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Remarks by Section Chair, Dr. Herbert W. Cooper, at the September 19, 2011 Dinner Meeting

From The Chair’s Chair
September 21st, 2011

Greetings to all of you, and particularly to Students and Young Professionals. This is one of the irregular messages we will be posting from Board Members and others who are active in our Section,

I could speak for hours about why you should “Vote AIChE” by becoming active, the specific tangible advantages that AIChE’s Headquarters and our Metro New York Section bring to the table, and how you can benefit from them. But I will limit my enthusiasm to discussing our Local Section.

Who are we and what do we do?
The Metro NY Section of the AIChE is a group of really smart, interesting, approachable and frequently overly modest people, mostly ChEs. Our current situations vary widely, including being students, active practitioners and retirees. Our employers include production companies, process and equipment design companies, law firms, governmental agencies and not-for-profits such as the AIChE.

Our visible output includes Meetings, such as our monthly dinner ones with excellent Speakers who offer overviews of current relevant topics, and our Annual Energy and Resource Conference. The 6th Annual one, coming on December 8th, focuses on Water, including conservation & reuse, treatment & purification, storage & delivery, and how water projects can be financed.

And this year, our Section has accepted responsibility for putting together part of the educational program of the AIChE’s Northeast Regional Conference to be offered at the 54th Biannual Chem Show during the first week of November, This includes sessions covering Energy, Safety and Consulting. There is a nominal charge for attending these, but we have again organized a Career Session for engineering students at which a number of speakers talk about where they are now, what they do and how they got there. There is zero-cost for students attending this later event, but you do need to register in advance. (Details on Northeast Regional Conference and Career Day at the Chem Show.)

Our output also includes our online Monthly Newsletter that shows our upcoming Programs, who our Officers and Board Members are (with contact information), occasionally employment opportunities, and brief discussions of topics that we think may impact our Members.

What benefits might you get from being active in our Section?
You know that many new fields are emerging, and that our world’s technological, regulatory and social components are becoming more complex. The simple fact is that none of us ever knows when a particular bit of information may be the critical factor in making a career decision that turns out well or perhaps helps us avoid unfortunate choices. Or it might be just what we need to make a better recommendation when evaluating a proposed project or technology. Joining our Section and attending our meetings is an extremely time- and cost-efficient way to gain an exposure to a broad range of subjects, technologies, business considerations and the like.

Additionally, you all need to think about the networking opportunities that arise at our meetings. In my own case, I can identify several specific engagements my company received through people I met and worked with in our section; these would not have arisen any other way! Similarly, some of us have provided noticeable help to other Members in identifying new employment possibilities and then actually obtaining new positions.

And a message specifically to students:
The additional knowledge you can get by coming to our meetings will probably complicate your career decision-making, however it is also likely to lead to a better decision.

Additionally, I want to point out an aspect of networking that is often not appreciated by students. The reality is that whichever school you are attending, you are each getting an excellent education from excellent faculty members. Each school has a somewhat different focus, but is really not drastically different from the others. So, what can you offer to a potential employer that will set you apart from your friendly similarly educated competitors? How can you even get a foot in the door? One important factor is the ability to call someone and say:

Hello, this is John or Jane Smith, a student at XYZ College. We recently met at a Metro NY AIChE meeting and I’d like to run something by you for your opinion. When would it be a good time for us to talk for a few minutes?”

Initially this will beat, or at least be that something extra, that can supplement answering ads, going to job fairs and the like. And its value certainly continues after you land a job.

So what should you students do? Firstly, join our Section. There is no cost to undergraduate engineering students. You are important to our profession and to us, and this is our investment in you. Secondly, expand your contact list and the breadth of your professionally-important knowledge by getting actively involved. You should contact Arjun Gopalratnum ( or any of our officers and talk about what the best way for you to participate might be. And by all means come to our Career Session at the Chem Show on November 1st!

Let us hear from you
What would you like our Section do for you?
• Specific technology-related presentations?
• Social/Networking programs?
• Other?
Any comments and/or suggestions will be welcome.

Regards to all,

Herbert W. Cooper
Chair, Metro NY Section, AIChE

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