Bill Snellman and Rashid Hasan
Last winter, UMD chemical engineering senior, Bill Snellman, presented
a paper at the American Geophysical Union Conference in San Francisco.
His paper “Physics of Fluid Flow in Hierarchical Porous Media”
dealt with contaminant dispersion in different types of soil, and it
was well received. Snellman explained more about his research, “If
there was a catastrophic chemical spill at one spot and you had 100
core samples from the surrounding area, you could use our model to determine
the best way to contain and treat the spill.”
After his presentation at the conference, several other researchers
talked with Snellman about his work. “They wanted to know where
I was planning to do my post-doctoral research work,” he said.
“They were surprised to find out I was doing this research in
an undergraduate program.” Through the help of Tim Holst, associate
dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Snellman attended the
conference with his faculty advisor, Associate Professor Steve Sternberg.
UMD’s chemical engineering program prepared Snellman, not only
to study and take tests, but to do groundbreaking research. The confidence
that Snellman displays is a reflection of the Department of Chemical
Engineering’s success. The program has been ranked in the top
five among undergraduate programs for non-Ph.D. schools in the nation
for the last five years, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Rashid Hasan, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering, said,
“Doing something and reading about it are two different things.
We emphasize real life experience and teamwork.” ChemE students
are encouraged to work with each other, emulating a real-life industry
teamwork situation. A “community design and study lab,”
promotes collaboration of ideas and serves as a help center for students.
In their classes, students receive a set of problems, and during the
week they work together to solve them. When someone finishes the assignment,
they share their approach and insights with others rather than keeping
it to themselves. “One week you’ll get the answer first
and the next week you become the student,” Snellman said. “It’s
a great way to learn.”
Hasan said, “The hands-on approach is a crucial part of the program.
Students plan, execute, analyze, and present research projects. Practicing
all of these aspects sharpens skills beyond those that show through
in a transcript.” The ChemE program encourages students to take
internship in industry for a full semester and the summer. Students
work at companies like Cargill, Atofina Chemical, Murphy Oil, at waste
treatment facilities, and at many of the area paper industries including
Domtar, Sappi, Blandin, and Storenzo.
Chemical Engineering graduates from UMD not only gain the knowledge
and experience they need, but they learn the communication skills and
the teamwork that industry demands. These are the factors that make
up their success and lead to the national ranking UMD is so proud of..
Posted Nov 22, 2004