Chemical Engineering Track Returns to Engineering Summer Academy

Students observe a liquid nitrogen ice cream demonstration led by chemical engineering graduate students Kayla Foley, left, and David Chem.
Mohit Shrestha

Students observe a liquid nitrogen ice cream demonstration led by chemical engineering graduate students Kayla Foley, left, and David Chem.

Liquid nitrogen poured into a mix of cream and sugar, and high school students participating in the chemical engineering (ChemE) track of the Engineering Summer Academy gathered and rapidly brought out their phones — just as eager to capture the reaction as they were for a cold treat on a hot day at the end of July. 

This lab demonstration-come-ice cream social capped off a successful week introducing students to the principles and applications of chemical engineering. Twenty-one high school students from across Arkansas and a few surrounding states participated in the ChemE summer engineering camp alongside faculty, staff and graduate students in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering. The week included an introduction to chemical engineering as a major and career, lab safety training, a visit to the experimental wind tunnel at the Chemical Hazards Research Center, and activities studying polymers, nanoparticles and more. 

The ChemE track was led by Jacob Monroe, assistant professor in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering.  

"This was an incredible team effort that brought together the unique experiences, knowledge and expertise of more than 30 chemical engineering students, faculty and staff members. Everyone pitched in to showcase the diversity of career paths and research opportunities in chemical engineering," said Monroe. "What really made this work, though, was the great group of high school students. We hope they had as much fun as we did!" 

The office of summer programs in the College of Engineering hosts the Engineering Summer Academy. Participants are rising sophomore to senior high school students who stay overnight in University Housing residence halls, adding an introduction to the college experience to their engineering activities. In 2023, the Engineering Summer Academy offered four interdisciplinary tracks: Living Systems, Machine Learning, Non-Living Systems and ChemE. 

In addition to Monroe, chemical engineering professors Ed Clausen, Karthik Nayani, Will Richardson, Tom Spicer, Heather Walker and Keisha Bishop Walters organized different sessions of the ChemE track. Safety coordinator Tammy Lutz-Rechtin led participants through training in chemical process safety analysis. Graduate students and postdoctoral students in the department also contributed to facilitating activities.  

"The ChemE summer engineering camp provides an impactful outreach experience to engage and develop a new generation of chemical engineers to tackle the challenges of tomorrow," said Walters, department head and professor of chemical engineering. "This is a program we plan to continue as we hope it can inspire everyone involved." 

About the Department of Chemical Engineering: Chemical engineering has been a part of the University of Arkansas curriculum since 1903. Today, the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering has an enrollment of over 300 students in its undergraduate and graduate degree programs and houses five endowed chairs and eight endowed professorships to support its faculty. Faculty expertise includes cellular engineering, chemical process safety, advanced materials, and membrane separations. A wide range of fundamental and applied research is conducted in the areas of energy, health, sustainability and computational chemical engineering. The department is also home to the Chemical Hazards Research Center and is one of three national sites for the Membrane Science, Engineering, & Technology (MAST) Center. The Department of Chemical Engineering is named for alumnus Ralph E. Martin (B.S.Ch.E.'58, M.S.Ch.E.'60) in recognition of his 2005 endowment gift.


Jennifer P. Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering


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