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Chemical engineers from around the region will soon come to Knoxville as UT plays host to the 2017 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Southern Regional Conference.

Organizers expect almost 400 students, representing universities from across the southeast and Puerto Rico, to come to Knoxville for the two-day event on March 31 and April 1.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring together chemical engineering students from around our area to share ideas and friendly competition and to network,” said Mary McBride, a senior majoring in chemical engineering in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering.

“We have a lot of good things planned that will help us accomplish those goals.”

One of the highlights of the conference is the Chem-E-Car Competition.

For that event, student teams design small cars that can be powered only by chemical reactions and must be capable of carrying a specified load over an exact distance.

Teams from each region get pared down until regional finalists advance to the national meeting—much like college basketball teams in March Madness, making that competition’s usage of Thompson-Boling Arena all the more fitting.

“It’s a way to show off knowledge of certain chemical engineering principles while having fun,” said Gabriel Goenaga, senior research associate in UT’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

Other competitions include paper and poster sessions, Chem-E Jeopardy, and a Future’s Career Fair, which helps students get answers pertaining to graduate school and employment.

Students attending the conference will also tour Oak Ridge National Laboratory and learn about some of UT’s key partners and event sponsors such as Eastman, Biologic, and ExxonMobil.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,