Reaching for future engineers

by | April 24, 2019

future engineers

ABOVE: ecruiting, Engaging, Advancing Chemical Engineers (REACH), a student organization sponsored by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD, is helping high school students learn about chemical engineering. | Photo by Evan Krape

Student group hosts event for aspiring chemical engineers

When you were in high school, did you know what chemical engineering was? Do you know what it is now?

Chemical engineering deals with the physical, chemical and biological transformations of matter that are the basis for making useful products.

“Chemical engineering is a major that most students don’t learn about in their regular high school classes but can lead to a meaningful career solving many of the world’s problems, including renewable energy, human health, clean water, and new materials, to name a few,” said Cathy Fromen, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware.

Recruiting, Engaging, Advancing Chemical Engineers (REACH), a student organization sponsored by the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at UD, is spreading the word about this field — which, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is projected to have 8 percent job growth between 2016 and 2026.

REACH, advised by Joshua Enszer, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and Megan Argoe, academic advisor for chemical and biomolecular engineering, hosted its first Engineering Day for 21 high school students at the UD’s Newark campus on March 9, 2019. This event was a successful result of collaboration between REACH and UD’s K-12 Engineering Outreach program, which is directed by academic program manager Melissa Jurist and assisted by Janna Rhodes.

“Unlike most other engineering disciplines, chemical engineering requires thinking about the transformation of the molecular nature of materials to solve big problems,” said Enszer. “In high school, students get a chance to learn about transforming materials in chemistry, but that chemistry is not usually connected to engineering. It’s important to expose students to the opportunities in this field of engineering.”

Even at high schools with strong programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), chemical engineering is not widely explored in engineering-focused classes. The students of REACH want to introduce chemical engineering to high schoolers so that they have every opportunity to excel, said Charlie Jabbour, a junior in the major and recruiting co-leader for REACH.

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