Category: News

Chemical Engineering Convocation 2021

The Department of Chemical Engineering proudly bestows honors and awards to ChE students each spring by way of a Convocation Awards Ceremony. This year we were unable to host an in-person event, but were fortunate to recognize our students virtually on April 16, 2021.

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

Bradley Rick

Bradley Rick ’84 ’86

Bradley Rick earned his BSChE in 1984 and his MSChE in 1986, both from Michigan Tech.

During his graduate studies Brad was part of a research team sponsored by the US Environmental Protection Agency, studying the adsorption of VOCs in off-gas emitted from air-stripping towers that treated contaminated groundwater. Brad has spent his 35-year career working at Amway Corporation, an $8B global leader in direct selling consumer products, located in Ada, Michigan.

His early years were devoted to engineering roles in both process development and product R&D. As a result, Brad holds multiple patents, and has held executive positions at Amway over the past 20 years in Quality Assurance, Information Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing. Brad is currently is Director of Manufacturing at Amway, responsible for a family of plants making paper and plastic packaging, powdered nutrition drinks, soft gel vitamin supplements, probiotics, and carbonated energy drinks.

Chair’s Award for Outstanding Chemical Engineering Senior

Matt Harris

Matt Harris

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.

Matt has been involved in many student organizations on campus, holding various leadership positions, taken on many volunteer roles, has worked multiple co-op and internship positions, all while maintaining a high level of academic achievement. Where Matt’s experience at Michigan Tech stood out from his peers was in his commitment to mentoring students, demonstrated through his involvement with the rowing activities on campus as part-time coach and instructor, as well as his involvement with the department’s student advisory board and peer mentoring program. Matt has taken the opportunity to positively impact students across campus with these activities as well as provide service to the department by contributing valuable feedback about the current student experience and assisting his peers. Matt’s willingness to openly share what he has learned on how to be successful with other students is an asset to not just the students he helps but to the chemical engineering program and university as a whole.

Excellence in Communication Award

Erin Andersen

Erin Andersen

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.

Erin was nominated by a student. Her nominator states:

“…I would like to nominate Erin Anderson for the Excellence in Communication Award. I believe she qualifies for this award as she was an amazing Orientation Leader. As an incoming Freshman in 2018, there were a lot of things I was not aware of initially entering college that she effectively communicated to me as an Orientation Leader. She also provided a Welcoming Environment for me and my peers in our group, and made herself available for any questions and or concerns I might’ve had. From the beginnings of my college experience as a Freshman, she helped Communicate to me that Michigan Tech was an Inclusive and Enjoyable place to go to college…”

Professional Ethics Award

Bryce Walbrun and companion
Bryce Walbrun (left)

Bryce Walbrun

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.

Bryce Walbrun was nominated for this award by a faculty member because of his honesty and candor, even extending to self-evaluation of his own performance as a CPM Enterprise project leader. In Enterprise and his coursework, Bryce has shown awareness of the importance of following ethical guidelines, and he has asked probing questions about workplace ethical dilemmas.

Prevent Accidents With Safety (PAWS) Award

Meredith Grusnick

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.

Throughout the capstone lab sequence, Meredith promoted a strong safety culture and worked to improve our safety program. In addition to being part of the safety team, Meredith organized a guest speaker, a Health & Safety Specialist at Dow Chemical, to talk with the class about industrial safety, specifically covering safety incidents, the response to those incidents, and the protocols put in place because of them. Meredith felt these topics are relevant to her peers, and discussing them would provide an opportunity to gain an understanding of management systems that are in place and the role of chemical engineers in these systems.

Marriot W. Bredekamp Award

Joleen Adams, David Alger, Kevin Miltenberger and Kyle Koetje

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. Marriot W. Bredekamp.

Joleen Adams
Joleen Adams
David Alger
David Alger
Kevin Miltenberger
Kevin Miltenberger
Kyle Koetje
Kyle Koetje

Senior Design Team Awards

First Place (John T. Patton Award)

Michael Griggs, Paul Langsford, Matthew Schienke, and James Somerville for “FCC Ostromislensky Chemical Plant Producing 1,3-Butadiene from Ethanol”

Michael Griggs
Michael Griggs
Paul Langsford
Paul Langsford
Matthew Schienke
Matthew Schienke
James Somerville
James Somerville

Second Place

Mallory Bunker, Emily Burke, Meredith Grusnick, and Bridget O’Connell for “Proposal for an FCC Hydrocarbons Plant Producing Ethylene from Raw Ethane in Baton Rouge, LA”

Mallory Bunker
Mallory Bunker
Emily Burke
Emily Burke
Bridget O’Connell
Bridget O’Connell

Third Place

David Alger, Shane Cruthers, Jon Hook, and Kyle Koetje for “FCC Expansion into Crude Oil Refining”

David Alger
David Alger
Shane Cruthers
Shane Cruthers
Jon Hook
Jon Hook
Kyle Koetje
Kyle Koetje

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. We are proud that Dr. Patton, in retirement, can see the elements of design he taught are alive and well in our soon-to-be graduates.

Davis W. Hubbard Outstanding Rising Senior Award

Cameron Reid

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.

In addition to Cameron’s impressive performance in his course work at Michigan Tech and co-op experience, Cameron has been the treasurer for AIChE for the last year.  He has been very involved with the organization, both as a member and on the e-board. Cameron has been described by his nominator as “very proactive and timely, bringing new ideas to the table and getting tasks done efficiently”.

Student Organization Leadership Awards

AIChE

AIChE had an outstanding E-board this year. They worked extremely well together to improve the organization, including increasing the number of companies that participated at meetings. This year’s eboard was led by Tanner Sheahan. Tanner’s efforts to improve AIChE has resulted in an increased number of meetings, sponsors, and opportunities for our students. Congratulations Tanner.

CMLC

As the coordinator for the CMLC this year, Bryce was presented with a challenge of how to organize everything. He needed to make sure that students could get the help that they needed, while also making sure that the rules for distancing and preventing potential disease spread were followed. He rose to the challenge, and the CMLC coaches were able to do what needed to be done while still ensuring that everyone could remain healthy.

CPM

This year, the CPM Enterprise has 10 projects and nearly 50 students, so it is a complex organization to keep on track.  Jacob Michaud (President) and Kelsey Farrell (V.P.) have teamed up this year to keep CPM running like a well-oiled machine.  Their imprint will continue to be felt for years to come.  Both have set high standards for themselves, and they have seen to it that students under their management get a good Enterprise experience.  Jacob and Kelsey deserve our acknowledgment and recognition.

OXE

Omega Chi Epsilon is the National Honor Society for Chemical Engineering. The Society promotes high scholarship, encourages original investigation in chemical engineering and recognizes the valuable traits of character, integrity and leadership. It serves both undergraduate and graduate students and fosters meaningful student-faculty dialogue. 

In recognition of his leadership of OXE over the past year, the OXE award goes to former president John Baughn.

SAB

The SAB leadership award goes to Matt Harris. The Student Advisory Board this year had a very talented and engaged team that, in addition to continuing past initiatives, took on a new initiative this year to review the Department web-site and social media from a students’ perspective and how it can be improved in terms of ease of navigation and finding the needed information. As SAB President, Matt Harris led and motivated a very capable team. The true sign of a leader is to position the organization so it can function smoothly afterwards.

AEE

Jacob Orlando has been elected twice as president to serve on the leadership board of the Alternative Energy Enterprise (AEE) for the past two years. To be elected president twice is a pretty remarkable feat in itself. As one of the faculty mentors in AEE, along with Jay Meldrum, I have appreciated Jacob’s enthusiasm for alternative energy, his ability to keep the various AEE teams organized, and in providing encouragement to students in AEE to take advantage of the opportunities that it offers. Congratulations Jacob.

AIChE Awards

Teacher of the Year Award

Dr. Faith Morrison

Research Mentor of the Year Award

Dr. Caryn Heldt

Graduate Teaching Assistant of the Year Award

Elizabeth Hoekstra

Undergraduate Grader of the Year

Kevin Miltenberger

Staff Making a Difference Award

Stefan Wisniewski


Larkin Hooker-Moericke is an Exceptional Leader in Student Governance

Larkin Hooker-Moericke
Larkin Hooker-Moericke

Outstanding students, staff, and a special alumni were honored Friday (April 16, 2021) during Michigan Tech’s 27th Annual Student Leadership Awards Virtual Ceremony.

Nathan Ford, a graduate student, and Larkin Hooker-Moericke, an undergraduate student, were recognized as Exceptional Leaders in Student Governance. Both have collaborated on numerous projects and contributions for their constituency over the past year. With the unconventional year, they have shown to pivot and jointly work together to serve the students of Michigan Tech. They have advocated for modifications to various academic policies that have made significant impacts, formed several new committees to address student concerns, and worked tirelessly to minimize disruptions to the student experience. Their nomination states that the list of all the specific things they have done is just too long, but what is really important is that at no point have Larkin and Nathan lost sight of their job: the well-being and success of all students.

Larkin, President of Undergraduate Student Government, is a chemical engineering major.

27th Annual Student Leadership Awards


Utkarsh Chaudhari Takes First Place in GRC 2021 Poster Session

Utkarsh Chaudhari
Utkarsh Chaudhari

Poster Session

First place was won by Utkarsh Chaudhari from the Department of Chemical Engineering for his presentation titled “Systems Analysis Approach to PET and Olefin Plastics Supply Chains in the Circular Economy.”

View the Poster Presentations, Group 2, and the PDF.

This year’s Graduate Research Colloquium organized by the Graduate Student Government was hosted virtually due to COVID restrictions. There were in total 48 presentations — 17 poster presenters and 31 oral presenters.

Poster presentations took place in a pre-recorded video style and the oral sessions were hosted live via Zoom. You can watch all the poster videos and recordings for the oral sessions here. Each presentation was scored by two judges from the same field of research.

Participants were able to gain valuable feedback from these judges before presenting their research at an actual conference. It was stiff competition amongst all presenters.

A hearty congratulations to all the winners at this year’s Colloquium. The Graduate Student Government would like to thank everyone: presenters, judges, volunteers, and GSG supporters, for making this a great event despite COVID-19 restrictions. GSG would also like to hear ways in which this event could be improved next year using this feedback form.

By Graduate Student Government.


Circular Economy Award Announced by DOE

Recycling symbol.

Michigan Tech has received notification of a new award valued at $1,027,008 from the REMADE Institute, a public-private partnership established by the United States Department of Energy and the first institute in the U.S. dedicated to accelerating the nation’s transition to a Circular Economy.

“Along with our partners, we are excited to receive this award for the project ‘Dynamic Systems Analysis of PET and Olefin Polymers in a Circular Economy'” said David Shonnard, PI, Robbins Chair in Sustainable Use of Materials, Department of Chemical Engineering.

The total funding amount is cost-shared between REMADE and Michigan Tech, along with partners Idaho National Laboratory, Yale University, Chemstations Inc., Honeywell UOP, and Resource Recycling Systems.

The project is expected to result in multiple positive impacts, including: 

  • New process models and datasets for systems analysis of a circular economy for plastics
  • Optimized plastics circular economy designs to minimize emissions and costs
  • Case study applications to plastics circular economy designs for the state of Michigan

This award is the second and the largest REMADE awarded to Michigan Tech, and involves co-investigators Robert Handler (Sustainable Futures Institute) and Distinguished Professor David Watkins (CEE).

The project is expected to begin on Sept. 1, 2021. Please send any questions or comments to David Shonnard.

By David Shonnard.


Society of Women Engineers Scholarship Recipient Josie Edick

Josie Edick
Josie Edick

Annually, the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) Section at Michigan Tech awards scholarships to students who are active in the organization to help with their university expenses.

Josie Edick, a junior in Chemical Engineering met or exceeded the scholarship criteria: “we are looking for students who share the same values as SWE, and will or have made a positive impact on our school and organization. Remember the SWE Core Values and the SWE Motto: Aspire, Advance, Achieve.”

She also received an SWE National Scholarship, the 2020 Bayer Scholarship. We greatly appreciate Bayer’s support of SWE collegiates. Edick has not only completed a co-op at Shaw Industries but she has served as our section treasurer for the past two years.

“Congratulations, Josie on your scholarships and accomplishments.”

Gretchen Hein, SWE Advisor

Faith Morrison Recognized by Fraternities and Sororities

Faith A. Morrison
Faith A. Morrison

Last Sunday (Jan. 24), more than 160 computer screens of students, faculty, staff and community members gathered for the 15th Annual Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Ceremony held via Zoom.

In addition to the many student awards presented, Order of Omega, the Fraternity and Sorority Life Honor Society that coordinates the awards, took the time to recognize some exceptional faculty and staff members.

There are more than 460 students in fraternities and sororities at Michigan Tech, and Order of Omega wanted to emphasize that these awards were coming directly from the students.

The following faculty and staff members were nominated by members of the Greek community and recognized at the 2021 Fraternity and Sorority Life Awards Ceremony (winners are in bold type):

Faculty

  • Gordon Parker (Mechanical Engineering)
  • Faith Morrison (Chemical Engineering)
  • Glen Archer (Electrical & Computer Engineering)

Staff

  • Alan Turnquist (Waino Wahtera Center for Student Success)
  • Jessie Stapleton (Student Leadership & Involvement)

Advisors

  • Laura Bulleit (Dean of Students)
  • Alyssa Fredin (Student Financial Services)
  • James Schmierer (Forest Resources & Environmental Science)
  • Jannah Tumey (Center for Educational Outreach)
  • Jeannie DeClerck (Instructional Design & Assessment)
  • Joe Cooper (Interim VP for Student Affairs and Dean of Students)

These nominations were written by individual students and were supported by an entire fraternity or sorority. Congratulations to all of these faculty and staff members who were nominated and thank you for inspiring and motivating students. A complete list of all the award winners can be found on the Student Leadership and Involvement web page.

by Fraternity and Sorority Life


Steve Wisniewski Goes Above and Beyond

Steve Wisniewski
Steve Wisniewski

The Staff Council is celebrating the 2020 Staff Council Making a Difference awards winners. Among the winners is Stefan (Steve) Wisniewski, Research Associate, Chemical Engineering.

Above and Beyond Award

Stefan’s nominator says that the “knowledge and work ethic that Steve brings to the department is unparalleled. Steve is dedicated to our students’ education. He has taken the initiative to add to the students’ experience in the Unit Operations lab, including adding troubleshooting exercises, teaching how to build a control loop in DeltaV (commonly used software in the field of chemical engineering), showing lockout/tagout procedures (safety protocol), and providing opportunities for students to learn about designing, ordering, and installing equipment. Steve’s work with the students is outstanding, and I hear from the students how valuable Steve’s positive, steady presence has been to their education.”

“The knowledge and work ethic that Steve brings to the department is unparalleled. Steve is dedicated to our students’ education.”

Stefan’s nominator

A letter of support states that “It is Steve’s background in chemical plant maintenance and operation and his willingness to do whatever is required to provide a world-class educational experience for our students that makes him deserve this recognition.”


SFI Director Hosts EPA Region 5 Webinar

US EPA Region 5 States
EPA Region 5
Serving Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 Tribes

David Shonnard (ChE), director of the Sustainable Futures Institute (SFI) and the Robbins Endowed Chair in Sustainable Use of Materials hosted a webinar and panel discussion on environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP) on August 13, 2020.

The webinar was part of an ongoing project funded by the US EPA Region 5 to disseminate best practices in EPP and is a collaboration between SFI and the Great Lakes Environmental Infrastructure Center, directed by Tim Colling.

The webinar also featured two prominent guest panelists and EPP professionals from the states of Minnesota and California. The webinar video, associated documents, and Q&A can be found on the EPA site. Those with questions/comments may contact David Shonnard.


Julia King Retirement

Julia King
Julia King

The Department of Chemical Engineering wished a warm farewell to the esteemed professor, Julia A. King, the Lorna and James Mack Professorship of Continuous Processing, on Tuesday (June 30, 2020). After nearly 24 years of dedicated service to Michigan Tech, the Chemical Engineering Department, its students, faculty and staff, King will be setting her sights on a well-deserved retirement.

She has been an exceptional leader and mentor during her tenure at Michigan Tech. Her commitment and enthusiasm to her work, research and instruction will be irreplaceable.

Department Chair Pradeep Agrawal commented, “As director of the Unit Operations Laboratory, she has fostered its growth to become one of the best in the US and the pride of Michigan Tech.”

It is with great fortune for Tech and the Engineering world that she has decided to continue on with future research endeavors. She will be sorely missed and her contributions to the University will not be forgotten. We wish her happiness and success in the next chapter of her life and future endeavors.


NSF Funding for David Shonnard on Waste Plastics Conversion Project

David Shonnard
David Shonnard

David Shonnard (ChE) is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $50,000 Federal grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The project is entitled, “I-Corps: Process Intensification in a Multi-Product Waste Polyolefin Refinery.” Ulises Gracida-Alvarez (ChE) and Nate Yenor (Innovation & Commercialization) are Co-PI’s on this project.

By Sponsored Programs.

Extract

The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the development of a low-cost and energy-efficient conversion of mixed waste plastics into an intermediate product that the petrochemical industry can convert into new polymer resin.

This new technology will revolutionize the plastics recycling industry and will allow for closed-loop plastic material flows. The process technology will improve recycling of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) plastics from materials recovery facilities (MRFs), significant because PE and PP comprise over 50% of global plastics production and post-consumer waste generation.

The technology is based on rapid conversion at elevated temperature in a reactor with precise control over the molecular conversion mechanisms.

Read more at the National Science Foundation.