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Virtus Dynamica Chemical Engineering Student Award 2017
By Martin Berutti on 04.13.17
Mimic Simulation

On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at the St. Louis section AIChE Meeting, we presented the Virtus Dynamica Chemical Engineering Student Award to recipients from Missouri University of Science and Technology, University of Missouri, Columbia, and Washington University in St. Louis.

Virtus Dynamic Chemical Engineering Student Award Winners 2017
Mart Berutti, MYNAH; Nicholas Cole, Mizzou; Christine Lucky, Wash U; Mathias Whitworth, MS&T; Zach Sample, MYNAH

At the meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers - St. Louis section on April 12th, I had the honor of presenting this award to the 2017 winners. My comments from the evening are below.

It is good to be in the presence of fellow chemical engineers. It has been an exciting couple years for the chemical industry. M&A activity is high as Dow spun off part of their business to Olin, announced a merger with Dupont, was slowed down by the EU courts, and now has to spin off other parts of their business. Bayer buys our local Ag Chemical and seed technology leader Monsanto for a premium. It seems like almost every day we hear of plants being sold and bought to fill out a product portfolio or trim a strategic direction. The plant closings of the past are a distant memory as new NA investments are announced almost daily. Cheap energy and cheap LNG feedstocks drive local unit profitability. It all sounds good right? Not entirely …

This drive to financial, asset management of chemical plants in North America has produced an operations driven industry and has quieted or eliminated engineering roles in the decision process. Let me give you an example. We delivered a dynamic simulation system to a greenfield petrochemical plant in the heart of the booming chemical industry in eastern Tennessee. Fueled by a direct pipeline to the Marcellus shale fields, the developers moved two Kellogg ammonia plants and a nitric acid plant from the gulf coast, added a new ammonium nitrate plant and dropped them down on a farmers field almost halfway between Pigeon Forge and Kingsport. This new plant has a total of 60 employees, 40 of which are operators or trades. Account for management, HSE, HR, etc. roles and you get are left with one plant engineer.

The role of the chemical engineer in the operations lead plant of today is challenging. She or he needs to be able to manage projects, understand process control and IT, work effectively with the labor force, and impact the plant or unit P&L. In addition to doing an occasional mass balance, review pinch analysis, and maybe … do work on a dynamic simulator. She or he needs to be a very talented, driven person. Like the three outstanding individuals we are going to recognize tonight.

At MYNAH, our mission is to Reduce the Cost, Risk, and Complexity of Plant Operations. To deliver this value to the process industries, we employ chemical engineers and we will need many more in the future.

The role of the chemical engineering departments in our local universities is essential to equip this next generation of industry leaders. We need these departments to grow and succeed if they are going to supply men and women to be future leaders in our companies.

We are very proud to sponsor the Virtus Dynamica Chemical Engineering Student Award at our three local Chemical Engineering Departments, Missouri S&T, Mizzou, and Wash U. The award goes to the chemical engineering student with the highest overall GPA as a senior in each universities program, hence the Virtus, latin for excellence. Dynamica because MYNAH is a provider of dynamic simulation technology and we work in a very dynamic, exciting industry.

The recipients for the award in 2017 are:

  • Christine Lucky, Washington University in St. Louis,
  • Nicholas Cole, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Mathias Whitworth, Missouri University of Science and Technology

On behalf of MYNAH Technologies, we want to thank AIChE for allowing us to sponsor this award and congratulate our three recipients for 2017.

I look forward to your comments, questions, or suggestions.

Hope to hear from you soon.

Mart Berutti, 04/13/17