National-level accomplishments round out big 2020 for Iowa State AIChE

Chem-E-Car run
On the track — the ISU Chem-E-Car of the Ninetails with Attitude team makes a virtual distance run.

A whirlwind of virtual activity near the end of the fall semester has once again netted some significant experience and major honors for the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering’s American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter.

The AIChE Annual Student Conference was held virtually November 13-16, with the Iowa State chapter in action in the Chem-E-Car competition, and several group members, along with the entire chapter, receiving prestigious awards.

Students hosting virtual seminar
Some of ISU’s AIChE student members are shown during the live seminar they hosted on engaging students and staying connected in a virtual environment.

Other notable achievements for Iowa State’s chapter surrounded the execution of the conference, with the ISU contingent kicking off the entire event with a live seminar about engaging students and staying connected with chapter members in a virtual environment. The group was also selected to provide a pre-recorded seminar about running a safe and effective Chem-E-Car program. “Being selected for two seminars was an honor, especially to be the only chapter to give a live seminar – all the rest were pre-recorded,” said teaching professor Stephanie Loveland, the faculty adviser for ISU’s AIChE group.

Leadership in 2020 had already been established by the Iowa State AIChE chapter after successfully organizing and hosting the group’s virtual MidAmerican Regional Student Conference in October, stepping in when another school was unable to meet the timeline required for a virtual presentation (see “Win-win! CBE hosts first-ever virtual AIChE regional conference, takes first in Chem-E-Car competition” under News on this web site).

K-12 Outreach Team
K-12 Outreach Committee members with props for their K-2 presentation on putting a stop to viruses.

For the first time in the chapter’s history it was named an Outstanding Student Chapter and was recognized at the annual event. The honor is presented annually to chapters that show an exceptional level of participation, enthusiasm, program quality, professionalism, and involvement in the university and community.

Another significant first was achieved by the chapter in the K-12 Outreach Competition, taking top honors in their first time as an entrant. The ISU committee, led by CBE undergrad Hailey Bates, was honored for a proposal for a program in the K-2 division called “Putting a Stop to Viruses,” which teaches how soap binds to viruses and kills them as it cleans our hands.

The Chem-E-Car competition saw 27 entries from around the world vying for top honors in the challenge that features student-designed miniature vehicles that are both powered and stopped by chemical reactions. The cars compete one at a time on a designated course, and the distance from the finish line to when the car stops is measured and recorded. The entry that stops closest to the line is the winner. The Iowa State chapter’s Ninetails With Attitude team, which took first place in the regional competition in October, had runs that saw their car stop 1.7 and 1.3 meters from the finish, respectively, which was good for 13th place.

Stephanie Loveland hosting virtual award ceremony
Teaching professor and ISU AIChE faculty adviser Stephanie Loveland served in several virtual roles with the conference, including hosting the awards ceremony.

Chapter vice president Spencer Wolfe was recognized with the Donald F. Othmer Sophomore Academic Excellence Award, presented to one student member in each student chapter who has attained the highest scholastic grade-point average during his/her freshman and sophomore years. Maggie Toepfer received the Freshman Recognition Award, presented to one active AIChE undergraduate student member in each student chapter who has been the most active in their student chapter during his/her freshman year.

As a bonus, ISU chapter member Anna Buchholz was selected to act as emcee for one of the Chem-E-Car tracks, after turning in a strong performance in that role with the regional conference.

Loveland, who served as AIChE Student Chapters Committee chair this past year, hosted several events, including the keynote address Q&A, and presented the student awards at the virtual awards ceremonies. Over 1,400 chemical engineering students from around the world attended the conference.