Once upon time in Orlando, Florida, a group of chemical engineers congregated to spread knowledge, socialize, and celebrate the joy that is being a chemical engineer. It’s a magical experience that this year, fittingly, took place next to the Magic Kingdom.
All joking aside, the conference was tons of fun. This was my first time attending the national AIChE Student Conference, so I’m grateful to have been able to travel across the country for the event. This is an annual event hosted by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for students, professors, and professionals to gather and attend talks, present research, participate in various competitions, and more.
The Student Conference was 3 days long. There were plenty of different workshops and sessions for students to attend, including seminars on process engineering, chemical engineers in pharma, and even nuclear energy! The internship and grad school fairs also gave attendees the opportunity to speak with various recruiters. While I’ve already committed to an internship for next summer, I took advantage of the grad school fair to speak to admissions staff and professors from top chemical engineering programs across the nation, which was a great networking opportunity.
My main reasons for attending the conference were twofold. First, I had the opportunity to present research during the student poster competition. On campus, I’m involved in a research lab. The project I’m working on involves using computational chemistry and simulations of quantum mechanics to study the catalytic conversion of methane to methanol. We’re studying the properties of various systems to determine if we can understand the principles governing their catalytic behavior, and predict new catalysts as well. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to participate in the poster session, presenting this work to various professors and students.
Additionally, I attended the conference to participate in the national AIChE Jeopardy competition. Every year, teams compete in the various regional AIChE conferences, answering questions about chemical engineering principles and practice, science fields, and random trivia; the top teams in each region make it on to nationals. I’m on USC’s jeopardy team, and this spring, we placed first in the Western Region, beating other schools such as UCLA and Berkeley. In Orlando, I got to play with my teammates in the national competition! After placing first in our division in the preliminary and semi-final rounds, we found ourselves in the finals against MIT and University of Iowa. After a close game, we ended up beating both schools, and won first place in the nation! This was the first time USC has ever won, so it was a great experience to be a part of this!
All in all, the conference was tons of fun. It was a great bonding experience between all of us who attended, and I look forward to next year’s conference and jeopardy competition – San Francisco, here we come!