NJIT’s chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) won the Outstanding Chapter Award for the third consecutive year.
AIChE defines itself as “a professional organization for Chemical Engineers with more than 6000 members from more than 110 countries” and provides members with the opportunity to “connect with a global network of intelligent, resourceful colleagues,” “find learning opportunities from recognized authorities” and “access information on recognized and promising chemical engineering processes and methods.”
Each year AIChE awards Outstanding Chapter based on what the chapter is doing for its members, such as networking opportunities or community support; involvement in the national organization, including national competitions and events; and the chapter’s impact on the community.
NJIT’s AIChE chapter excels in all areas, but their community outreach and service projects are part of what really makes them stand out. The K-12 outreach program is led by a committee within AIChE and works to expose young minds to the joy of science and engineering in an engaging and fun way. NJIT students visit local schools to teach kids about the wonders of chemistry through fun experiments and games. Typical classroom settings may not be best suited for all students, especially younger kids, but seeing science in action helps connect young students to STEM more efficiently. For older students, AIChE members speak at schools and explain what engineering is all about, help students find their passion for STEM and if students are interested in pursuing a STEM career, AIChE is there to help guide them.
For its members at NJIT, Olamide Omisakin, AIChE president and third year chemical engineering major, explained how many networking opportunities AIChE provides career planning advice, guidance through difficult courses and “overwhelming support” as students find their way. Weekly meetings are held, where a new guest, whether an industry speaker, accomplished professor or experienced alumni, shares his or her experiences, knowledge and advice on navigating through different career paths, or even presents current research to inspire students.
However, Omisakin said AIChE represents so much more. “Here at NJIT, AIChE is a family,” she expresses. “It is a safe but fun place for students to come learn and get to know other students in the same major.” She expressed that it’s a great way to network and explore career opportunities, but it’s also a way to connect with others, particularly those with a similar career path and passion. Omisakin shared that she feels she “found a group of friends I can always count on, and get through this together.”
And she isn’t alone. “I think AIChE really gives me a place to talk about chemical engineering with my friends, and I feel really welcome with a lot of like-minded people” says sophomore member Reyden Davies, second year chemical enineering student said. Andrew McBride, also a second year chemical engineering major, said he agrees: “I’ve found a place I can relate to.”
This award isn’t NJIT AIChE’s only accomplishment these past few years. AIChE hosts an annual national conference where schools all over the country bring teams to compete in ChemE Car, ChemE Sports and ChemE Jeopardy. “These events test students on their knowledge beyond what they learn from the classroom,” Omisakin explains. Students are challenged to create, design and troubleshoot, and are provided with experience unmatched outside of an internship or job.
Their first time competing, NJIT’s ChemE Sports team placed second in the country last year. This year, team members say they are “going for gold.” The ChemE car team just placed third in regionals this year and is well prepared for this year’s nationals, which are quickly approaching on Nov. 15th.
Following the recent award, NJIT is slated to host the 2022 regional AIChE conference. This will bring hundreds of students from numerous universities to our campus and reflect very well on NJIT.
NJIT AIChE won this award before the pandemic struck, but they haven’t let recent events slow them down. Meetings are still held weekly, where industry speakers and experienced alumni share their experiences and advice or offer networking opportunities. These meetings are now online, but the presentations are the same. In fact, speakers are less limited by travel, and NJIT has certainly taken advantage of this unique opportunity: one of the featured guests for example was a Stanford Medical School student, who shared her experience and how to take a chemical engineering degree into the medical field.
Between the Outstanding Chapter award, as well as the tremendous success at regionals and all the hard work spent preparing for upcoming nationals, Omisakin says she “couldn’t be any more proud of all NJIT AIChE’s members.”