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AIChE conference brings together students and faculty to share love of chemical engineering

Lots of hard work, dedication, and devotion made for a smooth and successful American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) North Central Regional Conference at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Chemical Engineering Department this spring.

As the first time UIC has hosted the event, it came as a bit of a surprise, but the members of the AIChE student chapter at UIC came together to share research, network with industry professionals and explore career opportunities, and participate in exciting events with other chemical engineering students.

“The conference is a good way for students to come together and present work that they are proud of, along with offering a chance to develop professionally as chemical engineers,” said Emily Seriruk, the activities chair of the AIChE chapter at UIC.

Over 200 students from 19 universities attended the conference and its various workshops that were also available to students including Chem-E Jeopardy, Engineering Olympics, a career fair, safety and technical research poster competitions, and speed networking. Companies such as BP, Zachry Engineering, KraftHeinz, Honeywell UOP, and John Crane attended the event.

“The conference was successful overall and I really enjoyed watching the Chem-E car competition, Seriruk said.

Rachel Brenc, the director of commercial development at LanzaTech, was the keynote speaker for the event.

The UIC Chem-E Car team competed in a 2023 regional competition that challenges students to create a car that can carry a weight of up to 500 grams and control how far the car travels by calculating the exact amount of reactants needed for chemical reactions to power the car, as well as to determine the right moment to stop within the two minute period.

“The entire process was trial and error, but it was fun to participate in and was a team-building experience,” said team member Ramiro Maldonado. The team spent countless hours working to continuously improve their car and feel that they were more confident this year than last year.

This year’s team includes Karim Al Zahabi, Maldonado, Ogechikanma Ihenacho, Varun Maheshwari, Seriruk, Jocelyn Ortega, and Andrew Russ. They received the department’s 2022 Chem-E Car Fellowship, which provides them with funding and supplies to work on the new car.

Hosting the conference, Seriruk said, “helps others view UIC in a better light as the university may not be as well known for engineering as some other universities’ programs are. The conference also brought together the Chem-E community at UIC to plan the conference and make sure it ran smoothly.”