Sheperd wins AIChE Student Design Competition

Michael Sheperd of Bryan, Ohio, a 2016 chemical engineering graduate of Trine University, has been named the winner of The A. McLaren White Award for taking first prize in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Student Design Competition – Individual Category.

Sheperd also won the award for safety in the individual category from the AIChE Safety and Health Division.

Sheperd will receive a $500 cash award and a plaque and an additional $600 cash award and certificate for the safety award. He also will receive free registration to the 2016 AIChE Annual Student Conference, held Nov. 11-14 in San Francisco, where he will be recognized during the Student Awards Ceremony and will give a presentation about his solution during the conference.

“It’s amazing that I get to do something of this caliber in my field of study,” Sheperd said. “I feel nervous but enthusiastic about presenting at a national conference.”

 “This was a national student design competition put on by AIChE. There is a different problem each year that typifies a real, working design situation,” said Sheperd. “This year the topic for the competition was ‘Cell Therapy for Spinal Cord Injuries: Commercial Manufacturing Facility.’  In the one-month provided for the competition I tried to develop the best design I could.  My design incorporated the expansion, differentiation and purification of a spinal cord therapy.  It also involved cost estimates on equipment, economic analysis of the facility/materials and environmental/safety considerations.”

“To win the AIChE National Student Design Contest problem, a student must put forth a tremendous amount of thoughtful work,” said John Wagner, Ph.D., professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering, who teaches Senior Design and submits the student entries. “Last year, in particular, the problem was more open-ended and students had to make hundreds of reasonable decisions to come up with a feasible design. Michael did an outstanding job.”

“We are extremely proud of Michael, who competed against Chemical Engineering programs all across the country,” said Amanda Malefyt, Ph.D., chair of the McKetta Department of Chemical & Bioprocess Engineering. “The fact that we have a long history of success in the design competition is a testament not only to the high quality of our students, but also to the commitment of the faculty within our department toward their education and its practical applications.” 

Sheperd agreed, saying, “This award shows that Trine professors do a fantastic job leading and teaching their students. My success was only possible through their dedication.”

This is the fifth year Trine University has won the AIChE National Student Design Competition; the university also had students win in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2015. Trine students received honorable mention in 2007, 2012 and 2014. Trine students received the AIChE National Design Safety Award from 2007-2010 and 2012-2014.