AIChE Gala Celebrates Leaders of LyondellBasell and Bechtel; Dow's Jim Fitterling; for Inspiring Future Engineers

December 7, 2017
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The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) honored LyondellBasell and Bechtel Group, Inc., along with those companies’ leaders, for their efforts to inspire the next generation of engineers, at an awards gala held in New York City on Wednesday, December 6.

LyondellBasell and the company’s Chief Executive Officer Bhavesh V. (Bob) Patel, were honored for “leadership in advancing possibilities for the next generation of engineers” — in particular through the company’s financial and volunteer support of schools working to improve science, engineering, technology and mathematics (STEM) education in the communities where the company operates and for workforce development and job training programs at colleges and universities.

Bechtel, represented at the gala by the company’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Jack Futcher, was recognized for “inspiring the next generation of engineers to dream big.” This includes efforts that equip students with the tools, education and mentorship needed to succeed in STEM fields through Bechtel’s leadership in organizations such as DiscoverE, Junior Achievement®, and FIRST® Robotics, as well as its sponsorship of the IMAX film Dream Big, which promotes the importance of engineering in creating better lives for people around the world.

Both LyondellBasell and Bechtel were lauded for demonstrating an exemplary commitment STEM education and the mentorship of young engineers.

The gala also honored Jim Fitterling, president and chief operating officer of The Dow Chemical Company, who received the AIChE Foundation’s inaugural Doing a World of Good Medal, a prize that salutes the achievements of an individual who has advanced the societal contributions of engineers. Fitterling was commended for his dedication to better preparing the next generation of engineers through AIChE’s Undergraduate Process Safety Learning initiative, for his advocacy of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and for his professional and personal commitment to mentorship.

In accepting the Doing a World of Good Medal, Fitterling reflected on the vital contributions that engineers in industry are making for the betterment of society, noting that industry is constantly in need of new ideas, new research, and new employees. Acknowledging the work of the other gala honorees, Fitterling added, “I’m exceedingly grateful for being in the presence of so many people who — like me — have committed themselves to positively influence our industry, and who share a dedication to help prepare the engineers who will define our industry for decades to come.”

The AIChE gala raised approximately $450,000 to support programs that strengthen pre-college STEM education and foster a diverse and inclusive engineering profession, stated AIChE executive director June C. Wispelwey. “Attracting and preparing tomorrow’s chemical engineers — and promoting an inclusive workforce in which they can all thrive — are essential if we are to successfully respond to global challenges related to energy, healthcare, and water and food resources,” said Wispelwey. “Our gala honorees, through their dedication to early-education, are examples to which all employers of engineers should aspire.”

The gala supports the initiatives of the AIChE Foundation and its Doing a World of Good campaign, and will fund the expansion of AIChE’s high school and middle school STEM education programs, travel grants to promote increased participation by women engineers and international students at AIChE conferences, the growth of AIChE’s undergraduate Chem-E-Car Competition®, and other projects aimed at inspiring the next generation of engineers.

The gala’s dinner chairs were Andreas Kramvis, Operating Partner, AEA Investors LP; Lynne M. Lachenmyer, Vice President, Safety, Security, Health and Environment, Exxon Mobil Corporation; Jeff Sipes, Principal Vice President, Marketing and Business Development, Bechtel Oil, Gas and Chemicals; John Y. Televantos, Partner, Arsenal Capital Partners; Gavin P. Towler, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Honeywell Performance Materials Technologies; and S. Shariq Yosufzai, Vice President, Global Diversity, Chevron Corporation.

Receiving the audience’s appreciation, LyondellBasell’s Patel remarked on the importance of building a strong and committed engineering workforce in order to expand and revitalize U.S. manufacturing. Patel added “This industry is advancing solutions to some of the world’s most daunting challenges, and we are honored to be recognized by AIChE for our investment in the young minds that will deliver fresh ideas and new possibilities which will benefit us all.”

Yosufzai, who is also the incoming chair of the AIChE Foundation, introduced Bechtel and Futcher, citing Bechtel’s efforts to stir a passion for STEM careers at critically early ages, and for working to strengthen and diversity the engineering profession of the future.

For more information on AIChE’s 2017 Annual Gala and its sponsors, or for photographs of the event, visit

About AIChE: AIChE is a professional society of more than 53,000 chemical engineers in 110 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 nanotechnology, sustainability, hydrogen fuels, biological and environmental engineering, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at