UA Alumna Laura-Ann Chin Named Young Chemical Engineer of the Year

American Institute of Chemical Engineers recognizes a rising star in chemical engineering for her professional contributions and community service, including efforts to diversify the field.

Laura-Ann Chin, a 2010 College of Engineering alumna who credits the University of Arizona with sparking her passion and launching a rewarding career, has been named the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Delaware Valley section’s 2015 Young Chemical Engineer of the Year.

“The UA has played a pivotal role in laying down a sound foundation when it comes to the technical training, people skills and extra-curricular activities that have shaped my passion for my career in chemical engineering each day,” she said. “The UA has and always will be very close to my heart.”

A Powerhouse in Research and Service

Born in Malaysia and raised in Tucson, Chin was a College of Engineering ambassador, Honors College student, president of the UA Malaysian Student Organization and president of the UA chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the UA, she participated in several research projects on endocrine-disrupting compounds in wastewater and genetic stability of E. coli, and for her senior capstone design project she designed an automated zebrafish-tracking system.

“Laura-Ann always seemed to be involved with 100 things, staying positive even when the workload seemed overwhelming,” said UA Distinguished Professor Paul Blowers of the chemical and environmental engineering department. “I’m not surprised to see that she is receiving this honor, since she never seemed to rest!”

Chin went on to earn a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Villanova University, where she conducted research on biomass conversion and biofuels and received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award. By the time she was 22, she had authored or co-authored articles published in five engineering journals.

For nearly three years, Chin has worked as a process engineer at Jacobs Engineering, a multinational company based in the Philadelphia area. She designs biopharmaceutical facilities for Jacobs’ clients in India, Singapore, Australia, China and the United States.

“I got four job offers out of graduate school -- from Apple, Stryker and Astra Zeneca, in addition to Jacobs,” she said.  “While it was very tempting to work for Apple, it was not an engineering job. So I stuck to my roots and my passion for chemical engineering.”

Chin maintains an awe-inspiring schedule outside work too. In addition to her activities with AIChE, she volunteers for the Society of Women Engineers, Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia and Jacobs’ Women’s Development Network, among other organizations.

The AIChE Delaware Valley section presents one Young Chemical Engineer Award annually to an outstanding professional 35 years of age or younger. One of AIChE’s oldest and its third-largest section, the Delaware Valley group includes 1,400 members from Philadelphia, South Jersey, Delaware and part of Maryland.

AICHE officials will present the 2015 award to Chin at the Union League in Philadelphia on March 17.

“We had a large pool of potential candidates,” said Sue Schultz of the section’s awards committee and a senior global project manager for AstraZeneca. “Laura-Ann Chin was our hands-down vote-getter. She is a gem, and we are honored to have her in our section. She does the University of Arizona proud!”