Wacker Joins Process Safety Initiative


The U.S. subsidiary of global chemical manufacturer Wacker Chemie AG has joined forces with professional chemical engineering groups to support and promote the importance of process safety knowledge for the future workforce.

Wacker Chemical Corporation, headquartered in Adrian, MI, has united with industry members in an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) program that promotes the advancement of the chemical engineering profession at the collegiate level, it said in a recent announcement.

The program is conducted through AIChE’s Undergraduate Process Safety Learning Initiative, a part of the AIChE Foundation’s Doing a World of Good campaign.

The initiative relies on on industry working together with colleges and universities to transform chemical engineering education, says David Wilhoit, Wacker Chemical Corporation president and CEO.

“The AIChE reports that 72 percent of chemical engineering graduates entering the workforce have limited process safety education,” Wilhoit explains.

“This global effort is aimed at defining how the next generation of chemical engineers are prepared to enter the workforce, and is a main component of the Doing a World of Good campaign.”

Satisfying an Industry Need

AIChE Executive Director June Wispelwey says that while industry has made progress in safety, company leaders say that engineers coming out of college need to be better trained in process safety when they enter the workforce.

Moreover, although the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology recently enacted standards that require process safety to be part of the chemical engineering curriculum, universities have not yet developed a standardized curriculum to fulfill this new requirement.

“That needed training is why AIChE, its participating companies, and the CCPS [Center of Chemical Process Safety, a AIChE technical subsidiary] collaborated on this initiative and made it part of the Doing a World of Good campaign,” Wispelwey states.

Three major components make up the Learning Initiative, Wilhoit notes:

  • Modernizing and developing curriculum;
  • Educating faculty; and
  • Engaging in educating students.

All of these involve the collaboration of the chemical engineering community, industry and academia, he explains.

Bringing these groups and collective resources together in a unified approach reportedly provides the best opportunity to provide chemical engineering graduates a working knowledge of process safety.

Wacker Contributions

According to Wacker Vice President Mary Beth Hudson, the company will be pledging resources to support the initiative with a five-year partnership commitment.

“We will begin the process of facilitating educating college and university faculty members about process safety mid-year 2017 and have identified our Charleston, TN, plant as the starting point,” says Hudson. Hudson also serves as site manager of the Charleston facility.

“There are a considerable number of colleges and universities within reasonable proximity of our plant which have chemical engineering programs,” she adds.

As part of its commitment, the company plans to host those area faculty members and present a sustainable business and academic case for including process safety education at the college level, Hudson notes.

“Our belief is that the chemical engineering community, industry and academia working together will positively impact society for the foreseeable and longer term future,” Wacker explains.

About AIChE

Based in New York, AIChE is a professional society of more than 53,000 chemical engineers in 110 countries, with members working in corporations, universities and government.

The association serves as a focal point for information exchange on the frontiers of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology, and chemical plant safety and security.

Through its Doing a World of Good campaign, AIChE expects to raise $15 million over five years to be directed toward five transformative priorities that will advance chemical engineering and bring that expertise to bear in addressing societal needs.


Tagged categories: Coating chemistry; Coatings raw materials manufacturers; Health & Safety; Health and safety; North America; Process Safety Management; Raw materials; Safety; Wacker; Wacker Chemie AG

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