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CBE Seminar Series and Founders’ Day Lecturer: R. (Sarathy) Parthasarathy

October 17, 2023 @ 4:00 PM 5:00 PM

Reception: 3:30 – 4:00 pm, Cheney Room
Seminar: 4:00 – 5:00 pm, 1610 Engineering Hall

Sarathy (R. Parthasarathy)
Chairman & Managing Director
Thirumalai Chemicals Limited

What Should be the Role of Chemical Engineers?

There has grown a large gap between what chemical engineer students need in industry and what they learn and receive from their undergraduate or even the graduate program. Not just for working in manufacturing jobs where it is seriously inadequate, but also for careers & roles in process development, design & engineering and industrial research. Even research in industry seems to have very little to do with the pure & very advanced theoretical learning that we focus at a graduate level. Unless of course the student is going to be faculty at a university level or focus on basic research.

When industry absorbs graduates, we very often have to re-train them extensively. Of course there are certain roles such as catalyst development, industrial pharma research and so on where our structure of education as a chemical engineer/Biotechnology does prepare us, but not in the large spectrum of other industries.

How then can universities and industries work together to bridge this gap?

I am going to talk about a case study of an industrial research and process development project we did in my company, where we engineered, built and operated a medium scale plant.

This involved fermentation, cell immobilization along with Matryx development, catalytic synthesis, bio transformation and purification with a very modern membrane process. Then we designed, engineered the plant and put it into operation. It worked!

How much did my education and that of my colleagues prepare us for all this ?

It gave me a broad understanding of chemical engineering, but I wish, all through those 5 years, that I learned more pilot plant work, process design and plant engineering and optimization.

I will detail out this journey.

1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706 United States