Chemical Engineering

National and Regional Awards

2017 Chem-E-Car Team Wins The Most Creative Chem-E-Car Award in Regional Competition

The 2016-2017 Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter participated in the Chem-E-Car competition at the 2017 South Regional Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. The team designed an eco-friendly car using recycled materials for all the car’s chases. It was powered by a 5-stack hydrogen fuel cell which was supplied with hydrogen via a magnesium and hydrochloric acid reaction. The stopping mechanism for the car consisted of an iodine clock reaction. An Arduino board was also programmed to improve the precision of the stopping mechanism. The Chem-E Car team was headed by Javaz Rolle with team members Susieanna Persaud, Martha Linares Perez, Alan Daou, Timofey Braslav and Seth Ricketts. The team was advised by Dr. Jonathan Mbah.

Florida Tech Senior Earns Second Place in Undergraduate Research Poster Competition at AICHE Annual Conference

Rekisha Pootoon ('17) was awarded a 2nd place in the Energy and Sustainability division of the Undergraduate Research Poster Competition at the 2016 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Annual Student Conference, Nov. 11–14, San Francisco, CA. Ms. Pootoon conducted her research at the Florida Institute of Technology Applied Research Laboratory, working on synthesizing new electrode materials for hydrogen production via water splitting. Her goal was to improve the electrodeposition of composite semiconductors to facilitate charge transfer processes in photogenerated electron-hole pairs for efficient water splitting. She fused tungsten oxide (WO3) with zinc telluride (ZnTe) to reliably control the surface characteristics of the thin layered sheet. The desired product WO3:ZnTE could be recognized by characterization methods: cyclic voltammetry (CV) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). She regarded using the lab equipment her favorite part of the program, and envisioned using her experience as a springboard to pursue graduate education. Ms. Pootoon was assisted in her research by graduate student Ms. Chengeto Kazuva; both students were mentored by Prof. Jonathan Mbah.

Florida Tech Senior Earns Second Place in National Student Paper Competition at 2015 AICHE Annual Meeting

Kristin Howe ('16) earned 2nd place in the Catalysis and Reaction Engineering division of the National Student Paper Competition held at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Nov. 8 – 13, Salt Lake City, UT. Kristin presented the outcome of a project she carried out in Summer 2015 at the University of South Carolina, sponsored by the National Science Foundation - Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU) Program. For the needs of that project, she synthesized a variety of nickel-based catalysts and tested them in a reactor with a tri-reforming gas mixture. Tri-reforming is the process by which flue gas from a methane power plant is harvested and run over a catalyst at high temperatures in order to convert methane and carbon dioxide to syngas – a fuel gas mixture consisting primarily of hydrogen and carbon monoxide – thus decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from the plant. Kristin evaluated the conversion of methane and carbon dioxide and the composition of the produced syngas fuel, and characterized the catalysts using X-ray diffraction before and after the reaction.

Florida Tech Junior Wins NSF-funded Program Poster Award

Ryan McLay ('14) won first place in the Research Poster Competition of the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program held at the University of South Carolina in Summer 2012. The national program is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. McLay’s biofuel research project involved implementing advanced quantum-chemical computational methods to investigate the effects of water, butanol, acetonitrile and octane solvents on the selectivity and activity of Palladium catalysts for the hydrodeoxygenation of organic esters. Understanding these effects allows researchers to optimize biomass to lipid conversion techniques by efficiently removing highly corrosive oxygen from the produced bio-oil. 

Farmer Scholar Earns First Place in Student Research Competition with Implantable Biogenerator

Andrew Hernandez ('13), a Farmer scholar and chemical engineering student, won first place in the Engineering Section of the Student Research Competition of the Sustainable Energy Alternatives and Advanced Materials REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Program. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the REU program competition was held at the University of South Florida in Summer 2012. Hernandez’s research involved the design modification and physical testing of an implantable biogenerator. The study addressed the growing need for a method of electrical energy production within the human body to passively support internal implants. Hernandez worked with biogenerators that rely on biological systems, such as the circulatory system, to produce electrical energy within the body.

Florida Tech Student Earns Internship in Germany

Gilbert Castillo ('11), a Florida Tech senior majoring in chemical engineering, was one of the 75 selected from more than 500 applicants to participate in a year-long COngres-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals (CBYX) program. This study and work fellowship entailed a two-month course learning the German language, a four-month study at a German university and a five-month internship with a German company in his career field.

Florida Tech Student is Scholar of the Week on Great Minds Website

Gilbert Castillo ('11) featured as the "Scholar of the Week" on the Great Minds in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STEM) website. Castillo will participate in outreach programs as a role model to elementary, junior and high school students.

Student Receives Scholarship from the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation

GIlbert Castillo ('11) was named a scholarship recipient by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC)-Shaw Industries Group for being academically and profesionnally successful in a STEM-related area.

2009 Chem-E-Car Team Takes Fourth in Regional Competition

The 2008-2009 Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter Chem-E-Car Team placed 4th at the 2009 AIChE Southern Regional Conference competition, securing a place to compete at the National AIChE Student Conference in Nashville, TN, Nov. 6-9, 2009. This year's team is headed by Gilbert Castillo ('11), with team members Thanhhoang Nguyen ('10),  Nicholas Milano ('10), Cody Evan Narciso-Widmer ('11), Sebastian Ross ('11), and Aaron Liebold ('11).  The Chapter Advisor is Dr. Maria Pozo de Fernandez.


Student Earns National Tau Beta Pi Award

Kelly Johansen ('09) was one of only 15 Chemical Engineering students in the US selected for the 2008-2009 Tau Beta Pi Scholarships Award. Tau Beta Pi Scholarships are awarded on the competitive criteria of high scholarship, campus leadership and service, and promise of future contributions to the engineering profession. Tau Beta Pi is the National Engineering Honor Society, founded in 1885, with collegiate chapters at 234 engineering colleges in the United States, and active alumni chapters in 18 cities. It has initiated nearly 500,000 members in its 123-year history and is the world’s largest engineering society. (

Student Earns National AIChE Award

Matthew Herdiech ('08) earned one of just 15 National AIChE Donald F. and Mildred T. Othmer 2007-2008 Scholarship Awards. A second-time winner of the award, Herdiech was recognized at the 2007 AIChE National Student Conference, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Winning students were selected based on academic achievement and involvement in AIChE Student Chapter activities.

2007 Chem-E-Car Team Places Well in National Competition

The 2006-2007 Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter Chem-E-Car team placed 12th out of 31 teams participating in the Chem-E-Car Competition at the 2007 National AIChE Student Conference. This is a significant accomplishment, considering also that the 31 competing teams had earlier eliminated nearly 100 other teams in the regional competitions throughout the US. The team was headed by Matt Herdiech ('08) with team members Charmaine Flemming ('09), Christine Flemming ('09), Kelly Johansen ('09), John MacDonald ('09), Michael Murphy ('09), and  Dave Piryk ('10). The Chapter Advisor is Dr. Maria Pozo de Fernandez.

Student Earns Third in National Research Competition

Alina Higham ('08) won 3rd Place at the National Student Research Poster Competition of the 2007 Annual AIChE Student Conference.  Alina competed against more than 200 students representing AIChE Student Chapters from all over the US.

Student Earns First Place in NSF Research Symposium

Jenny Patterson ('07) Earned First place at a Summer Symposium of the National Science Foundation - Research Experience for Undergraduates. She competed with 23 other students from across the US at her summer-long internship at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Her research focused on the "Characterization of a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell". This placement allowed her to present her research at the National American Institute of Chemical Engineer's Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

2006 Chem-E-Car Team Takes First Place in Regional Competition

The 2005-06 Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter Chem-E-Car team won first place at the 2006 Southern Regional Conference held at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi. This year's team was headed by Matt Herdiech ('08) with team members Charmaine Flemming ('09), Christine Flemming ('09) and Jimit Shah ('09) from the Chemical Engineering Department and Britney Pennington ('08) from the Biology Department. The Chapter Advisor is Dr. Maria Pozo de Fernandez. The team made a trial run of the Chem-E-Car called the "Prowling Panther". Each team from each school was then ranked according to how close thier car came to the 68 ft. line while carrying 250 mL of water. Our team did very well in this portion of the competition. The second run of the car determined the winner. The FL Tech team went only one inch over the finish line! This astounding feat ensured the teams victory over the other 15 teams that competed.


Student Co-Authors Research Article

Jerry Buhrow ('08) co-authored a paper with three Florida Tech Chemisty Department faculty, Professors. M. J. Novak, J. C. Baum and J. A. Olson. The paper was titled “Scanning tunneling microscopy of indolo[2,1-b]quinazolin-6,12-dione (tryptanthrin) on HOPG: Evidence of adsorption-induced stereoisomerization” and was published in the research journal Surface Science in 2006.

Student Takes Second at National Research Conference

Jason Conrad ('05), won 2nd place at the 2004 National INSPIRE Conference in the polymers category of the Poster Competition for his summer REU research at Clemson University. This conference aims to give undergraduate students an opportunity to present their research in the areas of polymers, materials science, and biomaterials.

2003 Chem-E-Car Team Takes Third in National Competition

The Florida Tech Chem-E-Car won third place in the Chem-E-Car competition, which took place at the 2003 Annual AIChE Student National Conference, held in November in San francisco. Chemical Engineering students Scott Gibb ('05)-Captain, Joe Baan ('04), and Jason Conrad ('05) represented Florida Tech at the conference. The team received a trophy and a $500 cash prize.  The Chapter Advisor is Dr. Maria Pozo de Fernandez.

You may view their winning presentation here


Florida Tech AIChE Named Outstanding Student Chapter

The Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter was recognized as the 2002-2003 Outstanding National AIChE Student Chapter at the 2003 AIChE National Student Conference, held in San Fransisco.

2002 Chem-E-Car Team Takes First Place in Regionals

The 2002 AIChE Chem-E-Car Team from Florida Tech won FIRST PLACE at the Southern Regional Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico in a very exciting race, neck-to-neck with the home team. The Chem-E-Car team won $1,000 and a plaque. The students that participated at the competition are: Dustin Phelps ('03), Tara Zwicker ('03), Joe Moate ('03), Randy Coslow ('04), and Jason Conrad ('05). The Chapter Advisor is Dr. Maria Pozo de Fernandez. The Chem-E-Car Team raced their car, "Panther-Projectile" again at the AIChE 2002 National Student Conference at the Indianapolis convention Center, Indianapolis, IN on November 2-4. We should be very proud of the 2002 Chem-E-Car Team for their perseverance, professionalism, and enthusiasm, and for bringing this Award to Florida Tech.

You may view their winning presentation here


Florida Tech AIChE Named Outstanding Student Chapter

The Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter earned an Outstanding Chapter Award at the 2002 Annual AIChE Student Conference. 

Student Wins First Place in National Research Competition 

Dustin Phelps ('03) won FIRST place in the Materials Research Division at the National Student Poster Competition at the 2002 Annual Meeting of the AIChE.

Student Earns Championship as Florida Tech Crew Team Member 

Carlos Chinpong ('03) - was a member of the Florida Tech Crew Team that won the 2002 Florida State Championship.

Florida Tech Student on the AIChE National Board

Frank Trevino, Jr. (02), Florida Tech AIChE Chapter President (2001 - 2002), was the student representative on the AIChE National Board, representing the whole US Chemical Engineering student body on the highest board of the Chemical Engineering profession.

Student Earns NSF Research Award

Chin Ping Chng ('02) was one of the recipients of the Outstanding Mini Symposium Presentation Award at the 2001 NSF Summer Undergraduate Research Program at Virginia Tech.

Student Co-Authors Research Article

Bruce Locuson ('01) co-authored a scientific publication in "Environmental Science and Technology", a very respectable journal of worldwide circulation. The article was titled "Photocatalytic Inhibition of Algae Growth Using TiO2, WO3, and Cocatalyst Modifications", and was the outcome of collaborative research at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), where Bruce participated as an intern.

Student Named All-America Collegiate Scholar by USAA

Oriana Obiri ('03) was named an All-America Collegiate Scholar by the United States Achievement Academy (USAA). The USAA award program offers recognition to superior students who excel in college academic programs and exhibit leadership qualities and enthusiasm. Oriana has been named the Most Outstanding Sophomore, has been honored by the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the National Dean's List, and was voted most improved oarswoman in 2000, as a member of the Florida Tech Women's Crew Team.

1999 Chem-E-Car Team Takes First Place in National Competition

The 1998-99 Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter Chem-E-Car Team won FIRST place in the nation in the poster & presentation part of the 1999 National AIChE Chem-E Car Competition in Dallas, TX.  This first ever Florida Tech Chem-E Car Team was formed by Michael Mensch ('00), Patrick Engel ('00), and Timothy McKenney ('00). The Chapter Advisor was Dr. Manolis Tomadakis. The students designed and built a rocket car model that was propelled by a solid composite rocket fuel. They made their own propellant and tested it several times to gather accurate data for the competition. They prepared an impressive poster and made a very professional presentation, earning clearly the support of both the audience and the judges. They were rewarded with an achievement of national caliber that brought Florida Tech Chemical Engineering to the front page once more. 

You may view their winning presentation here

Student Makes National US Surf Team

Albert Munoz ('99) was a member of the United States National Surf Team that competed at the World Surfing Games in Lisbon, Portugal in the fall of 1998 to defend the USA World Title. Held every two years, these championships are considered the equivalent of the Olympics for the sport of surfing.

Student Wins Third Place in National Research Competition

Marwan Jubran ('99), a graduate student - research assistant in the Chemical Engineering Department, won 3rd place in his category in the National Student Poster Competition. Marwan presented a paper titled "Design of an Efficient Pressure-Swing Adsorption Process for the Separation of Hydrogen Sulfide from Carbon Dioxide and Methane with Molecular Sieves". The designed process is part of a broader interdisciplinary project between the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) and researchers from three Florida Tech Academic Departments, aiming to provide solutions to environmental problems of the Florida Phosphate Industry and municipal wastewater treatment and utilize solar energy for low-cost hydrogen production. Marwan has conducted his research on that project under the guidance of Drs. Manolis Tomadakis, Chemical Engineering, and Howell Heck, Civil and Environmental Engineering.


Student Addresses National Student Audience 

David Scott ('99), Florida Tech AIChE Student Chapter President, was one of the four panelists in the "Co-ops and Internships" Panel Discussion and Workshop at the 1998 National Meeting of the AICHE. David shared his co-op experiences at Harris and NASA-KSC with a massive audience of students from all over the Nation. The students were particularly excited with David's involvement in the Design of the Autonomous Chemical Plant that will be assembled on the Martian surface, to produce the necessary fuel propellant for the spacecrafts' return to Earth. The symposium Chair, Dr. Patrick Amaral of AIChE was overwhelmed with David's presentation and commented emphatically on that to Chapter Advisor Dr. Manolis Tomadakis.

Student Earns AIChE Recognition

Matthew Campana ('98) received a Certificate of Recognition from AIChE for his participation in the "National Competition to define the 1999 Student Design Competition."

Student Wins Second in Regional Design Competition

Julie Davis ('98), won 2nd place and $500 in the Reactor Design Competition of the 1998 Southern Regional AIChE Conference held for the first time throughout the U.S. Julie presented an anaerobic sludge blanket reactor utilizing wastewater for energy production. The reactor uses microorganisms to process waste streams towards methane, which in turn can be used as an energy source. Such a reactor provides an inexpensive method for wastewater treatment, that could offer a viable solution to health and environmental problems in third-world countries. Julie designed and built the reactor working in a group with four more Florida Tech Chemical Engineering students, seniors Jennifer Butts ('99) and Sabina Winters ('98), sophomore Richard Snyder ('99), and freshman Matt Nesbitt ('00), under the guidance of Dr. Paul Jennings.

Student Wins Third in Regional Research Competition

Nitesh Melwani ('98), won 3rd place and $250 in one of the three Sessions of the Student Paper Competition of the 1998 Southern Regional AIChE Conference. Nitesh presented a technical and economical study, complete with environmental and safety analyses, for the production of ammonia using an Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plantship. The process utilizes the temperature differences within the ocean to generate the electricity needed for the electrolysis of sea water towards hydrogen, which in turn is used for ammonia production on board. The main advantage of this process over the conventional burning of fossil fuels is that it produces little or no environmentally harmful byproducts, thus providing a potentially nonpolluting source of free energy. Nitesh worked on this project in a group with two other Florida Tech Chemical Engineering seniors, Patricia Kelly ('98) and Israwal Thatthawla ('98), under the guidance of Dr. Mike Shaffer.

Students Selected to Work with Government Officials in US Congress

Shawn Davis ('98) and Elizabeth Wood ('98) were two of only three Chemical Engineering students selected in a nationwide competition for the 1997 Washington Internships for Students of Engineering (WISE). This was the first time that two students were selected for these prestigious internships from the same Program of any school. Shawn and Liz spent ten weeks during the summer of '97 in Washington D.C., together with another thirteen students from other schools and engineering disciplines, working with government officials on projects related to decision-making on complex technological issues and how engineers can contribute to legislative and regulatory public policy decisions. Throughout the ten weeks, the students interacted with leaders in the Congress and the Administration, industry, and prominent non-governmental organizations. Meetings with Congressional Committees, executive office departments, and corporate government affairs offices were daily activities. In addition, each student researched and completed a paper on a current and topical engineering-related public policy issue that is important to the sponsoring society. The American Institute of Chemical Engineers flew Shawn and Liz to Los Angeles in November '97, where they presented their papers in the Annual Meeting of the Institute. Their Papers were also published soon after on "Chapter One", the Official Student Publication of AIChE. Their articles were also published on the September '97 issue of the AIChE Washington Report.

Davis and Wood

Student Earns National AIChE Award

Shawn Davis ('98) received one of fifteen AIChE National Scholarship Awards for the 1997-98 academic year. The prestigious award reflects Shawn's excellent academic record (4.0 GPA) and enthusiastic involvement in AIChE activities as a Treasurer first and then President of the Florida Tech Student Chapter. The award includes a cash prize of $1,000. Spyros went on to pursue and earn a M.S. Degree in our Chemical Engineering Deparment.

Student Earns Second in National Research Competition

Elizabeth Wood ('98) won 2nd place in the National Student Paper Competition sponsored by the Institute of Hazardous Materials Management (IHMM). Elizabeth's paper reflected independent research she did on liability management and applicable legislation and the Harris waste contractor risk model. The award included a cash prize of $3,000 plus $1,250 to the sponsoring Program, Florida Tech Chemical Engineering Department. The Institute flew Elizabeth to the 11th Annual Conference of the Academy of Certified Hazardous Materials Managers Program in Atlantic City in October '97 to present her paper and receive her Award.


Student Earns First and Second in Regional Research Competition

Echo Harger ('97) won the 1st prize in her Session and 2nd overall in the Undergraduate Research Paper Competition held as the main event of the 1997 Southern Regional AIChE Student Conference at Charlotte, NC. The award included a cash prize of $950. A total of 34 papers were presented in the competition (in four Sessions of 8 or 9 papers each) by students from 17 Universities of the Southeast U.S. The presentations in each session were evaluated by three judges from major chemical companies that sponsored the conference such as Exxon, Eastman, Dow, Du Pont, etc. This accomplishment places Echo among the 20 best Chemical Engineering undergraduate students-researchers & presenters in the Nation. Echo presented a technical, economic, and environmental research study that she performed in a group with two more Florida Tech Chemical Engineering students, Jennifer Fox ('97) and Doriana Hun ('97), as their Senior Chemical Engineering Plant Design Project. The study investigated the feasibility of installing a modern black liquor gasification plant at the pulp and paper mill of Georgia-Pacific at Palatka, Florida. The results showed that such an installation would not only increase production, but also improve the efficiency, safety, and cost of the involved operations. The Chemical Engineering students and faculty of Florida Tech and the East-Central Florida Professional Section of the AIChE honored Echo for her accomplishment at the April 97 meeting of the Section and the '97 end-of-the-year picnic of the Department.


Students Win Scavenger Hunt in Regional Conference!

Twenty-five mixed teams of students from different Universities participated in the camera scavenger hunt organized on the opening night of the 1997 AIChE Southern Regional Student Conference. The teams wandered in Downtown Charlotte, trying to find and take pictures of a clocktower, a bartender, a statue of a child playing in a fountain, and more! The only team with Florida Tech students, namely Elizabeth Wood ('98) and Bob Pellegrin ('99), won the 1st Prize! Florida Tech Chemical Engineers are excelling in the Arts, too!

Student Named AIChE "Primary Element"

Jim Kerr ('97) was one of only six Chemical Engineering students in the Nation named "primary elements" in 1997 by the student paper of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), published as an insert to the official publication of AIChE, "Chemical Engineering Progress". "Primary elements" are Chemical Engineering students who managed to overcome hardships to excel in both academic and extracurricular activities. Jim was found to be ...overqualified for this honor, since he underwent three surgeries in less than three years, yet scored almost straight A's in his courses, won the 1994 Collegiate National Champion Oarsman Award as a member of the Florida Tech Rowing Team, excelled in two challenging group design projects in Florida Tech and an Internship in Mobil, received the Florida Tech Presidential Scholarship, and has been on the Dean's List from 1992 to 1997!

Student Co-Authors Two Research Articles

Spyros Nomikos ('97) was the co-author of two scientific publications that appeared on revered Journals of worldwide circulation in 1996 and 1997, presenting research work performed with Professor E. T. Smith at the Florida Tech Department of Chemistry. Their research was the first to develop an indirect method of determining internal protein dielectric constants via experimental and computer modeling data. This is indeed a very rare accomplishment for an undergraduate student.

Student Earns National AIChE Award

Myneeka Cook ('01), won one of the five 1996 National AIChE Minority Scholarship Awards for incoming college freshmen.