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How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

  • 1.  How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-07-2019 12:28

    As you may or may not know, AIChE is debuting its K-12 STEM Showcase at this year's Annual Meeting. Young students, their parents, and teachers will see chemical engineering in action through a series of demos put together by AIChE members.


    Can you share any examples of K-12 STEM events in your own communities or other ideas you might have to get kids excited about chemical engineering?

    Monica Mellinger
    Senior Membership Associate & Engage Community Lead

  • 2.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-08-2019 03:45
    Create jobs.

    Pavan Kumar Naraharisetti
    Assistant Professor
    Newcastle University in Singapore

  • 3.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-18-2019 14:32
    Lol, Probibly by hiring more millennials into chemical engineering. If I have kids telling them to go into chemical engineering is the last thing I will do. I have the degree...where are the jobs?

  • 4.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-20-2019 09:57
    As far as I remember, I became interested in Chemical Engineering specifically when I was a Sophomore in high school, upon the suggestion of my AP Chemistry Professor that recognized I had a keen interest in math and chemistry.  Up to that point, I can't say that anything specific ever influenced me towards engineering or that I even knew anything about ChemE, but that's just my experience.  

    In my working career, I've found local and employer-based initiatives to spread awareness for STEM and engineering via volunteer opportunities.
    Volunteering to help with things like MathCounts, Robotics Competitions, Summer Science Camps etc.
    Also, putting on demonstrations and teaching opportunities during Engineers Week in February is a great way to spread awareness of STEM and ChemE.   Central Pennsylvania Engineers Week Council is a group that puts on an annual event near Harrisburg, PA 

  • 5.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-21-2019 08:30

    My initial Engineering interest was in Nuclear Engineering. The introductory class for Nuclear Engineering was the same as for Chemical Engineering. I got an A+ and never studied and then found out that Chemical Engineering was the highest paying under grad degree at the time. Decision made I changed majors to Chemical Engineering. I grew up on a farm so engineering was a natural inclination for me with grain handling, irrigation etc. on the farm.


    On how to get high school students interested in Chemical Engineering I propose the following. A television show about a boutique specialty engineering firm that goes out and solves interesting engineering problems. If you remember years ago there was a TV show called LA Law. After it came out law school enrollments shot up. The Wall Street journal actually proposed in an editorial that the country needed something equivalent called LA Engineer.


    An example of a typical program would be to have a safety review on a new chemical process with a lot of reactions. Naturally lots of us have sat through really boring safety reviews since we just review drawings etc. In the program though as an engineer walks through a possible safety scenario issue the TV program would with computer animation actually show the scenario. Examples, run away reactions that blow up a vessel, pipes bursting from mechanical failure, dust cloud venting from a dust collector. The examples are endless. You have to have action in a TV show to keep interest and that is how you could do it.


    You could solicit ideas from engineers on actual incidents that could be referenced in the TV show.


    To add variety the main characters would have hobbies, beer brewing, hobby farming playing the organ.


    Just a random thought.


    Cris Hehner


    Principle Process Engineer and PE.         


  • 6.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-08-2019 05:35
    There are a few ways
    Northeastern University , my school, has developed a reseed program, please see the description below
    also we have schedule bus tours for high school students and coordinated tours of facilities of businesses such as raytheon  , the naval war college, composite manufacturing facilities etc  and had a skypt interview for high school science students with a gaming manufacturer and a future one at AMGEN
    chris semonelli
    middletown rhode Island



    Retirees Enhancing Science Education through Experiments and Demonstrations

    Since 1991 the RE-SEED program at Northeastern University has trained over 750 retired scientists and engineers in fourteen states to assist K-12 science teachers in the classroom. Today there are over sixty volunteers assisting science teachers in the greater Boston area. After taking part in a comprehensive training program, participants are asked to assist in science classrooms one day a week for one school year (there is no obligation to continue and volunteers may select their assignment). Most volunteers serve over three years (the retention rate is seventy percent), and are very satisfied with the experience (see survey results for details).

    Teachers and Principals: Request RE-SEED Support for 2015-2016 Here

    Retired* Engineers and Scientists – Sign Up for 2015 Info Session/Training Here

    Info Session: September 2016

    Training Program: September/October 2016

    The RE-SEED Program is part of the Center for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Education at Northeastern University. Other programs of the STEM Center focus on science teacher training and student programs in science learning.

    Please contact Ellen Schwartz at, or check out our one-page RE-SEED Flyer if you are interested in learning more about the RE-SEED program.


    The RE-SEED program at Northeastern University seeks to improve student outcomes in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by placing trained retired volunteer scientists, engineers and other STEM professionals in K-12 science classrooms. Since 1991 the program has trained over 750 retired scientists and engineers in fourteen states to assist science teachers in the classroom, delivering over 800,000 hours of classroom assistance at a cost of less than $5 per hour. Surveys have established the high acceptance of the program and belief in its effectiveness among volunteers, teachers and students. After completing a comprehensive free training program, participants volunteer to serve in a classroom once a week for one school year. Most volunteers serve over three years (the retention rate is seventy percent). RE-SEED volunteers work closely with the host science teachers to help them enrich and implement their school curriculum.

    • We give priority to underserved and underperforming schools.
    • We focus on the middle school years (6-8) which are critical for student preparation in pursuing STEM-related fields.
    • We serve all schools, public and private, religious and secular, without discrimination.
    • We train our volunteers in research based STEM pedagogy before they serve in the classroom.
    • We promote strong collaboration with teachers to maximize student STEM learning


    • Activity/inquiry-based program that stresses critical thinking
    • Focuses on the physical sciences
    • Integrates Mathematics and Science
    • Combines content with up-to-date pedagogy
    • Aligned with the Massachusetts Mathematics, Science & Technology Frameworks, the National Science Standards, and the MCAS test


    • Increase students' interest in science
    • Expand teachers understanding of the physical sciences
    • Make science relevant to students by bringing real-life science into the classroom
    • Increase students' and teachers' understanding of scientific principles and concepts
    • Assist students with science projects and science fairs
    • Make and bring science equipment to school
    • Mentor students and act as role models


    • "I would like to thank you personally for all of your kindness, generosity and other support that you have given me and the grade 7 & 8 students at the [school]. My students have been profoundly touched by your presence. I am so pleased that I have been a participant in the RESEED program since it`s inception. I sincerely hope that we can continue our work together."  – Middle School Teacher, June 2013
    • "Before the 6th grade went down to see you, I had some doubt. I really dislike science. After you were done, I was in shock and began to enjoy science by the minute. For the whole week, I told everyone, everything I knew about magnetism. Thanks to you I am now enjoying science and getting better grades. Please come again soon! My whole class loves you." – 6th Grade Student
    • "I told my wife, this (RE-SEED) was the second best thing I've done in my life." – RE-SEED Volunteer

      *You don't actually need to be fully retired to participate in this program.  Most all of the citizens that do RE-SEED are of retirement age, but still own and operate businesses, do other volunteer work, consult for their industry, or all of the above!


    Christopher Semonelli
    Vice President Sales & Marketing
    Middletown RI

  • 7.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-08-2019 09:00
    Thanks for posting about Northeastern's RE-SEED Program.  Great to see that my alma mater (and the world leader in experiential learning) is taking such a proactive role in K-12 STEM education.

    Aaron Sarafinas
    Sarafinas Process & Mixing Consulting LLC
    Warminster PA

  • 8.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-08-2019 09:15
    Thanks for your nice note
    I am just the piano player 
    Surrounded by a large contingent of passionate supporters who see the vision 

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 9.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-08-2019 09:47
    The big survey by the Boy Scouts indicated students make up their career minds for engineering majors in junior high school.  After receiving STEM grants from NSF (about 8 or 9 years). I ran junior high school programs focused on the work of engineers and an introduction to engineering.  About 3 or 4 of these programs a year were run.  They lasted for a  week.  The program was very successful and many graduated with engineering degrees. Linkedin  helps me to understand the important success of this program as I can continue to contact these former students.  I have outlines of these programs if interested.  One of the biggest fun days involved reverse engineering.  The students worked in teams to take apart and analyze ink jet printers.

    Harold Knickle
    Professor Emeritus of Chem Eng
    Naples FL

  • 10.  RE: How to get young students (K-12) interested in chemical engineering

    Posted 11-08-2019 16:57
      |   view attached
    We recently published a book entitled "Careers in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering", intended for students, teachers, and guidance counselors.
    We have received excellent reviews. For details, see attached file.


    Vic Edwards
    Mobile: 713-724-0406

    Victor Edwards PhD,PE
    President and Principal Consultant
    VHE Technical Analysis
    Houston TX