Thinking of attending the 2015 National AiChe (American Insitute of Chemical Engineers) Student Conference this November? Get ready by reading the reflections of last year’s conference from students Benjamin Butryn, Eric Mietz and Phil Wood.
We attended the 2014 National AiChe (American Institutes of Chemical Engineers) Student Conference in Atlanta, Georgia at the Marriott Hotel. The conference was a gathering of 1,800 Chemical Engineer undergraduate students, hosted by the Georgia Tech, with many events such as the career fair being held on their campus. Because there were so many events and competitions, we separated to see and experience as much as possible at the conference and around Atlanta.
Eleven undergrads and one graduate student took a plane at 7 pm on November 14, 2014 and arrived in Atlanta around midnight. We started this weekend with the unfortunate purchase of a single MARTA card with 24 trips on it without realizing each person needed to have their own card. When we got to the hotel we had to figure out where we were sleeping for the night, as we did not have rooms booked for the night of our arrival. Our solution was to cram all twelve students into a single room at the Marriot, that eventually forced half of us to sleep on the floor. It was truly a cold night, with pillows and blankets in short supply!
The keynote speaker at the conference was the CEO Coca-Cola Enterprises, which is the bottling company for Coca-Cola. He talked about how he got to the position he is today by starting as a chemical engineer and always accepting new opportunities.
There were many career workshops taking place throughout the day of the conference. We split up into separate groups to hear as many talks as possible and then explain the workshops later to each other. These workshops included nuclear energy, fluidization, becoming a manager, the smart grid, and several others. In general, the presenters were professional and knowledgeable, but because they were under such a strict time constraint the presentations tended to not live up to their full potential. The best part was the Q&A portion of each presentation, because the presenters were very fluent in their responses.
The ChemE Jeopardy and Chem-E-Car competitions both took place at the conference as well. Both competitions offered undergraduates a chance to experiment with chemical engineering practices and compete at a national level with other undergraduates in their discipline. We did not participate in either competition because this was our first time at the national conference, and we did not attend and participate in these competitions at the regional level, which was a prerequisite.
The career fair was attended by fifty-nine graduate programs and eight companies. The two major companies were Exxon and DuPont. Both companies had lines of students going out the doors to talk to their representatives. The graduate schools offered a variety of programs and their representatives offered plenty of great advice for undergraduates considering graduate school. For an undergraduate considering graduate school, the career fair was probably an incredible opportunity. For an undergraduate looking for an internship or permanent job, such as us, the career fair was lacking in opportunities.
The city of Atlanta offered many exciting sights and experiences. Although we were unable to go to all the places we wanted, such as the aquarium and the Coca-Cola headquarters, we were able to explore and discover a large Ferris wheel that overlooked much of the city, and walk through the Olympic park which happened to also be close by.
In order to obtain the best possible experience out of the conference, know that most of the events are intended to inform students about future careers or further education beyond graduation. In the future we should participate in the student competitions like the student Jeopardy or Chem-E Car events.