AIChE supporting initiatives to develop next generation of engineers
We’ve been talking a lot recently about the skills gap and the impending shortage of skilled workers that manufacturers face. Like many other professional and trade associations, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers is reaching out to students, encouraging them in several ways to seriously consider careers in engineering.
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers announced recently its support of a variety of initiatives that encourage students to learn more about the rewards of an engineering career.
As part of this week’s National Engineers Week festivities, the institute is encouraging students to think about a career in engineering %%MDASSML%% where they can find solutions to real-world problems if they are committed to improving their math and science skills.
“Movements in energy costs, crumbling infrastructure, climate change and contamination in our food supply have all made headlines so far in 2009,” said June Wispelwey, executive director of AIChE. “But the good news is that engineers can have a direct hand in improving all of those things.”
While AIChE has long focused on the professional development of working engineers and educating undergraduates, the organization is also committed to outreach to students in grades K-12. Kate Ziemer, a professor at Northeastern University , is heading a web-based pilot program that collects best outreach practices from AIChE student chapters and local section chapters, and then connects volunteers with K-12 interaction opportunities in their areas.
“Our goal in this program is two-fold: First, to get young students excited about science and engineering, with our collegiate members serving as role models and sharing their enthusiasm about the sciences,” said Ziemer. “Second, to provide connections, some of them real-time, that enable AIChE volunteers to connect with teachers in their local areas and provide lesson plans and support.”
Regional and national competitions
The annual Chem-E-Car Competition , sponsored by AIChE, is focused on cultivating young, new thinking on alternative fuels and green energy, as well as putting classroom teaching to practical use.
The competition challenges chemical engineering students to test their classroom knowledge by building shoebox-sized cars powered by controlled chemical reactions. Participants have one hour to prepare their cars to transport a certain payload a specified distance. Regional races are being held year-round, with the finals scheduled for November, during AIChE’s annual meeting in Nashville, TN.
Safety and undergraduate education
Safety and Chemical Engineering Education is an effort between AIChE’s Center for Chemical Process Safety and universities to provide teaching materials and programs that incorporate safety knowledge into the education of undergraduate students and young practicing engineers.
SACHE develops materials to facilitate this safety education. The products include PowerPoint slide/lecture sets, DVDs, problem sets with solutions and case histories. Materials fit into established courses and can be tailored for different teaching styles. Topics include the hazards of reactive chemicals, calculating the size of relief valves, computing sources from ruptured vessels or pipelines, calculating downwind compositions of chemicals, understanding the flammable and explosive characteristics of chemicals and dusts, and ways to make processes more inherently safe.
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After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.