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Creating a community for professional success

ChemE Professor and Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education Taryn Bayles receives 2022 AIChE Philanthropist of the Year Award

Twenty years ago, Taryn Bayles left the ASEE/AIChE Summer School for Engineering Faculty with an even more energized passion for teaching. Her positive experience with the program as a student led her to continue with it in a new role – a mentor for young chemical engineering faculty enrolled in the Summer School. 

She was awarded the 2022 AIChE Philanthropist of the Year at the organization’s recent conference because of that mentorship.

“I’ve been passionate about this program since I was a participant,” said Bayles, professor of chemical engineering and Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. “I never expected my service to be recognized by an award, so this came as a wonderful surprise.” 

The Summer School was established in 1931 and focuses on preparing new chemical engineering educators in their future careers. The immersive experience includes seminars and interactive workshops.  

Since she first was a participant in 2002, Bayles has led over 10 workshops at the Summer School. More recently, she’s served on the School’s organizing committee, working to rebrand the School and securing financial support for participating faculty. The award recognizes Bayles’ leadership in establishing the AIChE Endowment of the Summer School and convincing most first-time donors to contribute to the endowment. 

In addition to professional development, the Summer School helps new faculty establish lifelong friendships that anchor faculty throughout their careers. For Bayles, some of her best memories came from unexpected experiences, like playing board games and living in a dormitory with her fellow classmates. 

“I went home with all these great materials to teach from,” Bayles said. “I also went home with all these wonderful friendships. When I would encounter my classmates at conferences and events after the Summer School, it was just nice to see someone that you had already formed a bond.  It quickly builds community.” 

Her former Summer School classmate, Bob Parker, is now her colleague as a professor of chemical engineering and Associate Dean for Graduate Education at the Swanson School. 

“Bob was somebody that I already knew when I came to Pitt in 2016 after meeting him at the Summer School, back in 2002,” Bayles said. 

Bayles isn’t a stranger to lifetime achievements. However, she said the accomplishments of her students are what matter most in her teaching career. Her office is decorated with mementos from student projects and cards. 

“All of my lifetime achievement awards are still packed in their original boxes and sit on the back corner of my desk; but thank you notes from my students sit proudly displayed on my desk and shelves, because the opportunity to work with students is what I treasure the most,” Bayles said. 

Her connection to Pitt goes beyond her students. Bayles also is a proud triple-alumna at Pitt, having earned dual masters in chemical and petroleum engineering, as well as PhD in chemical engineering. She received her bachelor’s in chemical engineering from New Mexico State University.