Supporting the Next Generation of Chemical Engineers at the VCU College of Engineering

Supporting the Next Generation of Chemical Engineers at the VCU College of Engineering

A Specialized Engineering Course Taught by Water Treatment Experts

This spring, ChemTreat expanded its longstanding partnership with the VCU College of Engineering to co-lecture a course on Water Essentials, teaching the fundamentals of industrial water treatment and its vital importance for environmental sustainability.

This specialized course provided aspiring chemical and life science engineers a unique opportunity to learn from real-life water treatment applications. A variety of technical experts from ChemTreat with decades of combined experience served as guest lecturers.

Meet the ChemTreat lecturers (from left to right): Joel Phillips, Katie Perryman, Richard Tribble, Vladimir Djukanovic, Will Henderson, Lori Palmer. Not pictured: Prasad Kalakodimi, Dale Stuart, Kurt Kraetsch, Kevin Boudreaux, Ed Sylvester, Chris Baron, Dave Marturana

“It has been exciting to share our knowledge of water treatment with the students at the VCU College of Engineering and introduce them to an industry that they may not have known existed,” said ChemTreat’s Wendy McKinnon, Vice President of Applied Technology.

The course, led by Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering James K. Ferri, Ph.D., covers topics ranging from natural water sources and pretreatment to microbiological monitoring and sustainability practices. The course examined the most important water applications, covering water chemistry and its impact on critical industrial processes including steam generation, heat exchanger and steam condenser cooling, high-purity water production, and wastewater treatment

According to McKinnon, “this idea has been developing for a few years. Finally, this year, with the assistance of Dr. Ferri, we were able to make it come to fruition.”

VCU-ChemTreat Course Leaders (from left to right): James K. Ferri, Ph.D., Wendy McKinnon, Russ Wilkins

Dr. Ferri said of the partnership, “working with the industry-leading technical experts at ChemTreat has been a very rewarding experience. The breadth of perspective and experience of the ChemTreat technical experts is invaluable to students – both in their professional development and technical mastery of the subject matter. The Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering is very grateful for the partnership opportunity.”

The ongoing partnership allows students to become familiar with the industry and gives ChemTreat an opportunity to interact with, impact, and prepare the next generation of chemical engineers with industry-specific, practical content.

ChemTreat’s Pretreatment Manager Katie Perryman presents on pretreatment methods of total suspended solids and total dissolved solids removal.

ChemTreat’s Historical Collaboration with the VCU College of Engineering

ChemTreat’s relationship with the VCU College of Engineering began in 1996 when ChemTreat acted as a sponsor for the Materials Lab.

Russ Wilkins, ChemTreat Senior Vice President of Applied Technology, stated that the partnership grew when ChemTreat was utilizing the  Nanomaterials Core Characterization Facility, “before we created the new Innovation Center, and that evolved into us assisting some of their people in the chemical engineering department and the chemistry department in their senior projects.”

Joel Phillips, Director of ChemTreat’s Analytical Lab, leads a lecture focused on laboratory analysis techniques, including water and deposit analysis, microbiological analysis, and advanced characterization methods.

ChemTreat has sponsored capstone projects for seniors in the VCU Engineering program since 2015, overseeing and working with students to conduct research. ChemTreat-sponsored capstone projects have earned first place in the annual expo at VCU three years in a row.

Wilkins also credits the continued expansion of the partnership to the VCU College of Engineering Chair and Professor in the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering, B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D.

ChemTreat currently employs over a dozen VCU graduates throughout its Research and Development, Technical Services, and Analytical groups and often recruits from the VCU College of Engineering.

Richard Tribble, Technical Service Consultant at ChemTreat, introduces foundational concepts in his lecture on Cooling System Fundamentals.

Looking Ahead

ChemTreat looks forward to supporting future engineers in the VCU College of Engineering, sponsoring capstone projects, and providing practical industry knowledge to help better prepare students for a future career in the field.

ChemTreat R&D Group Leader Vladimir Djukanovic leads a lecture on wastewater impurities and primary treatment processes.