Rhode Island, University of Rochester, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Yale.

The 2015 Northeast Student Regional Conference will be hosted by the student chapters from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Northeastern University. Information about the 2015 regional conference series can be found at

Eckhardt, an AIChE Fellow and 48-year member, works as a chemical engineering consultant for Irwin Engineers (Natick, MA). During his career, he has had assignments in process development, process design, and plant operations at companies including CH2M Hill, Monsanto (agricultural chemicals), Pfizer, and DuPont. He earned his Bachelors degree in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Babson College.

His dedicated volunteerism and leadership in AIChE activities include service on AIChE’s Board of Directors (1993–1996); Chair of the Admissions Committee; Member of the Fellows Council; officer and Chair of the Saint Louis Local Section; officer of the Ichthyologists (Boston, MA) Local Section, and officer of the Virtual Local Section. Other contributions to AIChE have included the Leadership Development Conference (12 conferences) and Student Regional Conferences (Northeastern: 9 years; Mid-America: 9 years). For his innovative contributions to the Institute, Eckhardt has received four of AIChE’s Gary Leach Awards.

AIChE will administer the disbursement and manage the investment of the fund. For more information about the AIChE Endowment, please visit

AIChE is a professional society of nearly 45,000 chemical engineers in 100 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. 

Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontier of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology, and chemical plant safety and security.