Catherine Masoud, Bill Wheatle Named TAs of the Year; Joe Costandy Wins Paper of the Year

Catherine Masoud in a classroomCatherine Masoud and Bill Wheatle have jointly won TA of the Year and will each be awarded the Paige H. and J. Jeff Weidner Endowed Presidential Fellowship in Chemical Engineering for their outstanding work in the past year.

Catherine was the TA for CHE 348, Numerical Methods with Dr. Lea Hildebrandt Ruiz for both Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. “As an undergrad, I really struggled with Numerical Methods,” Catherine shared. “But I think this actually made me a better TA for the class. I was really able to work through the material with the students.”

“In a way, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Catherine was selected for this award,” said Dr. Hildebrandt-Ruiz. “Her dedication to the course and the students was clear throughout both semesters and was deeply appreciated by the students and myself.”

Bill Wheathle writes an equation on a whiteboardBill Wheatle was the TA for CHE 381N, Fluid, Flow, and Heat Transfer with Dr. Venkat Ganesan in Fall of 2018. Bill shared that early in the semester, he would overprepare, putting countless hours into materials and office hours before finding what effectively resonated with his students.

“Bill put in a significant amount of extra time,” commented Dr. Ganesan. “He was very receptive to student questions and suggestions.”

“Ultimately,” said Bill, “I just really like teaching; it motivates me to work hard so my students can succeed.”

Fellow graduate student Joe Costandy has been awarded the Graduate Student Paper of the Year Award and the Dr. Robert Schechter Endowed Excellence Fund in Chemical Engineering. His paper, “Switching from Batch to Continuous Reactors Is a Trajectory Optimization Problem”  was co-authored with Drs. Thomas F. Edgar, and Michael Baldea and published this spring in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, an ACS publication.

Joe Costandy in a classroomJoe’s research attempted to answer an age-old question: when and how can a set of reactions that are typically carried out in a batch reactor be carried out in a continuous reaction system?

“Previous answers in the literature either detailed case studies focusing on particular reactions or provided qualitative frameworks that discuss the transition in terms of empirical criteria; neither offering a general and quantitative solution,” said Baldea, Joe’s faculty advisor and co-author on the paper.

“Joe noted mathematical similarities in the trajectories of reactants in batch and continuous reaction systems and used that insight to define concrete metrics to identify and optimize a potential continuous flow system for a given batch reactor system,” Baldea explained. “It’s an extremely elegant solution to a longstanding problem.”

Congratulations to these outstanding graduate students. Grad students Bill, Catherine, and Joe group photo outside

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