AIChE Networking Mixer

On the evening of February 17, 2015, the Rutgers and New Jersey chapters of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers held the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering’s first annual networking mixer and awards presentation. Organized by Professor Fuat Celik, the collaboration gathered a crowd of undergraduates, alumni, and professionals, all eager to meet and discuss their academic and professional experiences.

Professor Celik said that the idea for the event came to him after several AIChE students approached him about establishing a mentorship program between undergraduates and professionals. According to him, the New Jersey chapter has held similar events at universities in the past, just never at Rutgers.

“The purpose of the event was to better connect the students with people working in industry,” Professor Celik said. “We also want students to get more involved with the organization, so the best way to do that was introduce them to the local chapter.”

Students seemed to agree. Held over a casual dinner in the Busch Student Center Cove, the mixer attracted almost 100 undergraduate students, alumni, and professionals. Alumnus James Connolly, ENG’83, said he was pleasantly surprised at the event’s success.

“The biggest issue [with hosting events] is student turnout, which was achieved,” he said.

Despite his doubts about participation, Connolly attended the event, always eager to come back and work with students. An engineer at Roche Pharmaceuticals, the former Rutgers Engineering Society president said that his interest in working with students stems from his own experiences as an undergraduate. Hoping to help create a positive experience for Rutgers engineers, he has been an active alumnus for many years, regularly working with other student organizations like the Engineering Governing Council.

Amna Bhutta, a junior in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, said that the simple exposure to alumni and professionals representing different industries, from pharmaceuticals to food, helps students discover their specific interests within chemical engineering.

“It’s difficult to see yourself as an engineer without meeting one,” she said. “We just ate and talked, about everything from our experiences as students to goals for the future.”

Bhutta said the informality of the mixer was what encouraged many students to attend.

“Normally, you meet people from industry at career fairs, which can be very intimidating – it’s scary to have a recruiter look over your resume and evaluate you while talking to you,” she said. “The mixer was a lot more relaxing atmosphere.”

At the event, Professor Celik also presented awards to two juniors and two seniors. Chosen by the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering faculty, each student was awarded for achievements in academics and either research or leadership. Junior Jacob D. Massa and senior Ingrid J. Paredes were named AIChE Scholar Researchers. Juniors Jared Forman and Derek McIntosh were named AIChE Scholar Leaders.

About the Awardees

Jacob D. Massa ENG’16 Jacob Massa has worked under Professor Fuat E. Celik in the field of computational catalysis since the fall of 2013. His research seeks to better inform the design of catalysts, compounds designed to increase the rate of chemical reactions, to add value to chemicals such as olefins and hydrogen gas.

The experience has opened many more opportunities for Massa, whose work sent him a laboratory at the University of Houston for the summer of 2014. He also presented his work at the 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Student Conference, with his poster placing second in the Undergraduate Poster Session under his division for Catalysis and Reaction Engineering. Though still unsure of his plans following graduation, Massa is interested in teaching and industry.

Ingrid J. Paredes ENG’15 Ingrid Paredes has worked with the  Rutgers Catalyst Manufacturing Engineering and Science Consortium under the guidance of Professor Benjamin Glasser, Visiting Scientist Dr. William Borghard, and Postdoctoral Associates Heather Emady and Bereket Yohannes since the summer of 2013.  Her research seeks to provide a fundamental understanding of rotary calcination, a widely used process in catalyst manufacturing. She hopes to provide a methodology for optimization of the process through understanding the effects of material properties, operating conditions, and reactor geometry on particle residence time and temperature distributions.

Her work has garnered her positive attention, with sponsorship from ExxonMobil Research and Engineering in the summer of 2014, and first place in the Undergraduate Poster Session under her division for Catalysis and Reaction Engineering. After graduation, she plans to pursue a graduate degree in chemical engineering.

Jared Forman ENG'16

As president of the Rutgers student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Jared Forman spent his term increasing organization membership and activity on campus. His single goal was to create a close-knit community among chemical engineering undergraduate students, graduate students and faculty through department wide events. He has since stepped down from his position, but he has remained active as the organization’s Engineering Governing Council representative, communicating organization and department needs to the entire engineering student body. He hopes to work in the fuels industry after graduation.

Derek McIntosh ENG’16

Derek McIntosh joined Omega Chi Epsilon as a sophomore in the fall of 2012, first getting involved as the organization’s public relations and marketing chair and then as special events manager before taking on the role of president for the 2014–2015 academic year. As president, Derek has organized and established many annual department events, including an industry panel, research symposium and local plant tours. After graduation, McIntosh will take on a position as a process engineer for Procter & Gamble at their paper and pulping plant. 

Each awardee received a monetary prize sponsored by the New Jersey chapter of AIChE.