Chemical Engineering has contributed to the development of product
and processes in many areas of great socioeconomic impact, such
as the chemical, food and pharmaceutical industries, as well
as in key areas of infrastructure such as energy, water and
pollution control. On the eve of the 21st century, we are witnessing
several changes at the political and economic levels, with renewed
and critical social demands, and therefore, new challenges.
In a world of increasing interdependency,
regional economic blocks and global problems, international
cooperation is an important instrument for improving the educational
system and the economy of nations. In particular, North-South
cooperation has been reinforced with the establishment of
programs in many scientific national funding agencies. For
South American countries where industrialization has been
relatively recent, chemical engineering research has increased
in importance, coverage and quality, as industry-university
partnerships are becoming more established. Furthermore, the
size of the chemical and process industry and its impact on
the economy of North and South America has become very significant.
It was, therefore, felt opportune that a workshop involving
US and South American scientists be organized to examine and
propose ways of significantly enhancing cooperation in research
CEPAC (Chemical Engineering Pan-American
Collaboration) was created to stimulate sustainable collaboration
between the Pan-American countries in the field of Chemical
Opportunities that motivate CEPAC:
- South America
is an area of significant growth with great capital investment
by the US chemical, petroleum, food, mineral and manufacturing
industries. This economic interest will grow further as
we move into the 21st century.
- The increase of trade within the Mercosur
countries establishes a good environment for joint programs.
The inclusion of Venezuela, Peru and the USA on these programs
could be a seed for ALCA implementation.
- There are cultural links and English
is a common language among chemical engineers both in academia
and industry. Likewise Spanish is becoming an important
cultural factor and it is a common second language taught
at high school level in the US.
- In South America there is a long history
of education in Chemical Engineering and most Departments
have faculty with advanced degrees (many from the US) that
are active in research. There are several research centers
with state of the art facilities and skilful professionals
that conduct research of the same caliber than in similar
international institutions (process systems, catalysis,
biotechnology, computer science, fine chemicals, minerals,
- There are industrial research centers
that have developed novel native processes in response to
the local needs.
- There are also well established funding
agencies and mechanisms for funding research both academic
as well as for R&D (CNPq, CONICET, CONYCIT, FINEP, NSF,
- Establish a steering committee (consisting
of the members of the organizing committee) to provide CEPAC
with a sustainable organization that will guarantee permanence
in their activities
- Disseminate CEPAC activities undertaken
by publicizing the workshop and the conclusions (in professional
magazines, such as C&EN). Also the development of web
pages that include information and links of universities
and researchers from North and South America who are active
in Chemical Engineering.
- Create awareness in the community of
supplements that can be petitioned to the National Science
Foundation to initiate support of short visits by graduate
students, in both ways.
- Couple CEPAC events with others scientific
events already planned. For example, the possibility of
US participation in the Mercosur Process Engineering in
Florianópolis (Brazil) in October 1999.
- Plan meetings for 1999, including three
topical workshops on separations/interfacial phenomena,
environmentally benign processes and chemical engineering
Benefits for Pan American Collaboration
- Strengthening the ties between the US
and South America will accelerate North-South economic growth.
- Joint collaborations will help to enhance
cultural links and understanding among participants.
- Increasing the number of researchers
participating in collaborative programs from South America
in the US will provide the skilled personnel to conduct
research both in the US and in South America. These researchers,
when returning to academia, will benefit the local industry
by training skilled professional needed to sustain their
operation and grow and by creating new knowledge.
- The participation of US researchers in
collaborative projects in South America will increase the
awareness of the research capabilities existing in South
America. Collaborations will help to solve problems of common
scientific and technological interest (e.g. environmental
problems). It can also create awareness about problems that
might not be well known in the US.
- Collaborations can reduce the cost of
research (50% for ACEP) by sharing facilities and experimental
techniques and computational resources and skills that can
be complementary to research programs both in the US and