Author: College of Engineering

Sue Hill is the Digital Content Manager for the College of Engineering.

2022 ChE EAB Poster Exhibition Winners

The Department of Chemical Engineering (ChE) would like to congratulate the following students as winners of the External Advisory Board (EAB) Poster Session.

Undergrad Research

  • First Place: Libby Umlor
  • Second Place: Sheridan Waldack

Graduate Research

  • First Place: Seth Kriz
  • Second Place (tie): Sarvada Chipkar and Grace Dykstra

Student Organization

  • First Place: Nathan Summers and Addymae Palecek (AIChE)
  • Second Place: Katie Smith (Omega Chi Epsilon)

These posters and their research are posted in the hallways (Chem Sci second and third floors). All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to come see what research our students and faculty are involved in.

By Chemical Engineering.

Outstanding Scholarship Award for Sarvada Chipkar

Sarvada Chipkar
Sarvada Chipkar

Chemical engineering graduate student Sarvada Chipkar is a recipient of the Outstanding Scholarship Award for Fall 2022, as announced by Michigan Tech’s Graduate School. She was nominated by her department in recognition of her academic performance. A certificate of recognition for this award will be presented at the Graduate Research Colloquium Banquet that is held in the spring.

Chipkar is a fifth year PhD student in Rebecca Ong’s Biofuel and Bioproducts Laboratory at Michigan Tech. She completed her Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Chemical Engineering from University of Mumbai, India, in 2017. Her current research focuses on characterizing fungal inhibitors generated in switchgrass during the U.S. Midwestern drought of 2012. In her free time, she likes to do gardening, painting, and cooking/baking. She won an award for her research poster in the “applied research” category at the Symposium for Biomaterials, Fuels and Chemicals (SBFC) organized by SIMB, the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, in May 2022.

Research Abstract

Developing economically viable and greener pathways to synthesize renewable energy has become an important research theme in recent years. Lignocellulosic biomass is a promising group of feedstocks that can be used for second-generation biofuel production. Recent research has shown that environmental growth conditions alter biomass characteristics and directly influence the extent of biomass conversion to fuels. Environmental scientists have predicted that the effects of climate change would affect marginal lands more than fertile ones. Previously, drought experienced during the growth of switchgrass on marginal land led to complete inhibition of yeast growth during fermentation. Our goal in this project was to characterize specific compounds that led to this inhibition. Switchgrass harvested in drought (2012) and non-drought (2010) years were pretreated using Ammonia Fiber Expansion (AFEX). Untreated and AFEX processed samples were then extracted using solvents (i.e., water, ethanol, and ethyl acetate) to selectively remove potential inhibitory compounds. A key goal was to determine whether the microbial inhibitors were plant-generated compounds, by-products of the pretreatment process, or a combination of both. High solids loading enzymatic hydrolysis was performed on all samples, followed by fermentation using Saccharomyces cerevisiae (GLBRCY945). Cell growth (OD600), sugar consumption, and ethanol production were used to evaluate fermentation performance. Extracts were analyzed using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) to identify potential inhibitory compounds. Non-targeted positive ion mode MS analysis was conducted to annotate the identities of unknown inhibitors. We found that water extraction of drought-year switchgrass before AFEX pretreatment was most effective in overcoming yeast inhibition. We identified plant-generated compounds called saponins, commonly known as “natural laundry detergents”, in the water extracts that foam on agitation with water. These may potentially contribute towards yeast inhibition.

NOBCChE Brings Chemistry to Baraga Youth

As part of its goal of outreach to the local community and promoting STEM — and chemistry in particular — to young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, the MTU student chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) recently organized an outreach event for the high school chemistry class of Baraga Area Schools.

A hands-on explorative activity on paper chromatography was the focus of the outreach event, introducing students to the wide array of applications of chromatography as a separation technique. After introducing students to the concept of chromatography, students were able to see it come alive by separating various colored inks into their constituents. After this introductory activity, students used their chromatography skills to do some forensic analysis on an ink sample and pens from various “suspects” to see who was responsible for defacing a very expensive book from the school library. Finally, the volunteers engaged the students in a discussion to synthesize their observations and draw out the big scientific ideas.

The students were very focused, interactive and excited about the activities. Some of them, when asked to comment on the activity, noted that it was engaging and insightful. One even said, “This is so cool and fun.”

NOBCChE hopes to continue to get out in the local schools and open up the wide world of chemistry to area students. See photos from the outreach event.

Michigan Tech graduate students in chemistry and chemical engineering — Sodiq Waheed, Kobina Ofori, Parya Siacheshm and Monica Nyansa — organized this outreach event with NOBCCHE advisor Jeremy Brown (Chem). The event was funded by the NOBCChE K-12 Initiative.

By MTU NOBCChE Student Chapter.

Chemical Engineering Convocation 2022

The Department of Chemical Engineering proudly bestows honors and awards to ChE students each spring by way of a Convocation Awards Ceremony. Awards were presented on April 11, 2022.

The faculty and staff of Chemical Engineering join together in offering our sincerest congratulations to all of our honored recipients and this year’s graduating class. Kudos on your resilience, determination and drive for success.

Keynote Speaker

Meg Guillaumin ’03

Plant Manager at DTE Energy

Meg Guillaumin is a plant manager for DTE Energy, a Detroit-based energy company serving 2.2 million electric customers in Southeast Michigan and 1.3 million natural gas customers across the state. DTE Energy aspires to be the best operated energy company in North America, and a force for growth in the communities where we live and serve.

Meg is currently responsible for the Blue Water Energy Center, DTE Energy’s state of the art combined cycle natural gas facility set to begin commercial operation in spring 2022. Upon completion, Blue Water will supply enough electricity to power 850,000 homes and supports DTE Energy’s progress in reducing carbon emissions by more than 80% by 2040.

Prior to her current role Meg was the manager of the Greenwood Energy Center and Peaking organizations, constituting over 1/3 of DTE Energy’s total generating capacity. She has held other leadership roles in the operation, maintenance and engineering support of power plant facilities across her career.

Meg earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Technological University in 2003 and began her career with DTE Energy upon graduation. She is currently the chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering External Advisory Board.

Chair’s Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Senior

Riley Andersen

The Chair’s Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Senior recognizes the exceptional record of a chemical engineering graduating senior for their academic achievement, experiential learning activities, and community engagement. To be eligible for consideration the candidate must be graduating in the current calendar year, demonstrate their commitment to the chemical engineering profession, and show how their activities have positively impacted others through inspiration, action, and/or leadership. This award consists of a certificate and monetary award in the amount of $1,000

Excellence in Communication Award

Sarah Foyer

The Excellence in Communication Award was created to acknowledge the critical role that effective communication plays in successful leadership. This award recognizes a graduating senior from the department of chemical engineering for their effective use of communication of the highest standard. Candidates for this award may be nominated by faculty, staff, or students.

Professional Ethics Award

Gabrielle Feber

This award recognizes a student who has exhibited exemplary ethics and admirable professional conduct during Plant Design and Unit Operations experiences and throughout their academic career at Michigan Technological University.

Prevent Accidents With Safety (PAWS) Award

Bella Haberski

The Prevent Accidents with Safety (PAWS) Undergraduate Lab Safety Program is a comprehensive safety program requiring training, constant vigilance, and incident reporting and documentation systems— all with an eye toward critical review and continuous improvement. The Prevent Accidents with Safety (PAWS) program provides a framework to develop the necessary safety culture within the student community. The key to the PAWS program is that the students in the Unit Operations Laboratory bear the responsibility for personal health and safety and for the safety of those around them. Specific safety-related responsibilities are assigned to the students in addition to their course responsibilities. The student-owned portion of the PAWS program is built around a safety committee and a communications and documentation system.

Dow Chemical Marriot W. Bredekamp Award

Joshua Bilkey, Michael Schumacher, and Dianna Westrick

This award recognizes outstanding technical skills in the laboratory, outstanding teamwork and professionalism, effective oral and written communication, and strong adherence to process safety practices as recognized by your peers and supported by the faculty of the department. This award is in memory of Dr. Marriott W. Bredekamp.

Senior Design Team Awards

Dr. John Patton, as Chair and faculty member, initiated much of the content of today’s design courses in the ChE Department. He brought his experiences at Exxon to the classroom to provide students with a systematic way to design and analyze a new large-scale capital project. This award recognizes the student team in CM4861 that created the best plant design and recommendation for Fictitious Chemical Company. The three finalist teams for the Patton Award are:

Winner (John T. Patton Award for $1000): Team Bernoulli

Alicia Ball, Mykenzie Garza, Jessie McInnis, and Morgan Ottman for “Biomass to Transportation Fuels by the Fischer-Tropsch Process”

Runner-up ($600): Team Cupreous

AJ Alexa, Nate Liebhauser, Jeremy Lien, and Zachary Olson for “Vinyl Chloride Production by the Direct Chlorination of Ethylene”

Third Place ($400): Team Fenske

Clayton Lynn, Devon Price, John Sullens, and John Ylitalo for “Ibuprofen Production by the BHC Company Process”

Davis W. Hubbard Outstanding Rising Senior Award

Sheridan Waldack

Dr. Davis W. Hubbard was a faculty member in the Department of Chemical Engineering for many years. He was committed to engineering education and inspired a generation of students to excel through hard work and perseverance. The eligible candidate for this award has completed all their junior-level core chemical engineering courses. The selection of the award is based on (i) grade point average for the course work done at Michigan Technological University, (ii) research engagement, and (iii) internship/co-op work experience. The award consists of a certificate and monetary award in the amount of $1000.

Student Organization Leadership Awards


Stephanie Manthei


Gabrielle Feber


Brooke Bates


Nathan Schaar


Devon Price


Jessie Lyons

AIChE Awards

Teacher of the Year Award

Jeanna Collins

Research Mentor of the Year Award

David Shonnard

Jeanna Collins with presenter.
Jeanna Collins (left)
David Shonnard with presenter.
David Shonnard (left)

Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Award

John Szczap

Undergraduate Grader of the Year

Riley Smith

Staff Making a Difference Award

Katie Torrey

Katie Torrey with presenter.
Katie Torrey (left)

Peer Mentor and Coach of the Year

Tie: Quinn Miller and Riley Andersen

Quinn Miller with presenter.
Quinn Miller (left)
Riley Andersen with presenter.
Riley Andersen (left)

Chemical Engineering Order of the Engineer 2022


On April 6, 2022, the Department of Chemical Engineering hosted its Order of the Engineer induction ceremony. The ceremony welcomed 28 new members to the order.

Austin Alexa
Alicia Ball
Lydia Bell
Joshua M. Bilkey
Autumn Cole
Elisha Coleman
Tarot M. Denger
Sarah Foyer
Brady T. Good
Andrew Gryspeerd
Rachael Haslam
Sarah Kempin
Paul Langsford
Jeremy Lien

Audrey Lyons
Stephanie Manthei
Emerald Mehler
Morgan Miller
Kira Millhausen
Zachary Olson
Morgan Ottman
Zachary D. Peil
Abigail Pula
Rebecca Rivera
Michael Schumacher
Jonathan Sullens
Rebecca Williams
John Lawrence Ylitalo

Keynote Speaker Audra Thurston

Audra Thurston graduated from Michigan Tech in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. After graduation, she started as a process engineer at Calumet Electronics Corporation, a printed circuit board engineering and manufacturing facility located in Calumet, Michigan. In 2019, she represented IPC, the global trade association for electronics, at the White House as part of the President’s Pledge to American Workers. In 2021, she transitioned from process engineering to Calumet Electronics’ first R&D team. That same year, she won IPC’s Rising Star Award. Outside of work, she is a board member of Keweenaw Young Professionals.

About The Order

The Order of the Engineer was initiated in the United States to foster a spirit of pride and responsibility in the engineering profession, to bridge the gap between training and experience, and to present to the public a visible symbol identifying the engineer. Learn more about the Order of the Engineer.


The first ceremony was held on June 4, 1970 at Cleveland State University. Since then, similar ceremonies have been held across the United States at which graduate and registered engineers are invited to accept the Obligation of the Engineer and a stainless steel ring. The ceremonies are conducted by Links (local sections) of the Order. Learn more about the history of the Order of the Engineer.

Bill Hammack Elected to National Academy of Engineers

William S Hammack
William S Hammack

Bill Hammack, ChE ’84, William H. and Janet G. Lycan Professor, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign has been elected a member of the National Academy of Engineers (NAE) for innovations in multidisciplinary engineering education, outreach, and service to the profession through development and communication of internet-delivered content.

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Individuals in the newly elected class will be formally inducted during the NAE’s annual meeting on Oct. 2, 2022. 111 US nationals and 22 international engineers were selected for this honor.

Bill was featured in the last ChE newsletter for having received the Carl Sagan Award in 2019.

Engineering Research Initiation NSF Grant for Yixin Liu

Yixin Liu
Yixin Liu

Assistant Professor Yixin Liu has has been awarded an Engineering Research Initiation (ERI) NSF grant – “In-Situ Fabrication of Dual-Template Imprinted Nanocomposites for Simultaneous Detection of Glucose and Cortisol.” The total award for this two-year project is $199,972.


People with diabetes are 2-3 times more likely to have depression than people without diabetes. Meanwhile, depressive or anxiety symptoms, often associated with elevated cortisol (the “stress hormone”), can lead to the onset of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Monitoring both glucose and cortisol levels regularly in a cost-effective and effortless way is highly desired to manage diabetes and stress, and prevent prediabetes from progressing to full-blown T2D.

This project aims to develop an enzyme-free and antibody-free electrochemical sensor to simultaneously detect glucose and cortisol coupled with machine learning techniques.

The knowledge gained from this research will lead to low-cost biosensing devices and manufacturing processes.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.

Pradeep Agrawal Shares Lessons on Management during a Global Pandemic

Professor and Chair Pradeep Agrawal was among leaders presenting for a virtual knowledge sharing session on “Lessons Learned from Effectively Managing Projects and Teams during a Global Pandemic,” sponsored by the AIChE Management Division. Agrawal presented “Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic at Michigan Technological University,” co-authored by Jeanna Collins, Kurt A. Rickard, and Tony N. Rogers.

The presentation took place on November 16 during the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting.

The session was chaired by Dhaval Bhandari of ExxonMobil Research and Engineering. According to Bhandari, “It was humbling to listen to how each organization/team presented with unique circumstances developed their own unique solutions often not knowing what tomorrow will bring.”