Pre Con

AIChE’s High-Energy Forum

AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers) 2012 Annual Meeting, Oct. 28–Nov. 2 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

aiche convene

 AIChE’s Annual Meeting is a “forum for chemical engineers and related professionals in chemistry and materials science to meet and exchange the latest scientific and technical details of their work,” said Karl Johnson, Ph.D., general arrangements chair for the meeting, and co-director of the Center for Simulation & Modeling at the University of Pittsburgh.


Pretty much everything is new to Johnson, who is working behind the scenes for the first time after attending AIChE’s annual educational forum for many years.  “Since I’m local, I help arrange volunteers to assist with the logistics of the sessions, making sure rooms are staffed and attendees well informed,” Johnson said.  “The goal is essentially an open exchange of ideas.  Sure, you pay to get to the meeting, but it’s free in an academic sense – there are no constraints on the content of one’s talk.” However, there are some physical constraints that AIChE needs to worry about.  “The convention center doesn’t have enough rooms for the number of sessions that we would like to hold – we have a lot of concurrent sessions,” Johnson said.  “ We’ve had to cutback on what we’d like to offer.” Even so, AIChE will host close to 800 sessions this year – and has set an all-time record for abstract submissions, receiving well over 6,000, according to Stephen Zitney, co-meeting program chair.


Because the Annual Meeting will be held in Pittsburgh, a former coal town, energy will be the main focus.  “Energy has been a focus of AIChE for years now,” said Zitney, who works in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab, “but given the location, there will be a big focus on traditional fossil energy, coal, and natural gas, as well as more renewable energy sources, [such as] solar and wind.” The purpose of the conference will remain the same: to allow chemical engineers interested in innovation and professional growth to meet and exchange ideas.  Likewise, AIChE’s approach remains unchanged: staying ahead of the curve in the world of chemical engineering by providing educational sessions on sustainable energy and new developments in biomedicine.  It’s a job that becomes a little easier in a city full of premier higher-learning institutes, including Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.  “It’s nice to have major regional universities involved,” Zitney said, “and make use of them as much as possible.”

Johnson added: “We have a huge program of many, many different technical areas being presented.  So it’s a great opportunity to present at these meetings, because it’s the cutting-edge research that’s going on in the industry and in national labs.”

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Convene’s Pre-Con/Post-Con series asks meeting planners about their challenges and how they intend to address them (Pre-Con), and then circles back around after the meeting has occurred (Post-Con) to see how well they worked out.

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.