Meeting Preview: Visions for Chemical Engineering’s Future Highlight AIChE Annual Meeting, Oct.28–Nov. 2, Pittsburgh


This fall, Pittsburgh, PA — a hub of U.S. industry and manufacturing — will welcome thousands of chemical engineering researchers and practitioners, who will survey the field’s achievements and future prospects at the 2018 AIChE Annual Meeting, which will be held Oct. 28 through Nov. 2 at the Steel City’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

The meeting’s organizers have cast their eyes to the future, assembling a program that emphasizes new research and emerging opportunities for the profession. Advances in manufacturing with chemical engineers at the helm take a prominent position in the meeting’s technical program. Many of the meeting’s special sessions also emphasize themes related to manufacturing, while offering attendees a century-spanning overview of chemical engineering’s evolution, current opportunities, and future horizons.

A rundown of the Annual Meeting program will appear in next month’s issue of CEP. In this issue, we preview some of the meeting’s featured events.

Next-generation manufacturing in focus

With AIChE’s DOE-funded Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) Manufacturing Institute in its second year of operation, the Institute continues its work to immerse chemical engineers in the technologies that support this critical area of research and practice. To that end, the Annual Meeting features a brace of topical conferences that showcase opportunities in manufacturing, tailor-made for chemical engineers.

Topics in process intensification and modular manufacturing underscore an expanded Next-Gen Manufacturing Topical Conference, which will illustrate the ways that chemical engineers are creating new modes of manufacturing. Building on past conferences devoted to smart manufacturing, sessions will explore breakthroughs in additive manufacturing and 3D printing, as well as cybersecurity, Industry 4.0, and more.


Microbiomes at Biomedical Interfaces is another new frontier receiving its own topical conference. Here, engineers, scientists, and physicians will discuss how chemical engineering principles can help solve healthcare challenges, including novel materials and techniques for medical applications and infection control.

Another debut is a new conference on Immunotherapy and the revolution in cancer treatment. Whereas immunotherapy developments — ranging from protein therapeutics to cell-based therapies such as tumor-targeting T cells — have thus far been the province of biologists, immunologists, and clinicians, this conference provides a new venue through which chemical engineers and leaders in immunotherapy can interact and identify areas of potential collaboration.

Reflecting on the profession’s past, present, and future

As the Annual Meeting’s technical sessions guide attendees in a survey of the most important developments in the field today, the meeting’s featured events and panels reflect on the profession’s history and prospects, while also introducing a new generation of researchers who are poised to lead the discipline to new heights.

How will the world’s energy portfolio evolve in the years ahead? Is there a path to truly sustainable energy? A panel of thought leaders will tackle such questions on Monday, Oct. 29, at the special session The Future of Energy in the Region, Nation, and World. As this issue goes to press, confirmed speakers include Kamel Ben-Naceur, Chief Economist at ADNOC, the United Arab Emirates’ national oil and gas company, who will discuss energy decarbonation scenarios to address greenhouse gas emissions; and Theodore J. (T. J.) Wojnar, President of Corporate Strategic Planning at Exxon-Mobil Corp., who will share his company’s outlook on global energy supply and demand through 2040.




A special session on Tuesday, Oct. 30, takes a retrospective look at the past half-century of the chemicals and fuels sectors, and asks the provocative question “What the Heck Happened?” The session will elaborate on several disruptions (e.g., the oil crises of the 1970s, the rise of shale gas, financial sector maneuvers) to what had been the industries’ status quo — and will consider how those influences have directed the field’s trajectory. Diverse perspectives will be shared by speakers that include Scott Mitchell, Global Catalysis Leader, Innovation and Technology at Braskem; Antonis Papadourakis, President and CEO of LANXESS Corp.; Joseph Powell, Chief Scientist at Shell; Jeffrey Siirola, Professor of Engineering Practice at Purdue Univ. and Carnegie Mellon Univ.; and David West, Corporate Fellow at SABIC.






Look who’s back in town to celebrate a birthday. AIChE’s very first Annual Meeting was held in Pittsburgh in 1908. To commemorate AIChE’s 110 Years, on Tuesday, Oct. 30, the meeting programmers have invited leaders from academia, industry, and national labs to describe their visions for chemical engineering’s future. The speakers include William Liechty, Associate Research Scientist at Dow Chemical Co.; Clare McCabe, Cornelius Vanderbilt Chair of Engineering at Vanderbilt Univ.; Ruth Misener, Assistant Professor at Imperial College London; Ankur Pariyani, co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer at Near-Miss Management LLC; and Phil Westmoreland, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at North Carolina State Univ.

Also observing a milestone in 2018 is AIChE’s Women’s Initiatives Committee (WIC), which marks its 20th Anniversary with a symposium “Celebrating Women in Chemical Engineering.” The Tuesday, Oct. 30, event features 20 invited talks by prominent women in chemical engineering — who will discuss the contributions of women chemical engineers across career stages and fields of practice. The WIC anniversary symposium is supported by a grant from the AIChE Foundation.

In August, the AIChE Journal publishes its inaugural “Futures” issue, showcasing research conducted by early-career chemical engineers. At the Annual Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 30, the work of six of these future pioneers will compose a new session, AIChE Journal Futures: New Directions in Chemical Engineering Research. (See the related article, p. 13).

Major lectures

The John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecture, Wednesday, Oct. 31. Klavs Jensen, the Warren K. Lewis Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, underscores the meeting’s emphasis on advanced manufacturing with his lecture entitled “Accelerating Development and Intensification of Chemical Processes.” (See the related article, p. 55.)


The Andreas Acrivos Award for Professional Progress in Chemical Engineering Lecture, Tuesday, Oct. 30. This lecture will be given by the Institute’s 2017 Acrivos Professional Progress Award recipient, Orlin D. Velev, INVISTA Professor at North Carolina State Univ. In his talk, “Microscale Engineering of Responsive, Flexible, and Reconfigurable Particle Structures,” Velev will discuss the engineering principles underpinning novel classes of dynamically reconfigurable structures, with examples including magnetically reconfigurable gel networks, shape-changing microbots, and inks for 3D printing.


The P. V. Danckwerts Memorial Lecture, Monday, Oct. 29. Co-sponsored by AIChE, the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE), the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), and Elsevier, this year’s lecture will be delivered by Sang Yup Lee, Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). In his talk, “Biotechnology to Help Achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” Lee will describe how biotech is poised to help the United Nations achieve its global goals in the realms of climate change, sustainable production, and improved health and well-being.


AIChE’s Society for Biological Engineering (SBE) will present its Daniel I. C. Wang Award for Excellence in Biochemical Engineering and the James E. Bailey Award in Biological Engineering. The D. I. C. Wang Award Lecture is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 29, with a presentation by award recipient John G. Auniņš, Chief Technology Officer at Seres Therapeutics, Inc. The James E. Bailey Award Lecture, slated for Tuesday, Oct. 30, is highlighted by a talk from honoree Jeffrey Hubbell, the Eugene Bell Professor in Tissue Engineering at the Univ. of Chicago. Details about the SBE lecturers will appear in the Sept. 2018 issue of CEP.

Details about the technical program, registration instructions, and hotel information are available at Registration fees are discounted through Sept. 17.


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