Auburn to host American Institute of Chemical Engineers Southern Regional Conference March 15-16

Published: Feb 19, 2024 9:00 AM

By Joe McAdory

Dozens of chemical engineering students from roughly 30 universities will descend on Auburn University March 15-16 to showcase their research prowess through poster presentations, engage in unique workshops, compete in a variety of contests – including the exciting Chem-E Car Competition and Chemical Engineering Jeopardy – tour nearby industrial complexes and explore campus.

The 2024 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Southern Regional Conference brings together like-minded undergraduate students to learn from one another, put their skills to the test, and develop new ones.

“This event will bring together the next generation of our profession, our students, in the region to learn from each other and build connections,” said Department of Chemical Engineering Department Chair Selen Cremaschi. “As department chair, I am proud to support our students as they take the lead and demonstrate excellence in organizing this conference that includes activities such as Chemical Engineering Jeopardy, Chem-E Car, and student research poster and technical paper competitions.”

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Auburn's Chem-E car team celebrates winning first place at last November's AIChE national conference in Orlando, Florida.

Ishan Patel, AIChE Auburn Chapter president, said Auburn is an ideal host university for multiple reasons.

“First, Auburn is known as ‘The Loveliest Village on The Plains,’ which captures its charm,” he said. “Also, we've had a go at hosting these regional conferences before. We were all set for spring 2020, but then COVID had other plans. Luckily, we learned a lot from that experience, and we’ve used those insights to make this year’s conference even better. It's a fantastic opportunity for other schools to visit our campus and get a real feel for how enthusiastic and driven our students are – that's the Auburn spirit for you.

“I'm thankful that our department is on board with us hosting the AIChE regional conference. It's the perfect chance to showcase the incredible work and talent in our department. Our graduate students are especially excited to present their research and projects, giving everyone a glimpse into the amazing things happening on our campus.”

AIChE, a national organization since 1908, features more than 60,000 members from more than 110 countries, provides members with industry-networking opportunities, resume-building, co-ops, full-time employment and exposure to diverse areas of interest in the field. Its annual national convention will be October 27-31 in San Diego.

“This is an opportunity to showcase some of the exciting things that are happening at Auburn — in engineering and at the university as a whole,” said Bill Josephson, senior lecturer in chemical engineering and Auburn AIChE student chapter faculty advisor. “It’s a feather in our cap. We look forward to showing off the Rane Culinary Science Center, the Brown-Kopel Student Center and the Makerspace (Design and Innovation Center), which is creating trophies for select events.”

The Southern Regional kicks off on Friday, March 15, when groups tour International Paper in Prattville — the largest paper mill in Alabama — and Imerys, a calcium carbonate plant near Sylacauga, Alabama.

At the Rane Culinary Science Center, students will put their science skills to the test by utilizing a variety of baking sodas/powders to bake cookies. Auburn Engineering’s Design of Coffee class, or CHEN 1000 (Concepts of Chemical Engineering), will also be on display as students have the opportunity to mimic what is taught in class by applying the concepts to processes for roasting and brewing coffee.

Chemical Engineering Jeopardy is much like the popular television game show with responses given in the form of questions, Daily Doubles, Double Jeopardy and buzzers for teams to offer responses. Top qualifiers from the regional will advance to the AIChE national convention competition. Auburn’s Chemical Jeopardy team reached the final round — for a third-consecutive year — at the AIChE national convention last fall in Orlando, Florida. Competition inside the Brown-Kopel Student Center will begin with preliminaries that Friday, culminating with the finals on Saturday.

Auburn University’s Chem-E car won the AIChE national championship last fall but needs success in the regional to defend its title. In this competition, the closest car to the predetermined area wins. Cars are kick-started by lead-powered batteries but use a variety of methods to slow to a stop. The Chem-E car competition will be Saturday, March 16, in the Auburn Junior High School gymnasium.

Why should chemical engineering students get involved in AIChE? Multiple reasons, Jessica Brouillette, a senior and Auburn AIChE chapter vice president for internal affairs, pointed out.

“You’re always in the classroom learning topics and technically how things work, but you don’t always get to apply what you’ve learned,” she said. “AIChE is an opportunity for students to show what they’ve learned throughout their college experience. Take the Chem-E Car team, for example. You need to know how different chemical reactions work. With technical presentations, you’re able to display the research you’ve been doing. In AIChE, we can relate to one another — we’re all chemical engineers taking the same kinds of classes.”

For more information about Auburn University’s AIChE student chapter, visit:

Media Contact: Joe McAdory,, 334.844.3447
Auburn AIChE officers, from left to right, Sam Sessions, Tyler Lunsford, Della Kelly, Minjae Jung, McKinley Reese, Jessica Brouillette, Tyra Babbs, Jerin Thomas, Benjamin Gunasekaran, Harrison Edwards and Ishan Patel.

Auburn AIChE officers, from left to right, Sam Sessions, Tyler Lunsford, Della Kelly, Minjae Jung, McKinley Reese, Jessica Brouillette, Tyra Babbs, Jerin Thomas, Benjamin Gunasekaran, Harrison Edwards and Ishan Patel.

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