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Dr. Dan Hickman presents at the 10th annual Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association symposium.
Dr. Dan Hickman presents at the 10th annual Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association symposium. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering/Jesus A. Reina

Graduate students in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University received the opportunity to connect with industry representatives and showcase their research at the Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Association’s (ChEGSA) 10th annual research symposium, held on March 6 at the Memorial Student Center.

“This event caters to graduate students in the department and allows them to present their research in front of professors with the added benefit of showcasing their research in front of industrial visitors," said Anubhav Sarmah, doctoral student and ChEGSA organizing committee president.

Over 100 students participated in the event, which included research poster sessions, oral presentations, panel discussions, specific networking opportunities and keynote speakers.

The first keynote speaker was Dr. Shyamal Bej, senior principal science expert in the process development group at Shell, who supports several projects related to low-carbon renewable fuels, waste plastic to chemicals and carbon dioxide abatement. For over 32 years, he has been involved in the fundamentals of catalysis, reaction engineering, and catalyst and process development.

"Dr. Bej discussed how we can move towards a greener transport sector," Sarmah said. "He talked about the coming up of electric vehicles and how we can transition from what we call fossil or conventional fuels to greener alternatives."

Dr. Dan Hickman is a senior research and development fellow in Dow's engineering and process science department and a technical leader in reaction engineering and process development for numerous reaction systems across many Dow businesses and technologies. He served as the second keynote speaker for the event.

"Dr. Hickman focused on how certain numerical or statistical analyses are very important in research to get repeatable results," Sarmah said. "This is important for grad students who will soon be joining a company or a bigger lab because what we do here is on a small scale, but when we do stuff on a big scale, a simple mistake can lead to disasters or losses for the company.”

The panel discussions addressed solutions to current challenges facing the chemical engineering industry and highlighted career options for students upon graduation.

The goal of the ChEGSA is to foster a sense of community for current and former graduate students as well as help their professional development and give students an active voice.

"It’s important for students to get out of their labs and see what their peers are doing," Sarmah said. "These companies are actively looking for students with expertise, so it's a good opportunity for them to network with industry representatives, showcase their skills and set up conversations that could lead to a prospective future opportunity."