Arvind Varma

R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor
Head, School of Chemical Engineering

September 2014

The Fall 2014 semester began with the same high level of excitement, energy, and anticipation as always. This fall, our School is home for 555 undergraduate students, 139 graduate students (essentially all PhD, including 6 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows), and 30 faculty members (including 6 members of the National Academy of Engineering.)

Looking back over the past year, we have good reasons to be proud of our faculty accomplishments. Fabio Ribeiro, the R. Norris and Eleanor Shreve Professor, was elected a Fellow of AIChE; Professor Elias Franses published a new textbook “Thermodynamics with Chemical Engineering Applications"; R. Byron Pipes, John Leighton Bray Distinguished Professor, published the fourth edition of his book “Experimental Characterization of Advanced Composite Materials"; Drs Carl Laird and Zoltan Nagy were invited to attend the 2014 Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium; Dr. Raj Gounder received the Ralph E. Powe research award; and yours truly received the 2013 AIChE Warren K. Lewis award. On the local front, John Morgan and You-Yeon Won were promoted to Professor rank while Julie Liu was promoted to Associate Professor rank with tenure.

Our students also had an amazing year. For the fourth year in a row, students from the School of Chemical Engineering were part of the winning team in the annual Student Soybean Product Innovation Contest sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Graduate student Nicole Devlin, and then senior Yanssen Tandy (who graduated with a BSChE degree in May 2014) were part of the three person team which won the top honors and took home a $20,000 prize. Austin Tackaberry, a senior, serves as Chair of the national AIChE Executive Student Committee for the 2014-15 term; he is also the recipient of the 2014 John J. McKetta Undergraduate Scholarship Award, AIChE’s largest national financial undergraduate award.  Haefa Mansour, current senior, has garnered numerous recognitions, including a prestigious Barry Goldwater scholarship.

It is great to enjoy current results, but sustainable accomplishments can only be achieved with strategic foresight. Our School is now formulating the 2015-19 strategic plan, in an effort to build on the success of the current strategic plan and also to implement the College of Engineering strategic growth initiative which calls for adding 107 more faculty members, 88 TAs and 105 staff members over a course of the next four years. To host such growth, we need top quality facilities. We are in the fortunate position of having sufficient space in Forney Hall and were thrilled to receive a $6.02 million allocation from the State of Indiana and Purdue to renovate the East Wing of Forney Hall, the last part of the building that had not yet been renovated. Work is scheduled to begin in summer 2015 and complete in fall 2016. At the completion of this project, we will have state-of-the-art facilities throughout Forney Hall (total space 177,000 square foot), including the new wing that was built in 2004, enabling us to educate the next generation of ChE leaders and conduct field-defining research with wide impact.

We are enjoying productive, exciting times and invite you to stop by for a visit to witness our progress.

Arvind Varma
R. Games Slayter Distinguished Professor
Jay and Cynthia Ihlenfeld Head of Chemical Engineering