The University of Virginia student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers was honored with several awards, including the 2013 Outstanding Student Chapter Award, at the institute’s annual meeting and national student conference, held Nov. 3–8 in San Francisco.
In addition, chemical engineering professor John O’Connell received the Outstanding Student Chapter Advisor Award, and fourth-year student Colvin Wang received the 2013 Donald F. & Mildred Topp Othmer National Scholarship Award.
“These awards at the national level really speak to the quality of our students,” said Roseanne Ford, professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. “The AIChE student chapter plays a big role in the development of our students. It’s very rewarding to see our students recognized for their commitment and leadership.”
The Outstanding Student Chapter Award recognizes student participation, enthusiasm, program quality, professionalism and involvement in the university and community. About 10 percent of student chapters nationwide are selected for the honor each year. This is the ninth time that the U.Va. chapter has earned the award.
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers is the world’s leading professional organization for chemical engineers. The student chapter at the University promotes the professional development of its members through networking events and community outreach in support of the field of chemical engineering.
Fifteen U.Va. undergraduates attended the national conference, with six presenting their research in poster sessions. For their presentations, Wang and Jacob Monroe received first-place awards in their respective divisions. Katie Campbell and Bailey Risteen earned awards for second place in their divisions. In addition, papers and posters of 11 U.Va. graduate students were presented at the annual meeting. Third-year student Rishi Gupta was also recognized with the Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Excellence Award.
“I can’t ever remember a student chapter claiming so many AIChE awards in the same year,” O’Connell said. “It’s a real tribute to the hard work and dedication of our students.”
Receiving the Outstanding Chapter Advisor was particularly gratifying for O’Connell, who is retiring at the end of the fall semester. “To be nominated by our students for this award is pretty special,” he said. “It brings me a lot of satisfaction.”
Wang, president of U.Va.’s student chapter, was one of only 15 students across the country to receive the institute’s national scholarship award. The distinction, which is based on academic achievement and involvement, includes a scholarship of $1,000.“It’s a big honor,” he said, “but I think it speaks more about the good things going on here in the chapter and in our department.”
Last spring, Wang and the other student leaders on the chapter’s executive board organized a successful bid to host the institute’s 2014 Mid-Atlantic Regional Conference.
“It’s exciting to be able to bring this event to U.Va., especially this year,” said Wang, the student chair of the conference. “The recognition we received from the national society really adds to the momentum as we prepare to host the regional conference.”
Chemical engineering students from the 34 universities in the region will be invited to attend the 2014 conference, which will be held March 28–29.