John Chen, the Carl R. Anderson Professor of chemical engineering and former dean of the P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science at Lehigh, has been elected president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). He will serve as president-elect in 2005 and as president in 2006.
AIChE, the premiere professional society for chemical engineers worldwide, has 40,000 members, 15 technical divisions, 107 professional sections, and numerous student chapters, including an active chapter at Lehigh.
The organization, with an annual budget of around $15 million and a full-time staff of 40, holds two large national and international conferences each year, along with a number of topical meetings. AIChE also sets the standards for the formal accreditation of chemical engineering curricula at U.S. universities.
Chen said he will seek during his term as president to:
• Strengthen AIChE’s international reputation as the principal “forum for the frontiers of chemical engineering research.”
• Promote the transfer of new technologies from academia to industry and involve more members of industry in its meetings and symposia.
• Help chemical engineers adapt to the changes in engineering careers that have been brought about by the explosion of information technology and globalization of industry.
• Enhance the institute’s ability to promote research and technology transfer in emerging fields.
Chen said the vast scope of the chemical engineering profession poses a challenge to a professional society like AIChE.
“Chemical engineers are the only engineers who are trained to think at the microscale of molecules and also at the system scale of an entire chemical plant,” says Chen. “We play a major role not only in the legacy industries, such as energy, petrochemicals and polymers, but also in emerging fields such as bioengineering, nanotechnology, advanced materials, and advanced pharmaceuticals and medicine.
“For a professional society, this range of interests can be a real challenge. Our members work across a very diverse array of fields, so our organization must strive to maintain a sense of professional identity and to promote networking opportunities for members.”
A graduate of the Cooper Union, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Michigan, Chen joined the Lehigh faculty in 1970 after a decade in industry and national laboratories. In addition to serving as engineering dean, Chen has served as chairman of the chemical engineering department and as a professor in Lehigh’s department of mechanical engineering and mechanics. He is a fellow of AIChE, a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a member of the American Chemical Society, and a member of the American Association for Advancement of Science.
In his research, Chen studies transport phenomena in multi-phase systems, an area affecting industries ranging from power production to petroleum refining to polymer processing.
He has published more than 200 technical articles, including one from 1966, “Correlation for Boiling Heat Transfer to Saturated Fluids in Convective Flow,” which last year received the Classic Paper Award from the ASME.
Chen has also won 16 other major national or international awards, including the Max Jakob Memorial Award, which is the top international prize for achievements in the science and technology of heat transfer.