Continuing the Legacy - AIChE's Achievements

Continuing the Legacy - AIChE's Achievements

Abhishek Pattnaik Sanjeet Patro | Nov 22, 2021

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AIChE NIT Rourkela chapter has been in a phase of outstanding achievements series that started from 2020 (click here). The club has witnessed participation in international competitions and has kept on enhancing its relationship with other sister chapters. This year, the club members managed to bag several accolades to their accounts and got an opportunity to participate in the Annual Student Conference (ASC), which happens to be a prestigious competition held at the international level. Due to the pandemic, ASC was conducted online this year as well (click here to read about AIChE's feat in ASC 2019).

This article aims to put those achievements under the spotlight and how the club leads feel about them. Let's Begin!

VICTORIOUS AT NATIONAL AND GLOBAL EVENTS:

Team MM congratulates AIChE members on their remarkable performances at Student Regional Conference ALCHEMY and the ASC 2021. These events have been featured in local newspapers and have brought recognition and praise to the institute and the student chapter.

Chem-E-Jeopardy Champions:

Chem-E-Jeopardy is one of the main events of the Regional and Annual conferences. After coming second in the Regional Conference and qualifying for the ASC, it was only a matter of time for Team XYZ to etch their name on the international platform. Their achievement was acknowledged by many and was a matter of pride for both AIChE and NIT Rourkela.

Team MM reached out to the team members, Birupakhya Patra, Millen Samantaray, Swagat Subhakanta Das and Swastik Brahma, to know more about their journey to the ASC and their experiences while being at it. Here's what they had to say,

MM: After qualifying in the SRC and knowing that you will be representing NIT Rourkela on an international platform, what was your reaction?

Swagat Das: It was exciting and bittersweet at the same time as we knew we had to arrange the participation fees. We stood 2nd in SRC and got confirmation after 1 or 2 weeks that we would participate in ASC. We guessed that it wouldn't be easy for us to arrange 145 dollars for each member, accounting for approx 45000 INR for the whole team. Last year it was around 40-50 dollars, but since this year was a hybrid conference, the registration money was too high to participate in a single event. So the main difficulty was to get permission from the SAC to get the registration money, but our faculty advisor, Prof Biswajit Saha, SAC officials, and Dean SW were highly supportive. Finally, we could register on the last day itself before 5 -6 hours of the deadline. That's a story in itself.

Millen Samantaray: The payment was the issue; we had to find the right card to complete the international transaction. We asked every person we knew who had an international card, but our payment got rejected every time. Finally, we were able to find a card through which we made the payment successfully, and it was a last-minute job done. It wasn't a smooth ride from SRC to ASC. We were pretty excited to participate in this as the last time AIChE NIT Rourkela participated in such an event was in 2019 Orlando that our seniors had participated in. Last year we were the organisers so most of us couldn't participate. This was a kind of opportunity that all AIChE student chapters sought, and it was quite an outstanding achievement for us.

MM: How did you prepare for the Jeopardy finals, and what was the key to your success? 

Swagat: Chem-E-Jeopardy is a six-category quiz game, out of which four are from the chemical engineering core, one from general science, and one is from miscellaneous which can have topics from space to Marvel, Disney, sports, etc. So for this, the main focus should be on the chemical engineering core, and we had prepared topics like Fluid Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Mass Transfer, Heat Transfer. Besides this, we were also going through the Disney, Marvel trivia etc. Sometimes in the miscellaneous category, it is also asked about AIChE itself, so we went through everything we can find about AIChE. We also read about the world's first inventions, inventors, discoveries made by people, and everything that we can find. 

Millen: There were a great lot of topics that weren't taught to us yet. Going through these topics was a challenging part. We had some control over the topics taught to us, and we had confidence in handling them. We divided the topic amongst ourselves, starting from elementary physics, chemistry etc. and hoped for the best. Birupakhya is quite well-versed in the chemical engineering core topics, so we mainly focused on it, while the rest focused on general chemistry, physics, and miscellaneous parts. The preparation for jeopardy started much earlier. Targeting SRC, we had begun preparing the whole chapter for jeopardy, not just a single team. We had stuff like professional development weeks where we conducted intra-chapter Chem e Jeopardy every two weeks. I guess it helped the chapter and our team gain the essential practice that we needed.

Birupakhya Patro: Out of the six categories in the Chem-E-Jeopardy, we were only sure about core subjects, and for the miscellaneous topic, we were not sure what topics would be asked; that's why we made our core part strong.

Swastik Brahma: We also practised with other chapters, and we invited them for mock sessions and conducted practice sessions with them. For this practice part, I will thank my chapter members, mainly Pritish Dixit (President), Siddarth Monhanty (Vice-President) and other juniors. They conducted many mock jeopardy sessions with our chapter members, Indian chapter members and even from chapters like Brazil, Peru etc. These mock sessions helped us a lot because we were getting exposure to more and more questions and categories to prepare accordingly.

By conducting these mock rounds, we got to know in which categories or areas our opponents are strong and in which area they are weaker so that we can plan out accordingly to grab those weak areas and score more and more in those areas. The key factor of success was our teamwork. We trusted ourselves, and if a topic is assigned to someone, no one else interfered in it, and the whole topic was his responsibility. When we say 'teamwork', it also reflects the teamwork of the whole chapter because our chapter was very intended to do well in this competition. We had targeted to do well in SRC, and ASC came as a cherry on the top for us. So it was something that our chapter had aimed from the very beginning of our tenure. We give credit to our seniors as they had prepared a proper base, and they introduced to us what was there to explore, which made the difference. 

MM: How was your experience at the virtually held ASC over the weekend?

First of all, talking about the virtual part, if it was not due to corona, we might have attended the conference in person in Boston, USA. So that's the sad part: we had to participate in it virtually from our home with the unstable network connection, like someone getting disconnected from the call, buzzer lag, etc. We missed a tricky question in the semi-finals as we got disconnected from the call. It would have been a much better experience if it had been in person in Boston. The virtual part was pretty ecstatic for us as we all were very pumped up and very nervous at the same time. In the semi-final round, it was a do or die situation. Out of the three teams, either you score the highest or get eliminated from the competition. If we had lost that one semi-final round, it would have been over for us, and all the 450 dollar registration money would have gone. Our semi-final round experience was like a rocket that deep dives into the sea and finally managed to come out somehow. We were slightly less nervous in our final round as we were sure we would get a minimum podium finish in the finals as there were only three teams. Still, as we were in the finals, we wanted to win the competition as no one wanted to come third after reaching the finals.

MM: What are the prizes and benefits that you'll be receiving as the winners of the Chem-E-Jeopardy contest? 

As per the rewards, we will be getting a certificate and a cash prize of 400 dollars for ASC. We got another 100 dollars for the SRC. More than the awards, it's more about the feat that we have achieved. Chem-E-Jeopardy is the flagship event of the AIChE undergraduate competition, and more than the cash prize, it's the achievement and reputation we got. In the last 4-5 years, no one from India or Southern Asia had come up first. Some chapters had either come second or third, but no one bagged the first position. We became the first chapter to bag the first prize in the South Asia region. The cash prize is the additional incentive that we got, but it was the name and fame of NIT Rourkela and the AIChE NIT Rourkela chapter that spread across the country and the globe. 

MM: How did it feel after coming out as the international Chem-E-Jeopardy champions? 

The first question we asked ourselves was, Did we really win? We were trailing till the final question, and it was for the last question we were able to win the competition. We were the only team to give the correct answer in the final round. When it happened, it was unbelievable for us. It took us some time to process it that we have won. In the SRC finals, the IIT Roorkee and NIT Rourkela teams contended for 1st and 2nd positions. We got it wrong in the final jeopardy question and bagged the second position, and IIT Roorkee bagged the first position as they answered it correctly. So that was our constant fear in ASC as we had already faced a similar situation in SRC where our fate depended on the last question. We were pretty worried and scared that it might happen again, but in the end, you have to take the risk, and if it goes correct, you will get the benefits. Ironically, in both semis and finals, the last question was the deciding one. The final question is all about gambling, as without knowing the question, we had to gamble some of your points. We went all out as we had gambled all our points in SRC and bagged the first position.

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Chem-E-Safe Winners and K-12 STEM Showcase Runners up in SRC Alchemy 2021:

Chem-E-Safe puts our problem-solving and tactical skills to the test by checking the abilities of the participating teams to overcome workplace safety or other technical problems. After the problem statement was issued, all the chapters had 12 hours to develop an effective solution and create and present a PowerPoint presentation accordingly. Team Spartans (Siddharth Mohanty, Pritish Dixit, Prasad Thakre, Utkarsh Mishra) were declared the contest winners.

The K-12 STEM Showcase competition was held in this year's Regional Conference to promote the awareness of STEM topics. Various topics of chemical engineering were selected to spread awareness among the school students. After a close contest between all the teams, Team MASS (Millen Samantaray, Swagat Subhakanta Das, Siddharth Ray, Arpit Subhankar Pati) grabbed second place in the competition. 

TAKING UP THE BATON:

After the previous Executive Board and members achieved so much, it was a challenge for the newly elected Board members of AIChE NITR to reach greater heights and make sure the legacy of AIChE NITR keeps growing. After the AIChE awards for 2020-21 were announced, the results were undoubtedly up to the expectations as many chapter members made to the list. Here are some of those, 

OUTSTANDING STUDENT CHAPTER AWARD (2020-21)

This award is presented annually to those Student Chapters that show an exceptional level of participation, enthusiasm, program quality, professionalism, and involvement in the university and community. AIChE NITR bagged this award for the second consecutive year showing their dominance in the Southern Asia Region. 

Team MM reached out to Abhisek Agarwal, the ex-President of the AIChE NITR chapter, to know how he felt about the chapter's achievements, having seen them up so close and being a part of it for so long. This is what he said,

AIChE NITR's journey for the past 2 years has been a dream for each one of us. The way we tackled the Covid scenario and successfully organized some very interesting events like Navdhara, Career Fair and the most important SRC 2020, reflects everything. I want to dedicate this to each and every member of this chapter and most importantly my juniors for being the pillars of this sucess and taking forward the legacy. The achivements speak for themselves, how we have grown as a chapter this year and winning the Chem-E-Jeopardy International was something which made us all emotional. This is not only a club, AIChE NITR has been a family to each one of us. I am very honoured and proud of being a member of this chapter.

DONALD F. OTHMER SOPHOMORE ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD

The Sophomore Academic Excellence Award is presented to one active AIChE undergraduate student member in each student chapter. The awardee must have attained the highest academic grade-point average during their freshman and sophomore years.

The application is filed upon the recommendation of the Student Chapter Advisor. This year, Shubham Giri, a pre-final year student from the Department of Chemical Engineering, won the award. 

FRESHMAN RECOGNITION AWARD:

Apart from this, Arpit Subhankar Pati, a Sophomore of the Metallurgy and Materials Engineering branch, bagged AIChE's Freshman Recognition award, which is presented to one active AIChE undergraduate student member in each student chapter who has been the most active in their student chapter during their freshman year, on the recommendation of the Student Chapter Advisor.

ScaleUP SPONSOR'S ESSAY CONTEST conducted by CHEVRON CORPORATION:

ScaleUp Sponsors Essay Contest Travel Award for the Annual Student Conference under the aegis of AIChE and its ScaleUp Program; ScaleUp corporate sponsors awarded $500 scholarships which may be used as travel stipends for this year's AIChE Annual Student Conference. To qualify, students needed to have a declared major in Chemical Engineering and complete a written essay on any of the following topics determined by the corporate sponsor. Utkarsh Mishra, a pre-final year from the Department of Chemical Engineering who happens to be a member of AIChE's Regional Subcommittee, came out as the contest winner.

GROWING INFLUENCE:

AIChE NITR has also been conducting inter-chapter meets with various student chapters worldwide, which has led to extensive networking and established more professional connections. This ultimately aids the chapter's reach and ensure the personal growth of the members.

Representation in AIChE's Executive Student Committee (ESC) for 2021-22:

The Executive Student Committee or ESC is an international body that is the institute's only student-run committee. The ESC ensures that Student Chapters all over the world can get the most out of AIChE. It consists of various Sub-Committees such as the Publication SubcommitteeSister-Chapter Subcommittee, K-12 Subcommittee, Conference Experience Subcommittee, and Regional Subcommittees.

A total of 13 members got selected into the ESC this year from AIChE's NIT Rourkela chapter, which is greater than any other chapter in the entire Southern Asia Region. This further proves the dominance that this chapter has been establishing on an international level.

Team MM reached out to Swagat Subhakanta Das, the Publications Subcommittee Chair, to ask how he felt about the chapter's growing influence on an international level:

AIChE NITR has the highest representation in ESC from a single student chapter as one subcommittee chair and 12 subcommittee members. It is an outstanding achievement in itself. Starting with just 2 ESC members two years ago, we are now with 13 member representation at ESC. All of the 13 members are striving towards not just personal growth and networking but for the community. We all are working together to help & improve student chapters as well as encourage inter-chapter communication to get the best out of AIChE. While getting into ESC depends on the proper form filling and a sound profile, the effort our seniors put into training us can be seen in the result. These all create a good base for the upcoming batches to leverage these fantastic opportunities to grow more personally and professionally by connecting with more like-minded people as well as some well-known personalities of the Chemical Engineering field.

PRESIDENT'S PERSPECTIVE:

Despite a hectic semester and other hurdles, the EB and members of AIChE managed to stay active and conduct events at regular intervals, which was quite a feat. Here is what the current President of AIChE NITR, Pritish Dixit, had to say about the chapter's achievements,

MM: How big a part has AIChE played in your life? How does it feel seeing the chapter do well on so many fronts?

Pritish Dixit (PD): I joined the AIChE NITR chapter in my first year. Since then, I have had quite an experience working on the flagship project, Chem-E-Car, to organising the events and taking part in National and International conferences; AIChE has provided a platform for the members to grow and develop. In the last couple of years, the chapter has grown many folds. The transition from offline to online was tough but proved to be a boon for the chapter. The wholehearted effort of the previous Executive Body and the members who have made the transition a successful one. The chapter's achievements in the Student Regional Conference, 2021 and winning the Chem-E-Jeopardy at the Annual Student Conference, 2021 have made this a fantastic year for the chapter. All the efforts of the members and the executive body have made it all possible.

MM:  Now that the chapter has established itself on an international level, what are your plans for the future and maintaining its legacy?

PD: We plan to conduct many new events and continue our mainstream events, Navdhara (click here) and Career fair. We aim to develop the technical aspect of our chapter as well by initiating new projects on which we can work. Recently we have started conducting some sessions focussed on the professional development of the students. We have a lot of plans moving forward, and we hope we achieve many more feats in the future and maintain a good relationship with other national and international chapters.

Team MM congratulates the club for its outstanding achievements and wishes the very best for their endeavours ahead.

Designs by – Piyush Sahoo

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