ADRIAN, MI – Wacker Chemical Corp., the U.S.-based Wacker Chemie AG subsidiary, has joined with other industry members in partnership with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). The partnership supports the organization’s mission to promote the advancement of the chemical engineering profession at the collegiate level through the AIChE’s Undergraduate Process Safety Learning Initiative, a part of the AIChE Foundation’s Doing a World of Good campaign.
According to David Wilhoit, Wacker Chemical Corp. President & CEO, the AIChE Undergraduate Process Safety Learning Initiative focuses on industry working together with colleges and universities to transform chemical engineering education. “The AIChE reports that 72% of chemical engineering graduates entering the workforce have limited process safety education,” Wilhoit said. “This global effort is aimed at defining how the next generation of chemical engineers is prepared to enter the workforce and is a main component of the Doing a World of Good campaign.”
Wilhoit described the Undergraduate Process Safety Learning Initiative has having three major components: modernizing and developing curriculum, educating faculty and engaging in educating students. All three components involve the collaboration of the chemical engineering community, industry and academia. He said bringing these groups and collective resources together in a unified approach will create the best opportunity to provide chemical engineering graduates a working knowledge of process safety.
“WACKER is pledging resources to support this initiative with a five-year partnership commitment. We will begin the process of facilitating educating college and university faculty members about process safety mid-year 2017 and have identified our Charleston, Tennessee, plant as the starting point,” said Mary Beth Hudson, WACKER Vice President and Charleston Site Manager. “There are a considerable number of colleges and universities within reasonable proximity of our plant which have chemical engineering programs. As part of our partnership commitment, WACKER will be hosting faculty members from these area institutions in bringing forward a sustainable business and academic case for including process safety education at the college level.”
Hudson said WACKER is optimistic about this progressive initiative sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, emphasizing further that the company is looking forward with great anticipation to fully realize the company’s partnership involvement.
In announcing the partnership with WACKER, AIChE Executive Director June Wispelwey thanked WACKER for its commitment to promoting chemical process safety in industry. She noted that while industry has made progress in safety, company leaders say that engineers coming out of college need to be better trained in process safety when they enter the workforce. Additionally, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology recently enacted standards that require process safety to be part of the chemical engineering curriculum. Universities, however, have not yet developed a standardized curriculum to fulfill this new requirement. “That needed training is why AIChE, its participating companies, and the CCPS collaborated on this initiative and made it part of the Doing a World of Good campaign,” Wispelwey concluded.