15:36 PM

For ChemE Students, A Long-Awaited Return to the AIChE Annual Meeting

After a year and a half of virtual attendance, the University of Pittsburgh student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) made it to Boston for the 2021 AIChE Annual Student Conference on Nov. 6-9 to participate in the inaugural Chem-E-Cube competition, as well as the Chem-E Car competition and career planning & exploration for student chapter officers.

CHEM E Cube 2021

The Chem-E-Cube competition, launched by RAPID, requires students to design, build and demonstrate a one cubic foot process plant. This year, the process challenge was to create an on-demand water purification process to implement in developing countries. 

The Chem-E-Cube teams compete on cube performance, a 3-minute ad, a poster competition and a 20 minute “Shark Tank” pitch. Pitt's team placed fourth overall and won the three-minute ad with the help of the creative talent of ChemE undergraduate and AIChE Student Chapter officer Evan Kerin.The team members who competed in person were Audrey Christiano, Ryan McElroy, Jared Renz, Joel Hinkle, Chris Rogers, and Michael Kane.

The Chem-E-Car team also competed during the student conference. Challenged to create a shoebox sized car which had to travel a specified distance (10-30 meters) and have chemical propulsion and stopping mechanisms and mechanical chassis system, the team placed 12th in a field of 22 cars. Team members who were able to compete in person included Sarah Borger, Shiva Yagobian, Mark Heggan, Nina Fratto, Anthony Hill, Todd Ackerman, Andrew Stremmel, and Zachary Sokoloff.

Two ChemE undergraduates, Jacob Wardzak (representing Karl Johnson’s lab) and Jeff Hoffman (representing James McKone’s lab), presented their research in the Student Poster competition. In addition, three AIChE student officers also attended to participate in professional development opportunities included Gabby Bebenek (President), Livia Lanna (External Vice President) and Evan Kerin (Professional Development Chair). 

“It was wonderful to be able to return to the in-person competitions and watch the students showcase their talent,” said Taryn Bayles, vice chair for undergraduate education and professor of chemical engineering. “We were excited to see their hard work and efforts recognized on a national stage and have them represent the Swanson School of Engineering.”