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Challenges Facing Professional Societies: Sustainability Moving Forward

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Role of Professional Societies

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.296.1 - 9.296.6

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Paper Authors

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Dianne Dorland

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2443

Professional Society Challenges: Sustainability Moving Forward Dianne Dorland Rowan University

Professional societies face many challenges in today’s market. Some challenges are ongoing, such as attracting and retaining members, offering appropriate services, conferences, meetings, and products all while managing efficient and cost-effective operations. Other challenges are driven by changing professional needs, new markets and emerging technologies. In chemical engineering, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers identified a series of factors that impacted our ability to function as a professional society. They were a flat to declining membership, declining attendance at major meetings, struggling local section activity, dramatic changes in employment demographics for chemical engineers and the continued negative public image of chemical industry. In consultation with leaders in industry and academia, these critical issues were identified: changing nature of chemical engineering, globalization and industry consolidation, education pipeline and relevancy, and the importance of sustainable development.

AIChE recognized that we must change to meet future needs of chemical engineers and the organizations they serve. For example, we recognized the broader nature of technologies enhanced by chemical engineering, biotechnology, nanotechnology, electronics and information development or delivery. We need to take an active role in redefining the education pipeline, especially an enhanced awareness of science and math in K through 12, as well as a broadening of the chemical engineering undergraduate curriculum. We must look to redefining the goals of industry and their responsibilities to society, that is, sustainable development, while we continue to support the core industries and knowledge base of chemical engineering.

If we define “Industry” as where we work, “Technology” as how we work, “Education” as how we teach/learn, and “Society” as how we behave/develop, we can readily present AIChE’s historic role as a professional society in Figure 1. Chemical engineering knowledge was disseminated educationally through a core curriculum, we served a chemical and energy focused industry with core technology in process engineering, and our principal societal impact was through environmental health and safety.

However, we recognize the changing role and application of chemical engineering in a global scope along with the relative maturity and commoditization of the chemical process industry. This leads us to accommodate a refined educational pipeline and curriculum as well as new process applications in emerging technology areas. An expanded role for chemical engineering is presented in Figure 2. Biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and electronics have moved significantly into our industrial world, process engineering has expanded to the molecular level, societal impact must also address sustainability and the educational path has broadened both technically as well as in ethics and business.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Dorland, D. (2004, June), Challenges Facing Professional Societies: Sustainability Moving Forward Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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