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Oct. 23, 2019

Chemical engineering students bring home national honors

The tradition of Michigan State University’s competitive success at the annual American Institute of Chemical Engineering, or AlChE, Student Design Contest hit a new height this year. 

For the first time, all of MSU’s submitted problem solutions won a national award. AlChE is the global organization for chemical engineers.

R. Mark Worden, professor of chemical engineering and biomedical engineering, said students in the department of chemical engineering and materials science again claimed the top prizes at the national competition that mimics plant-design challenges faced by chemical engineers in industry.

The competition problem in 2019 was to design a biopharmaceutical plant to manufacture recombinant proteins used in a drug to treat advanced macular degeneration.

“Solutions require a range of calculation and evaluation skills of technical data and economic factors,” Worden explained. “The competition accepts both individual solutions and team solutions.” 

The 2019 AlChE student awards ceremony and annual student conference are both part of the 2019 AlChE National Conference, AlChE's largest forum.

AIChE allows for up to four students per team, but MSU only allows two. “That puts MSU team entries at a disadvantage, because our teams compete against other schools’ teams with up to twice as many members,” Worden said. “In spite of that, the Spartan students again came out on top.” 

Mason Sitar and Hailee Perrett both won individual awards.

Sitar took first place and won the A. McLaren White Award for Best Overall Design. Sitar graduated in 2019 with a degree in chemical engineering and is now a process engineer at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis.

Hailee Perrett won second prize for the A.E. Marshall Award for Best Overall Design. Perrett graduated with a degree in chemical engineering in 2019 and is currently a graduate student researcher at the Scripps Research Institute in the San Diego area.

Aleksandra Salic, Grace Jansen, Mark Elinski and Kip Mitchell were all awarded in the team competition. 

Aleksandra Salic and Grace Jansen won first place for the William Cunningham Award for Best Overall Design. Salic and Jansen are both seniors in chemical engineering.

Mark Elinski and Kip Mitchell won the Ted Ventrone, Ephraim Scheier and Walt Silowska Awards for Best Applications of Inherently Safer Design. Elinski graduated in 2019 with a degree in chemical engineering and is now a process engineer at Mars in the Chicago area. Mitchell also graduated in 2019 with a degree in chemical engineering.

All six of MSU’s award winners will be recognized at the 2019 AIChE National Conference in Orlando Florida, Nov. 8-11. All students were awarded a $300 cash prize and free registration to the national conference by AIChE, and received a $700 travel allowance from MSU.

First place winners ­— Mason Sitar and the teams of Aleksandra Salic and Grace Jansen, and Mark Elinski and Kip Mitchell — will present their solutions on Nov. 11 during student design competition sessions.

"Winning this competition is among the best professional credentials a graduating senior chemical engineer can have on their resume,” Worden said.

See MSU's legacy of winners since 1967.