PAST PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
With the chapter on year 2017 closing, I begin this communication by conveying my very Best
Wishes to you and your families for a Happy and Productive New Year. Also, my compliments
go to the new Council of IIChE and the newly elected office bearers. I wish every success to
Prof. Vinay K. Srivastava, who takes over the mantle of Presidentship from me. As far as IIChE
is concerned, the year just gone by was particularly special to me as President of the Institute.
Before I take leave of you as the IIChE President, I believe the occasion is ideal to take stock of
what the Institute could achieve during the last one year. Simultaneously, I would also like to
share with you some of my expectations for the year ahead.
CHEMCON 2017 has just been successfully organised at Haldia by Haldia Regional Centre of
IIChE during 27 – 30 December in association with two academic departments of Haldia
Institute of Technology. The central theme for this CHEMCON was ‘Versatility of Chemical
Engineering to Meet Societal Changes’. As customary, CHEMCON 2017 was packed with
events, such as, Memorial Lectures, CHEMCON Distinguished Speaker Lectures, plenary
lectures, Dhirubhai Ambani commemoration, Joint Symposium (Indo-Canada), Interactive
Sessions, etc. The three most prestigious Lectures, i.e., Dr. H.L. Roy Memorial Lecture, Prof.
N.R. Kamath Memorial Lecture and C.K. Murthy Memorial Lecture, were delivered respectively
by Dr. Asoke Deysarkar, Chairman and CEO, PfP Industries, Houston, USA; by Professor
Sadhan C. Jana Chair, Department of Polymer Engineering, University of Akron, USA; and by
Shrimati Sheela Deputy Chief Executive (Z & SM), Nuclear Fuel Complex, Hyderabad. On 28
December 2017, the Dhirubhai Ambani Commemoration oration was delivered by Prof. Baldev
Raj, Director, NIAS, Bengaluru on the theme of ‘Energy Sustainability in India: Challenges and
Opportunities’. With profound grief, I inform our Members about sudden demise of Prof. Baldev
Raj on 6 January 2018. I convey my heartfelt condolence to the members of his family.
During the last one year, notwithstanding inadequacies, IIChE was able to accomplish a few long
pending tasks. Moreover, a degree of momentum was gained which will help undertake a few
other important projects this year.
A major digitisation drive was undertaken by IIChE in 2017. The process of digitization is a lengthy one and complex as well. Already certain vital segments of the Institute’s functions involving membership portfolio and annual election process have been fully digitised. The focus has now shifted to get the entire office work, including AMIIChE Examination process, computerized.
R&D Vision 2030 was also introduced last year with an R&D corpus of Rs. 5 lakh. Certain core areas have been shortlisted for offering research grants to eligible candidates for working in these areas. This is just a beginning. The scope will get bigger and better as it evolves step by step.
The Institute has also initiated a process of preparing a Directory of research projects, being carried out by the Chemical Engineering faculty members in different academic institutions across the country. It is an arduous task and a long-drawn process, which has to be pursued tenaciously. Our Members’ help on this account will be utterly welcomed.
In this connection, I wish to draw our Members’ attention to another important task. Back in December 2016, an important task of putting together a data bank of the Under Graduate Chemical Engineering students got under way. Although some progress has been made in a piecemeal manner, the process has to be expedited notably this year.
The year 2017 saw some of the most productive and enlightening seminars being organised by the Institute headquarters in Kolkata and certain other Regional Centres on issues of high relevance, such as, Water Management, Dry Cooling Systems in Power Plants, Refineries, Fertiliser Plants, CO2 Mitigation, Project Managements, Process Safety Management, etc. What is very encouraging is the fact that instead of being a mere exercise in theoretical knowledge, these seminars came up with concrete and practical knowledge inputs, which were valuable for practising engineers and faculty members. One is hopeful that such programmes will be held in 2018 as well by the headquarters and many other Regional Centres.
In order to enhance employability of technical graduates in India, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Engineering Council of India (ECI) entered into an agreement last year for introducing an internship programme for fresh engineering graduates. As a Member Association of ECI, IIChE has been entrusted with the responsibility of facilitating execution of this programme in the field of Chemical Engineering. Although a formidable process, the Institute is looking into the nitty-gritty of its implementation.
As far as IIChE Membership is concerned, 2017 proved to be one of the most successful years with a record number of organizations and chemical engineering professionals as well as students joining the IIChE family. The Institute launched a special membership drive during the year, which fructified positively in course of time. As many as 13 academic institutes and industrial concerns became Organisational Members of IIChE in 2017 and 438 chemical engineering professionals became Corporate Members. They are the mainstay of IIChE without whose support and involvement, the Institute would lose much of its rationale of existence. Hence, there should be a persistent effort for bringing in more members, particularly organizations, under the umbrella of the Institute as Organisational Members.
The Institute became conspicuously proactive in recent past in networking with other professional institutes in India and abroad. In 2017, the ongoing MoU with the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) was renewed and a new agreement was signed with Canadian Society for Chemical Engineering (CSChE). This domain is expansive. The more IIChE focuses on networking and collaborations, the more will it be visible at the larger national and international forums. While its existing associations and involvements with FICCI, ECI, etc., have to be further widened in different directions, the Institute needs to explore newer grounds of collaborations with CII, OTAI, etc.
I have just touched upon a few areas where IIChE was able to make headway to an extent during the last one year. The process is ongoing and we cannot afford to lose the momentum. For the year ahead, personally I believe that the Council should be attentive to the following aspects:
Six Sigma program that deals with enhancement of skill, efficiency and development of leadership quality in manufacturing and service sector should be an area of priority for IIChE. Although the spade work is already underway, the Program should be initiated as soon as possible. Some of the major Regional Centres could make the beginning, which would gradually be taken up by other RCs.
Another area of priority should be Certification of ‘Competent Chemical Engineers’. Such Certification will offer a stamp of recognition for one’s competence as a Chemical Engineer, thereby enhancing his/her career prospects in India and abroad. Presently, guidelines for the purpose are being finalized. Hopefully, it will be formally introduced later this year.
Chemical engineers in India have long been aggrieved due to non-inclusion of Chemical Engineering as a subject from curriculum of IES examination. The Institute has initiated communication with UPSC, stressing introduction of the subject in the IES examination and also seeking recruitment of chemical engineers in Central Government Organisations. There should be consistent campaign on the part of IIChE so that this long felt demand of chemical engineering fraternity is heeded.
IIChE has also started advocating with the Ministry of Human Resources for consideration of the Institute Fellows at par with that of other professional organizations. This is another agenda which should be pursued resolutely with the concerned Ministry.
The IIChE Headquarters (HQ) building has been in need of major renovation and repairing work although repairing work on contingency basis was carried out periodically. A major repairing work has begun recently and is continuing. Related to this is another priority area – that of rationalization of energy use in the HQ building. Although the need for such step has been felt for the last few years, it was deferred as it requires heavy initial investment. However, this year one feels that it should be high up on the agenda considering that in the long run it will significantly help in economizing the cost of maintenance.
I look forward to the new Council coming up with newer ideas and launching novel initiatives which will take IIChE to newer heights.
Prof. P De