August 2017

Hello colleagues! I hope you had a great summer and are looking forward to a good end to 2017 and great start to 2018. I will be Chair of the Delaware Valley Section for the 2017-2018 year and we have a lot of great stuff planned. For those that are not very familiar with the section or those looking for some reminders, please read on below. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at

First up, I have to recognize our wonderful board and other helpful volunteers. Everyone involved with our section is active, helpful, and friendly to all so please reach out to any of us if needed. Our board meets monthly, typically the first Wednesday of the month, at Villanova. All section members are welcome to attend if you are interested in getting involved so please show up, have a bite to eat with us, and share your ideas. There are also a number of committees in the section that help make everything happen, including student outreach, programming, continuing education, and others. These committees typically work on their respective projects over email and phone calls and any section members are welcome to be a part of the committee.

We have some special events in the works for the year. First up is a Career Forum event on September 6th in Conshohocken, which will be a great event for those nearing graduation, young professionals, and those interested in general networking. On September 28th, join us for our annual Oktoberfest at Yards Brewery in Philadelphia. This has been an excellent event in the past and is sure to be fun again this year so be sure to not miss the last year in the old Yards Brewery before they move into their new, larger brewery (still in Philadelphia). We will also be having an event at the new FMC tower and our annual CEO Lecture at the Union League so stay tuned for updates on those events. And there will also be other fun events like plant tours, student outreach events, and events with other local societies.

I also wanted to mention our continuing education events. The sessions include dinner and a one hour talk on a relevant technical topic. The sessions each qualify for one professional development credit hour. We offer sessions in Conshohocken, PA and Newark, DE, typically one each month at each location. The sessions are also available online. If you see a topic of interest, I highly recommend you check it out as not only will you learn from the talk, but the instructor will be happy to answer questions, and other participants will offer interesting perspectives.

It’s sure to be a great year and I hope we can get even more of the best and brightest engineers of all ages in our area out to more of our events. Please check back to our website and subscribe to our email list to stay up to date with all of the happenings. I hope to see you at an event this year.

Ted Heron,
Chair 2017-2018

Tour at NextFab -3D Manufacturing

NextFab is a 3D printing site located in South Philadelphia that offers a gym for innovation. The company was founded by Dr. Evan Malone, an alumnus of UPenn and Cornell. We had the pleasure to tour the facility last September. 

We were able to see lots and lots of equipment for manufacturing objects of many sizes. Laser engravers and 3-D printers/scanners of diverse technologies are the showcase piece. However, innovation cannot be only done with 3-D printers so there are also wood and metal shops, electronics, computer and wet chemistry laboratories, photography studio and spaces for collaboration.

Chemical engineers can benefit of 3-D printing in two major ways, from my personal point of view. The obvious one is to work on the development and improvement of 3D materials and methods. The other one may sound more futuristic. It is the miniaturization of chemical processes. Smaller control volumes behave closer to ideality if coupled with computational fluid dynamics and control systems. This may yield to process intensification but on the other hand, these designs typically involve intricate geometries which may be cumbersome to manufacture. Advanced manufacturing techniques such as 3-D printing could be a true game changer for the chemical industry. The large capital investment typical of our industry are taken down so many chemical start-ups could thrive. Other benefits could be the reduction of risk by reducing the amounts of dangerous raw materials, more sustainable processes by process intensification but manufacturing can happen closer to the customer, and instead of scaling up we could be numbering up the process. 

NextFab was a great host. We are very thankful for their hospitality. We had a light dinner was served by Breezy’s Cafe a recommendation by NextFab, which tasted very well indeed.

We are hopeful to have an expert in process intensification in our Professional Development Session soon so we can explore more about the future of chemical engineering.