Another exciting year at AIChE DVS

Although a little belated, I want to welcome you to another exciting year at AIChE DVS and to thank you for your support and participation in our section. I hope that this year we can capitalize the momentum we have generated among our members and student chapters into more active involvement in order to advance our profession further in the region. Many colleagues ask me why I spend so much time involved with AIChE. For me, the Delaware Valley has a historic chemical heritage that today is reflected by the number of companies that employ chemical engineers and institutions that derived from it. If we want to maintain the tradition, then the only way is to help us becoming better engineers and grow new engineers so that employers and potential employers do not have any doubts about starting or continuing their businesses in the area. Do not leave anything to chance; we can engineer a better place to live and work here in the Delaware Valley. As chair, I am working on coordinating our members that have this same vision and work diligently to achieve this goal. I exhort you to participate as your valuable time allows.

This year will be a historic year. We will be merging with the Wilmington Section. We are certain that this merger will make the section stronger. Our program will now include more events, which will take place in Delaware or close to the state lines. The merger is a process that requires approvals at organizational and operational levels. I do not foresee any impact for our DVS membership but for the WS membership some small changes will be gradually occurring until the transition is finalized.   

We have lined up several events for our diverse and ever changing membership. We have had already our first industrial tour at NextFab, a 3-D manufacturer and our 8th Annual Social Event at Yards Brewery, which was co-sponsored by ISPE-DVC.

Our next big event will be the Executive Lecture Series (aka CEO Lecture) at the Union League on March, 17, 2015. We are very excited to have as our keynote speaker Dr. Pierre Brondeau, CEO and Chairman of the Board of FMC, which is moving a lot of its business units headquarters to Philadelphia. 

A Professional Development Session on vacuum pump design considerations for condensables gases was given by Dr. Sang Hyun Park from Busch Pumps. We have 8 more technical talks planned for this fiscal year and more plant tours are also on the line up.

Our chemical engineering students are not forgotten. We are really focusing into involving them earlier so we can help them but at the same time guide them so they can become the next generation of leaders of our section and workplaces. Last year, we invited all upcoming leaderships of the student chapters to our Student Award Banquet. They connected very well to the point that they are forming a coalition organizing joint events. We have planned the next student awards dinner at Villanova University in April 2015, where we give the Zeisberg Award, one of the oldest student awards for technical writing. On that night we are now recognizing as well outstanding alumni and faculty. We are also trying to develop a design contest that multi-university student teams can work on the cloud.  We are also looking to reach out more K-12 students but also their teachers.

We are also taking a more active role with National and the Local Section Committee by looking for support and at the same time helping developing metrics to measure the health of a local section. 

Since chemical engineers work with other engineers, we are participating more actively with the Engineer’s Club of Philadelphia, International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers, Chemical Consultants Network, International Society of Automation and other professional societies. 

The section is thriving and we want to keep the momentum. I encourage you to get involved! There is a lot you can do without even attending one of our meetings. For instance, you could invite someone to join us or you can mentor a young engineer or a student or if you have a good idea on how to improve the section contact me and I will make sure we can make it happen.


Daniel Sujo, Chair 2014-2015


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.