Purdue Professor Invests in Young Professionals' Future

A chemical engineering professor at Purdue University is taking an extracurricular step to send his school’s new ChE graduates on a prosperous career path.

Sangtae “Sang” Kim, Distinguished Professor and the Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of Purdue’s Charles D. Davidson School of Chemical Engineering, has championed Purdue's decision to fund one year of AIChE Young Professional (YP) membership for the school's entire 2017 class of graduating chemical engineers. Under a new AIChE policy adopted for the 2017-2018 membership year, newly graduating AIChE student members will receive a complimentary first-year of AIChE YP membership, before being billed for membership dues in the second year. Purdue has agreed to cover the alumni's second year of YP membership. Kim and Purdue are underwriting the gift of membership through a donation to the AIChE Foundation.    

Professor Kim's motivation for his gift

Kim, who is a Trustee of the AIChE Foundation, explains that part of his motivation for making the graduation gift stems from his desire to help secure a strong, modern AIChE - an organization that he considers a linchpin in his own professional development and career satisfaction. “Along with the institutions where I received my education,” says Kim, “AIChE has had the greatest impact in shaping my professional career. Most importantly, as my career progressed through multiple sectors, AIChE has played the most important role in keeping me connected with other chemical engineers.”

AIChE has kept me connected with other chemical engineers. I’m convinced that AIChE can play an important part in today’s students’ career progression as well.


Professor Kim on AIChE's importance in career progression

Kim believes that this same sense of community and identity, fostered by AIChE, will be important for his former students’ future success as they enter an evolving chemical engineering profession. “I expect that (the students’) careers will encompass multiple companies and industries, as enabled by a chemical engineering education,” says Kim. “And, I’m convinced that AIChE can play an important part in their career progression.”

Kim adds that today’s chemical engineering graduates “are well positioned to take part in the search for solutions to the broad societal challenges in food, health, energy and sustainability.” This diversification of specializations and opportunities, he notes, has in recent year correlated with a downward trend in AIChE membership among younger engineers and new graduates — a trend that Kim, and the Institute, want to reverse.

In this regard, Kim views Purdue's gift as a win-win opportunity, for his former students and for AIChE. “For our graduating seniors, this graduation gift will be a foundational element as they form their network with fellow chemical engineers,” says Kim, adding that an influx of young, diverse, and engaged AIChE members will be a key to the vitality and growth of the Institute as a home for all chemical engineers.

Setting an example for other members

Gift’s such as the one arranged by Kim help to advance the objectives of the AIChE Foundation’s Doing a World of Good Campaign, which focuses on projects that bring the beneficial work of chemical engineers to the global society. For his part, Kim hopes that more AIChE members and their affiliated universities will consider making similar gifts of financial mentorship to help the youngest members of the chemical engineering community jumpstart their entrance to the profession, through AIChE. “If every chemical engineering program were to adopt this idea, we will move AIChE in a positive and meaningful direction,” he concludes.

To learn about the good works of the AIChE Foundation, and the many ways to contribute, visit www.aiche.org/giving.

Read Sangtae's bio.

Doing a World of Good Through Education

Funding education, training and career development programs helps develop tomorrow’s leaders. It ensures that professors like Sangtae can continue to be revolutionary.

Learn more about the foundation's education initiatives and get involved contact Development Director Stephanie Viola at stepv@aiche.org.

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