Shaping the evolution of chemical engineering – The Sargent Medal (Day 326)

Many people in the chemical engineering community have taken their inspiration from Professor Roger Sargent who served IChemE as its President in 1973. Roger is described by many as the “Father of process systems engineering”.

It was entirely fitting that IChemE should create a medal in his honour in 2014 to recognise research in computer-aided product and process engineering (CAPE).

Photo Credit | Carnegie Mellon University  Professor Ignacio E Grossmann

Professor Ignacio E Grossmann
Photo Credit | Carnegie Mellon University

The first recipient of the Sargent Medal is himself an undisputed leader in the field.

So it gives me real pleasure to congratulate Ignacio Grossmann, the Rudolph R. and Florence Dean University Professor of Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, US on this great achievement.

Roger Sargent’s influence in the field of process systems engineering is massive – not just because of his ground-breaking research, but also because of the extraordinary scale of his academic ‘family tree’ of research students. By the beginning of the 21st century, the tree included seven ‘generations’, numbering over six hundred people in all.

As a first-generation academic ‘son’ of Sargent, Ignacio is an absolute credit to him. Very few people have had such a large and lasting influence on academic research and engineering education.

Ignacio’s publication record is impressive. In addition to a classic textbook, Ignacio has produced more than 400 publications with over 12,000 citations. These cover a wide range of topics: from mixed-integer and logic-based optimisation; to energy and water management; and optimisation.

His research includes new modelling and solution methods for linear and non-linear discrete continuous optimisation problems, based on disjunctive programming in which equations and symbolic logic relations are formulated as part of the optimisation problem.

His team are also working on mixed-integer non-linear programming techniques for the synthesis of integrated process water networks: for superstructures of complex distillation; and for processes for designing biofuels.

Strategic infrastructure design and short term water management for shale gas production is also being addressed. The aim is to include environmental, as well as economic factors and impacts, through multi-objective optimisation.

Ignacio’s seminal publications have shaped the evolution of chemical engineering as we know it, through their profound influence on researchers, practitioners and professionals around the world.

family treeJust as deep and widespread has been his influence as an outstanding scholar and teacher. Through his pioneering work on mixed-integer mathematical modelling and optimisation, Ignacio has created essentially a whole new school of thought in engineering education.

His own academic ‘family tree’ features over 300 people, including eminent professors and top professionals across the engineering spectrum of activities. Inspired by him, they have also gone on to cultivate and champion his pursuit of excellence in engineering research, education and industry.

Ignacio is already the recipient of around 50 awards and honours for research and education in his birth country of Mexico, and also in North and South America, as well as Europe.

Back in 2003, he delivered the tenth Sargent Lecture at Imperial College London. So this latest award of IChemE’s first Roger Sargent Medal to Ignacio seems to me even more apt and well deserved.


To find out more about the Sargent Medal and other IChemE medals visit: www.icheme.org/medals

And if you know someone whose achievements are worthy of recognition through being nominated for an IChemE medal, why not download a nomination form.