Every profession needs their champions (Day 23)

Albert Einstein
Science icon – Albert Einstein (Bokic Bojan – Shutterstock.com)

Patrons, envoys, role models, ambassadors, champions. Call them what you want, but symbolic leaders are valuable in all walks of life. Should professions be any different? And have you ever considered who are the champions for the chemical engineering profession?

A few years ago tce magazine wrote a fantastic series of articles about chemical engineers who changed the world. Starting with pioneers like Johann Glauber in the 1600s, tce gradually worked their way through people like George E Davis, Fritz Haber & Carl Bosch, Victor Mills, Trevor Kletz and Yoshio Nishi.

Continue reading Every profession needs their champions (Day 23)

Where are you now? (Day 19)

MembraneI’m sure, like me, you meet and work with a great deal of people. But time never stands still and rarely do people. However, writing my blog over these first few weeks has made me realise the power of social media to connect and re-connect with people.

It’s also a chance to find out how organisations like IChemE have influenced the life and careers of its members, and many other people we try to help.

Continue reading Where are you now? (Day 19)

Great friends in great places (Day 18)

Honorary Fellowship -MalaysiaIt’s generally well-known that relationships and how we work with our partners and stakeholders is important in the modern business world. Indeed, many organisations in the chemical and process industries have large PR machines and lobbies to represent their interests.

Of course, at IChemE, we do the same, but in a much smaller way. And as president of the Institution of Chemical Engineers it is my pleasure and privilege to represent the profession and meet a great range of people nearly every day.

Continue reading Great friends in great places (Day 18)

Youthful role models (Day 17)

VolunteerIn the UK, we’ve just celebrated National Volunteers Week. It’s an annual celebration of the effort and dedication of millions of people who provide their time and expertise to help others and a whole host of causes.

It’s also a chance for organisations like IChemE to simply say ‘thank you’ to the thousands of chemical engineers that have, and are continuing to help advance chemical engineering worldwide.

I think engineers and voluntary work are natural partners. And when those volunteers are young engineers special things can happen.

Continue reading Youthful role models (Day 17)

Poems and posters (Day 15)

Catalytic PoemI’m not too sure how many scientists collaborate with poets, but that’s just what’s happened in Sheffield, UK.

Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at the University, and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science Professor Tony Ryan, have created a catalytic poem (I think we can safely say this is a world’s first… but you never know).

So what is a catalytic poem? Well, between the pair of them, they’ve produced a huge poster of the poem called ‘In Praise of Air’. The poster material contains a formula invented at the University of Sheffield which is capable of purifying its surroundings.

Continue reading Poems and posters (Day 15)

Mini biodiesel reactor takes to the road (Day 12)

UTM Mini Biodiesel Reactor
UTM Mini Biodiesel Reactor

Do you find it hard to explain what you do and why it’s important? It’s a common problem and even the best communicators struggle to convey the science, complexity, scale and even the products we make – industrial or for consumers.

However, it was great to see a project this week in Malaysia where students from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia took a mobile mini biodiesel reactor into the streets to help the general public’s understanding of biodiesel. It’s the type of initiative that fits perfectly with the ChemEng365 campaign.

Continue reading Mini biodiesel reactor takes to the road (Day 12)

What made you become a chemical engineer? (Day 11)

PotteryI was born in Stoke-on-Trent in the 1940s where my father worked for Podmore and Sons, which made and processed raw materials like clays and glazes for the pottery industry.

My father’s connection to Podmore and Sons opened a door to some summer vacation work and it became my first exposure to both industrial chemistry and engineering. The rest is history.

Today, many people are undoubtedly attracted by the excellent pay, travel and simple job satisfaction from working in some of the fascinating and important industries which form the building blocks of the modern world.

Continue reading What made you become a chemical engineer? (Day 11)

A roll of honour (Day 10)

medalsOne of my first privileges as president is to present medals to some outstanding people at IChemE’s Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The Institution has been awarding medals since 1928 when the Osborne Reynolds medal (now known as the Arnold Greene medal) was presented to former IChemE president Sir Alexander Gibb.

In 2013, over 20 individuals and organisations were honoured for their achievements and exceptional work across all aspects of chemical, process and biochemical engineering.

Continue reading A roll of honour (Day 10)

Stirring stuff (Day 9)

CellsAn international collaboration of researchers in Germany, Netherlands and the US have used chemical engineering principles to track single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes.

Chemical engineers from Rice University and biophysicists from Georg-August Universität Göttingen and VU University Amsterdam found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, was published in Science.

Continue reading Stirring stuff (Day 9)

Elephants in the room? (Day 8)

Elephant in the roomI had an interesting message from IChemE member and MediaEnvoy Keith Plumb overnight.

It covers a sensitive and sometimes controversial issue – the growth of human population – but he also points out the power of individuals to make a difference.

Using Keith’s words he says: “The elephant in the room with respect to climate change is the growth of the human population. I used to think that chemical engineers could do little until I read an article about a man in India who developed a simple machine for making sanitary towels.”

Continue reading Elephants in the room? (Day 8)

Stronger 3D printing (Day 7)

3D letter ball3D printing has made mainstream news in recent years and there are regular reports of fascinating products being produced by this quickly developing technology.

Last week there was a story about researchers at the University Medical Centre Utrecht experimenting using stem cells in 3D bio-printing. The result could be 3D printed body parts.

The materials used in 3D printing are important to the whole process.

Continue reading Stronger 3D printing (Day 7)

Three cheers for our new Fellows (Day 6)

There’s lots of ways to advance chemical engineering worldwide, individually and collectively.

One of the best ways is to demonstrate technical excellence and leadership of your peers; to achieve distinction; to make a significant contribution to the profession. In other words, achieve Fellowship.

To become a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers is a tremendous achievement. Today, I am pleased to announce 29 new names to our list of around 2,900 Fellows across the world.

Continue reading Three cheers for our new Fellows (Day 6)

It’s all about talent management (Day 4)

As a professor of energy engineering at Imperial College London you would expect me to have a passion for education and a desire for learning. Hopefully, they are virtues we pass on to our students, which they hold throughout their careers.

But once students leave and enter the world of work their employers become pivotal to their continuing professional development.

And that’s why IChemE set-up its Corporate Partner initiative. The scheme publicly recognises organisations that invest significantly in their chemical engineering talent.

Continue reading It’s all about talent management (Day 4)