CHEMS Students Receive Top Honors in AIChE National Design Competition

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November 8, 2010

Three chemical engineering and materials science students from MSU’s College of Engineering took top honors in the national student design competition sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

Philip Lehman, a senior in chemical engineering, took first prize in the individual competition. Christopher Gelinas and David Hasselbeck, both of whom graduated with BS degrees in chemical engineering in May 2010, won first prize in the team competition.

MSU’s Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science has the best record in the nation for placing in this national contest since 1967. However, it is a first for MSU to take top honors in the same year in both the team and individual competitions.

The problem statement from AIChE dealt with designing a large-scale manufacturing facility that had the flexibility to produce a variety of monoclonal antibody products, which are being used to treat illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, transplant rejection, and cancers. The final design included an economic analysis showing the profitability of the venture.

The final projects that the students entered in the AIChE competition were originally assigned as projects in an MSU spring semester course in process design and optimization and were first presented at MSU’s Design Day in April.

“We have used the AIChE student contest problem for many years because they are well-rounded problems, and they tell students and faculty something about the kind of abilities that industrial companies would like graduating chemical engineers to have and, of course, there are advantages to seeing how well we compare with graduates of other universities in a national competition,” says Martin Hawley, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. “Winning these top awards this year is a great accomplishment and reward for the three students’ hard work and creativity. “

The three winners traveled to the 2010 annual AIChE meeting, held in Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 7-12, to receive their awards and present their projects.