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Interdisciplinary efforts in graduate education
The theme of the next issue of Professional Education News will be interdisciplinary efforts in graduate professional education. Do you know of a graduate project or program at UD that gets extraordinary results by crossing disciplinary lines? Do you know of an outstanding interdisciplinary effort to serve our professional graduate students? Please send your ideas for feature
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Associate Provost for Professional Education
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Chemical engineering students gain industry experience
The company has a history of funding chemical engineering graduate students at UD through departmental grants, however the recent addition of the named Air Products Fellowship with an on-site company internship has proved a valuable and even pivotal experience for those awarded the opportunity.
Chemical engineering Ph.D. candidate Maeva Tureau (left), joined by UD chemical engineering alums Frank Petrocelli and Elizabeth D'Addio. [Photo by Ambre Alexander]
"Air Products is helping to educate the next generation of engineers who will help solve the world's demand for clean, affordable energy by providing this unique graduate fellowship coupled with an industrial research internship," says Norman Wagner, the Alvin B. and Julia O. Stiles Professor of Chemical Engineering and chairperson of the department. "We appreciate the dedicated and loyal alumni there who helped create this new graduate fellowship and continue to support it."
Frank Petrocelli is a senior research associate at Air Products involved in the company's recruitment and outreach efforts at the University of Delaware. A UD chemical engineering alumnus who earned his Ph.D. in 1985, he is uniquely situated to appreciate the confluence of the department's and his industry's aims.
Addressing technical and environmental challenges
"The research and teaching in UD's engineering departments is directed at working on solutions to the scientific and technical challenges in our environment and our society today," Petrocelli said. "At its core, those are the challenges we are ultimately working on at Air Products as well, and the internship is a great way for us to provide opportunities for graduate students who want to gain experience in an industrial research setting."
Headquartered in Allentown, Pa., Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. is the second largest industrial gas producer in the U.S., providing gases and chemicals for industries and applications ranging from bioenergy to photovoltaics to aerospace to health care. Chemical engineering Ph.D. graduate Elizabeth D'Addio was the first UD fellowship recipient, with her research focusing on ammonia decomposition catalysts to generate hydrogen for fuel cells. "Completing my internship in the midst of my graduate studies gave me a greater sense for the economic, social and political impact of my own dissertation research project, and helped me understand how research objectives are formulated in a business framework."
"Because of UD's partnerships with industry," D'Addio continued, "students gain a level of appreciation for their project's multi-dimensionality that would be difficult to obtain if they were exposed only to an academic setting." After her recent UD graduation, D'Addio joined Air Products as a research scientist.
Maeva Tureau is a current Ph.D. candidate in chemical engineering and fellowship recipient whose research involves nanostructured polymeric materials with applications in sustainable energy processes, and other applications. "This internship was my first exposure to the industrial world and I was really excited to have the opportunity to see how research was conducted elsewhere than in an academic lab setting. It was a very enriching experience that allowed me to realize the importance of research and development, and how materials can be readily processed into commercializable devices."
Gaining experience in academic and industrial settings
"For myself," added Tureau, "the internship experience definitely helped me realize what my place could potentially be in an industry environment and most importantly, shed some light on the differences between an academic vs. an industrial career." In 2012, Tureau will also begin a position with Air Products.
Thomas Kelly, also a doctoral candidate in chemical engineering, was the 2010-11 fellowship recipient. "I've completed internships before, but this was the first research experience. I enjoyed working with people from different backgrounds and abilities, and it was valuable to see how industrial research differs from academic research." Kelly is studying alternative energy sources with the goal of advancing the movement from fuels based on oil and gas toward biorenewable energy sources.