LEWISBURG — Eight engineering majors from Bucknell University were recognized at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers' Mid-Atlantic regional student conference at Manhattan College.

An estimated 150 students participated in the conference from more than 15 schools in the Mid-Atlantic region, one of nine student regions in the nation.

Bucknell senior Derek Rice earned a third-place finish in the paper competition for his research presentation on "Techniques to Improve the Use of Biomass Fuels used to Provide Heating to the Facilities at the Natchez Trace Greenhouses." His research was conducted with R. Mark Bricka, of the chemical engineering department at Mississippi State University, as part of a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates program there.

"Derek received second place just last year in the same competition category, when Bucknell hosted the 2007 Mid-Atlantic regional conference," said Tim Raymond, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Bucknell and AIChE student chapter adviser.

Bucknell juniors Kim Hassett and Jeff Stein took third place in the poster competition for their research project, "Investigating the Dynamics of Water Within Photo-polymerized Polyethylene Glycol Hydrogels." The students, who were independent-study students this past academic year, were advised by Brandon M. Vogel, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and James Maneval, associate professor of chemical engineering.

Bucknell's team in the Chem-E Car Competition placed second in the poster competition, even though technical difficulties prevented the team from racing its vehicle. Members of the team at the conference were junior and team leader Brian Smith, sophomore Ian Hasson, first-year student Eric Dybeck, senior electrical engineering major Pete Baughman and first-year student Andrew Lowrie.

The team placed first last year in the regionals and fifth in the nation.

"I am continuously impressed by the high-quality research performed by our undergraduate students," Raymond said. "Bucknell students have won or placed four out of the last five years at the regional paper competition and the Chem-E Car team has done exceptionally well in the past three years. I look forward the future successes of our engineering students in both research and competitions."

The Bucknell AIChE student chapter will be co-host of the 2008 AIChE National Student Conference to be held in Philadelphia in November.

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