Trine chemical engineering teams qualify for nationals

AKRON, Ohio — Eighteen chemical engineering students from Trine University took part in competitions at the North Central Student Regional Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), with two Trine teams qualifying for national competition.

The event was held April 8-9 at the University of Akron.

The university’s ChemE Jeopardy team finished in first place. In the ChemE Jeopardy competition, teams participate in a single-elimination Jeopardy-style trivia contest covering undergraduate chemical engineering topics. For each bout, three teams go head-to-head with two rounds of questions and a final Jeopardy.

Trine defeated the University of Illinois Chicago in a head-to-head matchup in the semifinal round, then defeated Western Michigan University and the University of Toledo in the championship.

Team members were: Jonah Blanchard, a senior from Wauseon, Ohio; David Deniston, a junior from Bowling Green, Ohio; Adam Dumas, a junior from Swanton, Ohio, who served as captain; Sherrie Riser, a senior from Anderson, Indiana; and Laura Weller, a senior from Munster, Indiana. Allen Hersel, Ph.D., professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, was advisor for the project.

“We were very excited to participate in and win this year's regional ChemE Jeopardy Tournament because the past three years have been a virtual competition,” said Dumas. “We're very excited to compete in Phoenix in November.”

Trine’s ChemE car team finished in second place, also qualifying for nationals. In the ChemE Car competition, teams of students must build a small “car,” about the size of a shoebox, powered by a chemical reaction and stopped by a change in chemical concentrations. The team has to design the car to travel between 15 and 30 meters and carry a load of 0 to 500 grams of water, with the exact distance and load not specified until during the actual competition. Power and stopping mechanisms must be students’ own original design.

Team members were: Dean Campbell, a freshman from Batesville, Indiana; Luke Crowner, a freshman from Saline, Michigan; David Deniston, a junior from Bowling Green, Ohio; Parker Gillespie, a senior from Solsberry, Indiana; John McClelland, a sophomore from Oak Forest, Illinois; and Madison Ruen, a freshman from Antwerp, Ohio. John Wagner, Ph.D., professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, was advisor for the project.

The Trine vehicle stopped 4.78 meters short of the target, despite the team having to resolve a wiring issue that caused the car to reverse during its first run.

“After identifying, brainstorming and problem-solving the issue, we were excited to still perform well and advance to nationals,” said Gillespie.

Four Trine students also presented undergraduate research posters at the event. Erika Kendall from North Manchester, Indiana, earned second place for “Maximization of Lipid Production in Chlorella protothecoides Using Light Wavelengths.” CJ Elston from Plainfield, Indiana (presenter), and Elaine Kuckkahn from Tomohawk, Wisconsin (author), placed third for “Closed Systems, Blown Open?”

Jacob Borden, Ph.D., associate professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering, was advisor for student research.

National competitions will be held during the 2022 AIChE Annual Meeting, Nov. 13-18 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Top photo: Trine University's ChemE Jeopardy team won first place in AIChE regional competition and will advance to nationals: Team members are, from left, Jonah Blanchard, David Deniston, Sherrie Riser, Laura Weller and Adam Dumas.

  • Jeopardy

    Jeopardy - Members of Trine University's ChemE Jeopardy team compete at the North Central Student Regional Conference of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), held at the University of Akron. From left, Laura Weller, Sherrie Riser, Jonah Blanchard and David Deniston.

  • ChemE Car preparation

    ChemE Car preparation - Trine University ChemE Car team members, from left, John McClelland, Dean Campbell, Luke Crowner and Madison Ruen prepare their vehicle for competition.

  • Erika Kendall

    Erika Kendall - Erika Kendall earned a second place award at AIChE regional competition for her research poster, “Maximization of Lipid Production in Chlorella protothecoides Using Light Wavelengths.”

  • ChemE Car Poster

    ChemE Car Poster - Trine University ChemE Car team members, from left, Dean Campbell, Luke Crowner, Madison Ruen, Parker Gillespie and John McClelland, with their car and a poster describing their project.

  • ChemE Car Team

    ChemE Car Team - Trine University's ChemE Car team won second place in AIChE regional competition, qualifying for nationals: Team members are, from left, David Deniston, Parker Gillespie, Dean Campbell, John McClelland, Luke Crowner and Madison Ruen.

Last Updated: 04/14/2022