President’s Corner | 2018
Chemical Engineering for Society and the Future Scope
Welcome to The Society of Chemical Engineers (SCEJ) website. SCEJ has entered its 82nd year, and I am honored to be appointed as a Chairman for the 2018 and 2019 terms. Under former Chairmen Sugawara and Fujiwara, there was a strong push toward the reorganization and promotion of “Vision 2023” ( implementation plans), and as the vice chairman during those terms, I supported those efforts. Now, as Chairman, I feel that an essential part of my responsibility is to continue advancing toward the same goals by shifting from planning to execution.
In thinking about the future of chemical engineering, the fostering of chemical engineering talent is imperative. However, in recent years, securing junctures for education in chemical engineering has proven difficult. Nationwide, the number of chemical engineering courses at universities has been decreasing incrementally. The smaller, regional universities with only one or two courses bemoan their inability to offer comprehensive curriculums in chemical engineering. Likewise, researchers in the field of chemical engineering who
have recently begun to achieve successes in other areas and interdisciplinary fields are concerned and skeptical about whether advanced research in those fields are conducive to conveying “chemical engineering approaches”. Such limited opportunities and time constraints demand the exploration of new methods for imparting “chemical engineering approaches” and producing chemical engineers. One solution may be to extract a fundamental chemical engineering approach and create a textbook teaching “Problem Solving Methodology”.
Chemical engineers are not only making great strides in the process / system design and control / optimization of petrochemical plants, but they are also expanding into the development of new products and the creation of social systems. It is imperative that the subject matter of textbooks utilizing the above way of thinking and approaches of chemical engineering incorporate not only the design of conventional chemical industry plants, but also espouse the themes of product design or device design, and product design, device design, and lobal environment, community / social system designs based upon technology assessment. Such examples will effectuate the understanding and utilization of “problem solving methodology”.
The need to contemplate the rebuilding of “chemical engineering as practical science” is engendered by talk that chemical engineering research has been drifting away from industry and society. Therefore, it is important that the already established “Working Group on Social Implement Engineering, Society of Chemical Engineers, Japan” be further expanded. Together with the development of new process technologies, it is critical that we draw up an approach that simultaneously evaluates the economic and other impacts and effects on society, as well as provide a future vision for the society, then backcast and engage in activities pertinent to that future. It is my hope that when the “provision of junctures” and the above-mentioned “foundations of education” are linked with the nurturing of chemical engineering talent, we can devise a future in which chemical engineering coexists with and contributes to society.
In order to bolster the future of chemical engineering, we need to explore a central theme, and reconstruct chemical engineering into a leader of society. Today, the world is chaotic and undergoing such great changes that it seems almost impossible to see the shape of the future, or even what issues need to be resolved. Nonetheless, at such times, it is important to take an active part in the creation of a vision for society and explore the central theme for chemical engineering in the years to come because it is such endeavors that will take the helm of future society and forge chemical engineering into a great contributor to society. We hope to hold such discussions with all of you through avenues such as the SCEJ Vision Forum already being held.
At junctures where such an enhanced chemical engineering is to be created, it is important to have fresh and diverse new insights. In addition to gender equality, the SCEJ must purposefully incorporate governmental, industrial and youth participation, as well as outside perspectives. For those matters that SCEJ cannot administer to alone, though cooperation with overseas chemical engineers is an obvious course of action, collaborative and concerted efforts with academic societies from other fields will also prove invaluable. Further, joining forces with the Science Council of Japan (of which approximately 20 members and cooperating members have been involved from this term), Japan Chemical Industry Association, Japan Association for Chemical Innovation, Japan Union of Chemical Science and Technology, the government, the media, and other agents, will induce greater activity, development and dissemination of resolutions.
Together with SCEJ members, I would like to contribute to society and industry, and build an inspiring future SCEJ.