Professor Marc Aucoin from the Department of Chemical Engineering is working with Professor Brian Dixon from the Department of Biology and Dr. Kevin Stinson of St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, Ontario, to explore antibody testing as a means to a safer and minimally disruptive return to normalcy as quarantine restrictions are lifted.
During World War II, when countless wounded soldiers required a scarce and expensive medicine, chemical engineers helped solve the problem that had limited its availability. In a triumph of chemical engineering, John McKeen used deep-tank fermentation to scale up production of penicillin, the first modern antibiotic. Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau, another talented chemical engineer, designed the first commercial-scale penicillin plant.
With their contributions to penicillin’s breakthrough, McKeen and Hutchinson Rousseau helped reduce the cost per dose, save thousands of lives and set the course for the industrial-scale production of other lifesaving drugs. As today’s chemical engineers address the many threats associated with COVID-19, will we see chemical engineering triumph again?
When the coronavirus pandemic necessitated the closure of university campuses across Canada, the Department of Chemical Engineering quickly transitioned the last few weeks of classes online so students could finish their term from the safety of home. At the same time, our spring term instructors began adapting their lectures, which would begin in just a few short weeks, for online delivery. Now, with these experiences as a foundation, we are building upon our successes and incorporating the best aspects of remote teaching into our plans for future terms.
On Thursday, April 30th, Chemical Engineering’s faculty and staff came together online with students and their families for the Capstone Awards Ceremony, a unique celebration of the many accomplishments of our fourth-year students. After logging in from home, where they watched the proceedings on their own computer screen, guests enjoyed an awards show to rival the Oscars, with heartfelt speeches, humorous skits and a musical performance.