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Background of the Pan-American Workshop
The workshop was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in August 2-5, 1998, with the local support of CNPq, FINEP, COPPE/UFRJ (Brazil) in cooperation with NSF (USA), CONICET (Argentina) and CONICYT (Chile).

Workshop organization
The national coordinators for the Workshop on Pan American Collaboration in Chemical Engineering that took place at the Marina Palace Hotel in Rio on August 3-5, 1998, were Esteban Brignole (Argentina); Claudio Habert and Willibaldo Schmidell Netto (Brazil); Juan Asenjo (Chile); Ignacio Grossmann (USA).

The coordinators were in charge of selecting participants in coordination with the designated panel and working group co-chairs, seeking support from their national funding agency for the travel of their country representatives to the workshop, and in all aspects related to the program.

The main objectives of this workshop were:

  • Stimulate sustainable collaboration between the Pan-American countries in the field of Chemical Engineering.
  • Identify innovative collaborative approaches.
  • Identify frontier research areas of common interest that can foster and focus cooperative research projects.
  • Identify methods of chemical engineering education for future needs.
  • Improve dissemination of chemical engineering information.
  • Recommend innovative approaches for industry-university collaboration.

The workshop focused on five topical areas:

  • Separations
  • Thermodynamics and Interfacial Science
  • Catalysis and Reaction Engineering
  • Process Systems Engineering
  • Biotechnology

The following themes provided an appropriate background for each one of the four topical areas:

  • Energy
  • Chemical processing
  • Environment
  • Food Technology
  • Renewable resources
  • Mineral and Materials Processing

Participants and activities

About 59 participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and USA, including observers from Peru, Uruguay and Colombia, and several individuals from industry were invited by the national cooperating agencies. These participants were involved in several activities such as panel presentations and discussions in working groups.

Panels were assembled by a small number of speakers broadly representative of the four topical scientific areas. Participants were assigned to four working groups that will be responsible for addressing and making recommendations on:

  • Technological challenges
  • New methods and mechanisms to enhance cooperation
  • Education
  • Industry involvement
  • Suggestions for follow-up


Conclusions of the Pan-American Workshop
The major conclusions derived form these panel presentations and discussions are:

  • There are a number of collaborations already taking place between US and South American chemical engineering researchers. These include for instance projects in the areas of catalysis, biotechnology and process systems engineering.
  • The level of research cooperation is rather modest, compared to existing programs of South America with European countries.
  • In the area of chemical engineering education there are fewer collaborations and exchanges observed.
  • The following initial areas of research were identified as examples of common interest: Advanced and Critical Materials (includes Minerals); Fuel and Petrochemical Processes; Environmental Protection and Biotechnology, Food and Agricultural Industries.


Recommendations of the Pan-American Workshop
As for mechanisms of collaboration, the four working groups made a number of specific suggestions that include the following:

Significant increase of Joint Research Projects with participation of faculty and students from North and South America that are to be funded jointly by the respective agencies (NSF, CNPq, FINEP, CONICET, CONICYT). These proposals would be evaluated as regular proposals in their respective countries and should meet regional demands as well as exploit multinational expertise.

Supplements to existing research projects in the US and South America that will allow short term visits by graduate students and faculty to exploit research resources that will help to advance and enhance the projects. (These could be known as the IREGS program: International Research Experience for Graduate Students). The supplements would require short proposals that would be handled by the corresponding agency of each country. The use of supplements should significantly reduce the proposal processing time. The supplements could also be used in Argentina and Chile to promote ACEP (Academic Exchange Programs or "split" Ph.D. students).

Joint workshops in areas of mutual interest to promote the exchange of scientific information between US and South American researchers. As part of this initiative, it is recommended that topical scientific meetings that normally take place in the US periodically be held in South American sites.

Short courses that for instance will be taught to groups of graduate students of several countries in South America, or seasonal Advanced schools (higher level courses). Some of these short courses could be taught jointly, especially if they are aimed at industry. Funding for the academic courses would be provided by the local national science agencies

Projects with industrial involvement. The possibility of research participation by US and/or South American companies will be explored, particularly for the joint projects mentioned above, or with other existing programs, such as the NSF GOALI and IUCRC and equivalent CNPq, FINEP and FONDEF (Chile) programs. Aside from the benefit of providing real-world problems, involvement by industry could help science agencies to leverage funding.

Bilateral exchange of students and faculty through a new cooperative program between the Fullbright Program and the national science agencies.

In order to ensure that there is tangible progress on the above initiatives, the workshop proposed evaluation metrics that include:

  • Number of joint projects and supplements;
  • Number of joint publications;
  • Number of visits by US and South American faculty and students between academic partners;
  • Percentage of projects that South American countries have in the proposed CEPAC program from the total number of international programs;
  • Number of short courses taught
  • Number of joint professional meetings.

The steering committee of CEPAC will meet in 1999 to evaluate the progress of the planned actions and stimulate new joint Pan-American Chemical Engineering activities.




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