Share This Page

Chemical engineers might spend $8.5M in Pittsburgh

| Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, 11:04 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
The convention floor at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers's annual meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown on Monday. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Guy Marin, the chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Technical Chemistry at Ghent University and Director of the Laboratory for Chemical Technology, presents his lecture 'Chemical Engineering and Kinetics: a Pas de Deux of Theory and Experiment,' at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers's annual meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown on Monday. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
People listen to Guy Marin, the chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Technical Chemistry at Ghent University and Director of the Laboratory for Chemical Technology, presenting his lecture 'Chemical Engineering and Kinetics: a Pas de Deux of Theory and Experiment,' at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers's annual meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown on Monday. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
Jason Mick, of Wayne State University in Rochester, MI., is silhouetted near a Pittsburgh booth at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers's annual meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown on Monday. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

The world's premier conference for chemical engineers could generate $8.5 million in spending, according to VisitPittsburgh, despite a wet and windy welcome.

“If it comes in at that, it will be one of our biggest conferences of the year,” said Craig Davis, CEO of the tourism bureau.

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers' annual meeting began Sunday and continues through Friday. Organizers expect it to draw more than 6,000 people to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown. More might have come had Hurricane Sandy not hit.

“The storm is impacting us,” said Jeffrey Wood, meetings director for the New York City-based organization, which has more than 40,000 members in 90 countries. “Some people can't get here.”

Airlines canceled nearly 10,000 flights and Amtrak scrapped East Coast service on Monday because of the hurricane.

The conference drew 5,750 people in Minneapolis last year and Philadelphia in 2008, organizers said.

“The fact that with a hurricane we still have a shot at the record is good,” Davis said.

Attendees will concentrate on clean energy technology, and they'll cover a wide-ranging list of topics during more than 800 breakout sessions — a record number that likely contributed to the high turnout, Wood said.

“I'd like to think Pittsburgh had a part in it, because it now has a great reputation,” said Wood, who organized 15 of the group's annual meetings and said he would not have considered Pittsburgh until visiting several years ago. “I was very impressed with it. I took it back and said we're coming here.”

The institute last met in Pittsburgh about 100 years ago, about the time the group was founded in 1908, Wood said.

The city has earned a reputation as an energy center — a draw for chemical engineers, said the group's marketing director, Tim McCreight.

“And on a national level, energy policy and energy is bigger than ever,” he said.

Ahmed Ismail, 35, and six other graduate students on Sunday drove to Pittsburgh from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. The decision to drive was a nod to the weather and finances.

Ismail had just one complaint after two days: too many sessions happening at once.

“It can be very frustrating,” said Ismail, a New Jersey native who works in Aachen, Germany. “But it's a good sign. It means there are lots of people doing work you want to see.”

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.