CU Boulder’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (ChBE) has experienced a growth of student enrollment of approximately 75 percent since 2007, making it one of the top 10 largest chemical engineering departments in the nation on the basis of student enrollment. This growth brings exciting opportunities but also significant challenges.
With another 50 percent growth in student enrollment expected by 2020, the department has enlisted the help of an External Advisory Board (EAB) to form a ChBE community that links alumni, current students, faculty, and staff for the mutual benefit of all.
The advisory board currently includes chemical and biological engineering alumni from both the undergraduate and graduate programs who are now in leadership positions in companies spanning energy to pharmaceuticals. Board members (pictured l-r) Jeremy Kolenbrander, Alexandra Gold, Bart Carpenter, T. Scott Martin, Theresa Scholz, Lale Lovell, Joe Poshuta, John Blakney and Anthony Han, along with previous board members, have generously contributed their time, unique skills, and perspectives to a variety of collaborative pursuits with faculty and staff.
During its 2013 meetings, the External Advisory Board critically considered the challenges faced by the department and concluded that the strong and active CU and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering community represented an incredibly powerful, but largely untapped opportunity for students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Working together, the board and faculty developed an overall vision and plan to connect these constituents in a continuing partnership to support both the professional success of students and the long-term improvement of the department.
To achieve this community-oriented objective, strategies were developed involving student support, fundraising and alumni engagement.
One initiative proposed by the board was the creation of an Alumni Student Mentoring Program (ASMP) to both support students and engage alumni; the department has more than 75 alumni mentors already signed up with the program and is currently working on pair these mentors with students. >>Learn more and sign up to become a mentor!
“The EAB considers the mentoring program to be a fundamental part of the department’s formation of young chemical and biological engineers,” says Scholz. “Through investing in the students in a personal and individual way, we hope to instill in them a sense of connection to and pride in their alma mater.”
Another goal of the ASMP is to impress upon students a sense of professionalism that will complement academic training to make our graduates even more successful in their chosen professions.
Another proposal of the board was the founding of the 1904 Society. This society, named to commemorate the initial launch of the Chemical Engineering degree at CU, seeks to promote the interests of our community of students, alumni, faculty, and staff by supporting the department financially. This support will be essential in helping the department recruit, recognize, and retain outstanding students, faculty, and staff; provide and maintain world-class facilities for training and research; and forge deep and enduring connections between members of the community. The 1904 Society will be launched in the near future.
Additional strategic components include a student peer mentoring program, an increased social media presence, improved participation opportunities, increased visibility of achievements, extension of our alumni network, and an endowed chair campaign.
With the department already implementing many of their recommended strategies, the Executive Advisory Board will remain actively involved in evaluating their success, as well as helping develop and drive future initiatives.