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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Chemical engineering students ready to showcase projects at annual Engineering Open House

More than 100 Chemical Engineering students are taking part in this year’s University of Illinois College of Engineering Open House. This annual two-day event takes place March 8 and 9 and features 250 exhibits and attracts more than 20,000 visitors to the campus.

Chemical engineering students will showcase 27 projects at this year’s open house. From energy to safety to key engineering principles and processes, students will feature various aspects of chemical engineering, including demonstrating the extrusion process by using Play-Doh. From a light-up model of an oil refinery to show where fuel for vehicles comes from to demonstrating  the synthesis of algae-based biofuels to showing how hydrogen can be an alternative energy source, all will be highlighted.

Hari Agarwal, Josh Moller and AG Navarro (pictured from left to right) are getting ready for the University's annual Engineering Open House March 8 and 9. They are working on a project called Fuel for the Future, in which they demonstrate the process of making biofuels and are creating a mini photobioreactor to grow algae, cultivate the algae biomass, and extract oil from it.
Hari Agarwal, Josh Moller and AG Navarro (pictured from left to right) are getting ready for the University’s annual Engineering Open House March 8 and 9. They are working on a project called Fuel for the Future, in which they demonstrate the process of making biofuels and are creating a mini photobioreactor to grow algae, cultivate the algae biomass, and extract oil from it.

For chemical engineering sophomores Claire Gibbons and Michael Richards, participating in this year’s open house is a great team event and a way to grow in leadership. “EOH provides a unique opportunity to work in a team on a project that explores chemical engineering outside the classroom,” they said.

Sharing their passion for engineering with high school visitors is an exciting opportunity for the students.

“You feel the value of your education when you have the opportunity to share some of your knowledge with other people,” Gibbons said. “It is especially rewarding to answer the questions of young audience members who are eager to learn about science and engineering.”

Gibbons and Richards say they chose chemical engineering as a field of study because they were strongly influenced by chemistry and math teachers in high school. They said they wanted “a major that would allow us to apply our knowledge to impact the world in a positive way.”

“Chemical engineering opens a world of opportunities, including future potential to get involved with the business and management side of industry,” Gibbons said.

Richards said he chose the University of Illinois initially because of its prestige and rankings. But when he visited the school, he noticed so much more. “The Chemical Engineering program had the feel of a small department, with the ability to work on real projects as an undergraduate,” he said. “The student body seemed energetic, and I like the pairing of orange and blue. And most of all, I really wanted to spend my breaks from class sitting on the quad—an iconic collegiate scene.”

Richards said his career goals are to work in to the petrochemical industry with plans to work abroad. Gibbons said she wants to work in the energy industry and “develop solutions to global energy problems with other engineers around the world.”

Chemical Engineering student Nick Connolly takes a break from working on his group's project, Lit Up Oil. The group has made a light-up, 3-D display of a simplified oil refinery to demonstrate the process by which crude oil is refined into usable products.
Chemical Engineering student Nick Connolly takes a break from working on his group’s project, Lit Up Oil. The group has made a light-up, 3-D display of a simplified oil refinery to demonstrate the process by which crude oil is refined into usable products.

Both students said they agree that being part of the engineering open house is a great experience. “We learn how to explain chemical engineering principles to a general audience and get to meet other students within the department,” Richards said.

The open house takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, March 8 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 9. To learn more about this year’s Engineering Open House and to make plans to attend, visit eoh.ec.illinois.edu