Pictured from left to right are: Justin Richardson, Ryan Holman, Alexander Osterbaan, Alyssa VanZanten, Marcus Brinks, Sean Gitter, Owen Donahoe and Brian Simonich.

For the second consecutive year, a Hope College student won a first place award at the Annual Meeting and National Student Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). A total of seven Hope College students who participated in research this past summer had their work selected for presentation during the conference, and an eighth student attended as a co-author of one presentation.

The seven presentations represented nearly half of the 16 undergraduate research presentations from colleges and universities in Michigan, with more posters presented by Hope students than by students from any other Michigan institution.  In the past nine years, a total of 56 Hope students have participated in the undergraduate research session of this national conference, a number exceeded by only seven other colleges or universities nationally.

Senior Sean Gitter of Shelby Township won first place in the “Catalysis and Reaction Engineering 4” category.  At least one student who participated in Hope’s summer research program has received an award in this national competition in eight of the last 10 years.

The National Student Conference ran Friday-Monday, Oct. 27-30, and the Annual Meeting ran Sunday-Friday, Oct. 29-Nov. 3, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The undergraduate poster session took place on Monday, Oct. 30, and featured work grouped within a variety of categories within the field of chemical engineering.

The preliminary program for the student poster session listed 327 posters.  The primary presenters represented institutions in 40 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and 10 other countries.  Of the 120 colleges, universities and laboratories listed as affiliation of the primary presenter, only five institutions had more posters listed in the event than Hope College.

All of the participating Hope students are engineering majors or intend to declare an engineering major in either the chemical engineering emphasis option or the biochemical engineering emphasis option.  Some also have a second major in chemistry.  Mentors for the projects included Hope faculty in engineering, chemistry, and the geological and environmental sciences.

In addition to Gitter, the students attending the conference to present their posters were sophomore Marcus Brinks of Holland; sophomore Owen Donahoe of Milford, Indiana; junior Ryan Holman of Holland; junior Alexander Osterbaan of Ada; senior Justin Richardson of Galesburg; and junior Brian Simonich of Highland. Sophomore Alyssa VanZanten of Rockford also attended as a co-author of one poster along with Simonich; however, the rules of the poster competition only permit one student presenter per poster.

Gitter won his award for the presentation “Longer Wavelength Azo Dyes for Incorporation in Photomechanical Polymer Networks,” which he co-authored with former student Connor Kuhlmann; junior Emily Hofmeyer of Holland; junior Brandon Derstine of Beaverton; Dr. Matthew Smith, assistant professor of engineering; and Dr. Jason Gillmore, professor of chemistry.

Brinks’ presentation, “Development of Model Elastomeric Photomechanical Systems and Their Characterization,” was co-authored with sophomore Britta Johnson of Chesterton, Indiana, and Dr. Matthew L. Smith, assistant professor of engineering.  It appeared in the “Materials Engineering and Sciences 2” category.

Donahoe’s presentation, “Global Survey of Suspended Load Mineralogy and Heavy Metal Content in Rural Drinking Water Sources Using Point-of-Use Water Filter Kits,” was co-authored with sophomore Jonas M. Peterson of Holland; junior Cleveland E. Tarp of Northville; Sarah A. Brokus, who is the college’s Day 1 Watershed chemistry laboratory director; Randall D. Wade, who is a Day 1 Watershed research associate at the college; Dr. Michael J. Pikaart, associate professor of chemistry; Dr. Aaron Best, who is the Harrison C. and Mary L. Visscher Professor of Genetics; and Dr. Jonathan W. Peterson, professor of geological and environmental sciences.  It appeared in the “Environmental Science and Engineering 2” category.

Holman’s presentation, “Empirical Vapor Pressure Prediction from Cubic Equations of State Using Similarity Variables,” was co-authored with Dr. Michael Misovich, associate professor of engineering.  It appeared in the “General Engineering and Engineering Education” category.

Osterbaan’s presentation, “Raman Spectroscopy for Undergraduate Laboratories,” was co-authored with Dr. Justin Shorb, assistant professor of chemistry.  It also appeared in the “General Engineering and Engineering Education” category.

Richardson’s presentation, “Taylor Series for Peng-Robinson Equilibrium Properties Using Similarity Variables,” was also co-authored with Misovich, and appeared in the “Computing, Simulation, and Process Control” category.

Simonich’s presentation, “Investigating the Kinetics of Polymerization Required for Bulk-Mediated Alignment of Liquid Crystal Elastomers,” was co-authored with VanZanten and Smith, and appeared in the “Catalysis and Reaction Engineering 2” category.

AIChE is the world's leading organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 50,000 members from more than 100 countries.  

Information on the AIChE annual meeting and on the AIChE annual student conference is available through the attached links.