Engineering alumnus William Liechty (BSE 2007 chemical engineering), associate research scientist at Dow Chemical Co., is receiving the AIChE 35 Under 35 Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineering.

AIChE and the Young Professionals Committee (YPC), with support from the AIChE Foundation, are recognizing Liechty and 34 other outstanding young professional AIChE members with the award because they have made significant contributions to the Institute and to the chemical engineering profession.

The award was created to acknowledge the successes of some of AIChE’s youngest members, all under the age of 35, and to promote the achievements of this generation of chemical engineers who are changing the face of the profession. The winners exemplify the best our profession has to offer and represent the full breadth of early ChE career paths. Each award winner was selected for their achievements in one of seven categories: bioengineering, chemicals, education, energy, innovation, leadership, and safety.

Working on research projects during his undergraduate career put Liechty on the front line of innovation, and he hasn't left yet. Now, associate research scientist in the food, pharmaceutical, and medical business at Dow, he is focusing on commercializing cellulose-based polymers with novel size and shape combinations and ensuring a robust supply of innovation projects.

“It is immensely satisfying and rewarding to help something go from the lab to a viable commercial technology,” Liechty said. He added that the ultimate focus is the customer, and he strives to help people accomplish things “safer, better, faster, cheaper, or even totally differently than they could have imagined.”

Research and innovation requires curiosity and a love of learning, and Liechty credits teachers for instilling this in him. He admires educators of all types, from his mother, a veteran elementary teacher, to the professors he conducted research with. He describes a love of learning as “the greatest gift that one can receive.”

The awardees will be highlighted on the ChEnected blog and on AIChE’s social media outlets with the hashtag #AIChE35Under35. An awards reception at the 2017 AIChE Annual Meeting October 29-November 3 in Minneapolis, MN will also celebrate the winners.