Category: News

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.”

EAB Poster Session Awardees

EAB Poster Session Awards announced

Congrats to these students for their posters that were presented to the judges and EAB members on October 22nd in these categories:

  • Undergrad Research
    • 1st, Lauren Spahn/Raisa Carmen Andeme Ela, advisor Rebecca Ong
    • 2nd place, Ethan Burghardt/Seth Kriz, advisor Caryn Heldt 
  • Student Organization
    • 1st, ChemE Car, Sarah Foyer/Emily Leverance,/Axel Valeri, advisor Jeana Collins
    •  2nd place, CPM: Commercial Keg Cleaner, Autumn Cole/Mike Johnson/Cael Hansen/ James Staley/Frank Bruck, advisor Tony Rogers
  • Graduate Research
    • 1st Natalie Nold/Seth Kriz/ Sheridan Waldack/ Alexis Pohkrel/ Pratik Joshi, advisor Caryn Heldt
    • 2nd place, Tinuade Folayan, advisor Lei Pan

#mtuchemeng #mturesearch

ACS Student Research Symposium Awards

Graduate students Seth Kriz and Natalie Nold from Dr. Caryn Heldt’s lab placed third at the ACS Student Research Symposium that was held in Marquette, MI on October 23rd. Ethan Burghardt who is doing research in the Heldt Lab was also awarded 2nd place in the Undergraduate Award Session; Ethan is majoring in Chemistry. Congratulations to all!

The symposium provided a venue for students to present their research in chemistry, chemical engineering, and related fields. This symposium will be an excellent opportunity for students, faculty, and the community at large to learn about the interesting chemistry and related research being conducted in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The event was sponsored by the Upper Peninsula Section of the American Chemical Society

#mtuchemeng #mturesearch

Lauren Spahn to Present at AIChE Annual Meeting

Undergraduate chemical engineering student Lauren Spahn’s abstract was accepted for presentation at the 2021 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Undergraduate Student Poster Session. 

Spahn’s abstract, titled “Optimization of Lignin Precipitation with Functional Group Control for Use in Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams,” will be part of the Materials Engineering and Sciences session on Monday (Nov. 8) during the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, which is being held in Boston Nov. 7-11 and virtually from Nov. 15-19.

The AIChE Annual Meeting is the forum for ChEs interested in innovation and professional growth. Experts will cover wide range of topics relevant to cutting-edge research, new technologies, and emerging areas in the field. This year’s topic is “Building the Bridge in 21st Century Education.”

Optimization of Lignin Precipitation with Functional Group Control for Use in Bio-Based Polyurethane Foams
AIChE Undergraduate Student Poster Competition


By Chemical Engineering.

Guzdials Enrich Campus with Bench, Statue

Chris ‘63 and Jan Guzdial have made a gift of a granite bench and bronze Husky statue, placed just outside the McAllister Welcome Center in the Memorial Union Building.

The location will be a magnet for students — both current and prospective — to sit next to the Husky and snap a photo.

“We want to put smiles on students’ faces,” said Chris. “It was a struggle to get through Michigan Tech as a student, but Tech really helped me. I wanted to do something for Michigan Tech and the students here.”

Chris, a chemical engineering graduate, claims he “learned how to learn” at MTU, citing a couple of his instructors. “Mr. T.E. Vichich said in his class that you couldn’t just cram the night before an exam and expect to pass. You needed to do your homework daily. That proved to be true for me.

“Another instructor was my chemical engineering advisor, Dr. G.M. Machwart, who taught me lessons that stayed with me my entire career.”

The Guzdials were inspired in their gift by William Bernard and family and their role in adding the Bernard Family Clock Tower to the west end of campus in 2018.

“We were going to contribute to that project, but it was already taken care of,” said Jan. “This bench was an opportunity to further add to campus. Universities need these extra things to enrich campus life.”

The bench was dedicated July 26 at a small ceremony with the Guzdials and their friends in attendance.

“I look forward to seeing the photos of students sitting on this bench, hugging the Husky, and having a good time.”

By Advancement and Alumni Engagement.

Tinuade Folayan is NOBCChE Award Recipient

Tinuade Folayan, PhD student in the Department of Chemical Engineering, is the recipient of the 2021 NOBCChE Green Chemistry and STEM Education Division Oral Presentation Award. This award is based on her contribution to scientific research, and the quality and clarity of her talk presented at the 2021 NOBCChE conference in September.

NOBCChE, the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, is a nonprofit professional organization dedicated to assisting Black and other minority students and professionals in fully realizing their potential in academic, professional and entrepreneurial pursuits in chemistry, chemical engineering and allied fields.

Seth A. Kriz Presents Poster at 2021 Alumni Reunion

The Michigan Tech Graduate Student Government (GSG) organized a poster presentation at the 2021 Alumni Reunion in the Rozsa Center on August 6. Presentations are also posted virtually. Among the presenters was Seth A. Kriz, a PhD Student in Chemical Engineering.

Seth A. Kriz
Seth A. Kriz

Seth A. Kriz

Area of Focus

Bioseparations, Vaccine Manufacturing


Purifying viral vaccines by two-phase aqueous extraction

Project Summary

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates as many as 650,000 people die annually from the seasonal influenza virus. Viral vaccines are an effective tool to combat this enormous problem, but current manufacturing purification methods suffer from high costs and yields of less than 30%. A switch from batch to fully continuous processing, which is acknowledged by the FDA to increase capacity and product consistency, is necessary to meet demand. Aqueous two-phase systems (ATPS) constructed of inexpensive, environmentally-friendly polymers and salts are an ideal method to replace traditional chromatography steps that rely on costly resins and operate discontinuously. Previously, we achieved over 80% recovery of two model viral products in the polymer phase of ATPS with high host cell protein and DNA removal. However, the purified viral product is too viscous for further polishing by traditional filtration methods. Thus, a polymer removal step is required. Here we developed a second stage of ATPS to back-extract the virus from the polymer-rich primary product into a gentle salt solution ready for polishing. Preliminary results demonstrate that back-extraction completes a fully continuous viral particle extraction process using ATPS.

Play Purifying viral vaccines by two-phase aqueous extraction – Seth Kirz video
Preview image for Purifying viral vaccines by two-phase aqueous extraction - Seth Kirz video

Purifying viral vaccines by two-phase aqueous extraction – Seth Kirz