Stevens AIChE hosts Scholarship Award Dinner for North Jersey Section

Stevens and NJIT have at times been considered rival institutions, but the American Institute of Chemical Engineers chapter at Stevens welcomed its NJIT counterpart this past Tuesday for the annual Scholarship Award Dinner for the North Jersey Section. Stevens and NJIT are the two primary schools represented by the North Jersey section and both AIChE chapters have worked closely over the past several years. The evening focused on not only on exceptional academic achievement, but also the fraternity that exists between Stevens and NJIT AIChE.

During the 1970s, the North Jersey Section established scholarship funds for the outstanding chemical engineering students from the Stevens and NJIT chapters of AIChE. Over the subsequent years the number of scholarships has increased for each school. Peter Sibilski, one of the directors of the North Jersey Section and advisor of the Stevens AIChE chapter, explained that recipients are nominated by their advisors and are verified via an application process.

As guests arrived to the event, they were mandated to take name tags that had halves of famous pairs, such as Adam and Eve, Lois Lane and Clark Kent, and even Batman and Robin. Sibilski told guests that the purpose of the “harmless icebreaker” was to force the different institutions to intermingle.

Dinner was served, and after plates were cleared, Sibilski asked the famous couples to introduce “their other halves” to the others. Each individual introduced his or her famous counterpart and the icebreaker lightened the mood just before the award presentation commenced.

Following the icebreaker, Kate Gawel took the podium to begin the “Step Away from the Job Board” Award Presentation. As a member of AIChE from her freshman year at Penn State, Gawel spoke of the importance of networking: “The key is not searching the job board, but networking. I consider it career insurance.” Gawel believes that it is because of her experiences in AIChE and the connections she’s made along the way that has propelled her to where she is now, a product commercialization manager at Mondelez Food.

Gawel handed the mic over to Al Arnofsky, one of the directors of the North Jersey AIChE section. Arnofsky reverberated Gawel’s stress of networking: “You never know who you’re going to meet on the way up, or down.” He considers networking a “way of life” and understands AIChE to open many doors for chemical engineering students.

Secretary of the North Jersey Section Bob Rossi was then welcomed to speak in front of the guests. Rossi has been in the chemical engineering industry for many years, and stressed that students attend technical conferences and “stay up to date on industrial trends.”

Representatives from the AIChE Headquarters were also in attendance. Stephanie Viola gave a brief presentation about the AIChE Foundation, which was created to “support the advancement of the chemical engineering profession.” She provided statistics regarding the foundation, and how this year’s endowment has increased by 24% since 2013. She explained that the money raised by the foundation is funneled directly to the student chapters, in various forms such as scholarships, grants, and outreach programs.

Dr. Angelo Perna, Director of Chemical, Biological, and Pharmaceutical Engineering at NJIT, rose to the podium and added some light humor to the evening: “I look at every school other than NJIT as a competitor, but I guess I should thank Stevens for hosting this event tonight.”

Perna then announced the NJIT scholarship award recipients. Five awards were presented: the Oden S. Knight and Ralph Cohen Award to Julian Sulse; the Otto York Award to Steven Vincent; the Stanley S. Grossel Award to Louis Carreiro; the Outstanding Chemical Engineering Senior to Yohana Garcia; and the Robert M. Brown Memorial Scholarship Award to Monica Torralba.

Sibilski concluded the evening with the presentation of scholarships to Stevens students. Palash Mehta, president of the Stevens AIChE chapter, received the Lee A. Parker Award, and Vice-president Vincent Raimondi was awarded the John Anderson Award. Jason Robbins earned the Herb M. Fried Award and Janice Frontera was the recipient of the Walter Schnyder Award.

The evening proved to highlight the mutualistic relationship between Stevens and NJIT AIChE. Alan Rempel, president-elect for Stevens AIChE, commented “We work very closely with NJIT. We’ve received great advice from their team leaders for the Chem-E car project and we always make a point to fraternize at the AIChE conference.”

The NJIT and Stevens award recipients gathered for a group photo before dispersing to their respective campuses. The North Jersey Section AIChE Awards dinner will be hosted by NJIT next year.