March 7, 1985. The date when the University of the Philippines Board of Regents approved the institution of the BS Chemical Engineering curriculum (general option) in UPLB. The UPLB Chemical Engineering Department (DChE), through the guidance of the DChE Socials and External Affairs Committee, held three major activities to commemorate its 37th anniversary. Each activity aimed to highlight the sharing of intellect, camaraderie, and recognition of its constituents.

DChE Webinar Series

UPLB DChE, in partnership with the UPLB Society of Chemical Engineering Students (UPLB SChemES), hosted a webinar series composed of four sessions with an umbrella theme, “Paradigm Shift for a Future-Proofed Chemical Engineering Education”. The event was well received and participated by students, professors and even professionals within and outside the university. The webinars were held on March 10, 14, 18, 22 and 28, 2022.

The first session was titled “Perspectives from DChE, UPLB: History and Experiences”. Dr. Jovita M. Movillon opened the session with her topic “Tracing Roots from the Roaring 20s” where she talked about the department’s history. It was then followed by the topic “Implementation of DChE Curricular Program” where Dr. Monet Concepcion M. Detras discussed the challenges faced by the department due to (1) changing the curriculum in response to the K-12 basic education implementation and (2) the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The session was concluded by Dr. Rex B. Demafelis’ talk about “Experiences and Opportunities for Alternative Thesis Research” where he presented different simulation-based research of MS ChE students as alternatives to traditional research that require wet experiments which were not possible due to existing health protocols.

The second session titled “Exploring Alternatives for Chemical Engineering Students in the New Normal” now focused on computer-based research being conducted in other universities. Dr. Michael Angelo B. Promentilla’s talk titled “Thinking in Systems: Why it matters now more than ever to Chemical Engineering students?”, discussed an overview of Process System Engineering (PSE). It was then supplemented by Dr. Michael Francis D. Benjamin’s topic “P-graph Methodology and Applications,” where he explained a specific procedure of PSE called P-graph methodology. The topic about PSE was concluded by Dr. Beatriz A. Belmonte in her talk “Mathematical Programming Approaches to Chemical Engineering Research” in which she illustrated different PSE tools and models for process synthesis. Another alternative for new normal research was discussed by Dr. Jhalique Jane R. Fojas. Her topic on “Chemical Engineering in Translational Medicine” explained the roles of chemical engineering students in translational medicine.

The third session, “Simulation-Based Research Tools in Chemical Engineering,” centered on how simulation softwares can be applied to chemical engineering research. Dr. Remil M. Aguda shared his knowledge on using applications to mixing thermodynamics in his topic “Group Contribution Modeling of Solutions of Small Molecules and Macromolecules”. This was followed by the topic “Interface Between Experiment and Techno-economic Analysis” of Dr. Mariefel V. Olarte. She described the use of renewable liquids and how Techno-economic analysis is applied to research. Engr. Stephen S. Doliente ended this session with the topic “Supply Chains – Beyond the chemical process plants” where he discussed optimization through research technology networks and its application to the supply chain of rice in the Philippines.

The final installment of the webinar series revolved around topics discussing “Digital Advancements in the Industry”. The first talk was delivered by Engr. Marvin Manalo with the topic “Physical Effects Modelling – Application to Plant Design” wherein he discussed modeling of the physical effects of hazards. The next topic “Simplifying the Transition to the Digital Age for Water and Wastewater,” co-presented by Mr. Douglas John Broughton (CEO, Irvine Environmental) and Engr. Maria Geosanna Kho, centered on the application of data management in wastewater treatment. Also related to the environment, the topic “Liability Data Management using Environmental Quality Information System (EQuIS)” saw Engr. Donald Roy Grospe explaining the use of EQuIS in environmental data management systems. The session was concluded by Engr. Arnel Cabuncal where he presented how ChE internship was conducted virtually amidst the pandemic in the talk titled “A Virtual ChE Internship Experience in 2021.”

The wide variety of topics covered in the webinar series showed that both academia and industry can adapt and rise to the situation brought upon by the pandemic and the continuous rise of technology. With all the discussions presented, one can say that “digitalization” is the “new normal.”

ChElympics 2022

UPLB DChE, in partnership with the UP Alliance of Chemical Engineering Students (AChES), conducted an online sports event, ChElympics 2022. This event aimed to bring together the faculty, staff, and students where they can showcase their talents and skills in different games and fun-filled activities.

Four houses competed in this year’s sports fest that saw each house exert tremendous efforts and preparation to secure the coveted championship. The houses were named after their chosen colors and qualities: Red ChEllengers, which consisted of Batch 2018 and older; Green ChEmpions of Batch 2019; Blue ConChErors of Batch 2020; and Black CompeChEtives of Batch 2021. Team leaders for each team (Engr. CJ Nunez, Ms. Filipina Obligado, Dr. RC Eusebio and Asst. Prof. Gino Guerrero), along with student representatives, were tasked to lead and help the team strategize for the different online and offline events.

The games were subdivided into three main parts: Offline events, House games, and Battle arena games. The offline events were composed of the Virtual Fun Run and the Tiktok contest. The virtual fun run encouraged everyone to participate in walking and/or running activities to promote a healthy lifestyle. Every house crafted a TikTok video which unleashed the creativity and hidden talents of each house member participant, at the same time acting as a conduit for student, faculty, and staff interaction.

While building camaraderie, sportsmanship, and resilience, the houses also competed and participated in the House games (Tetris, Skribbl, Scrabble, Modified Quiz Con, Family Feud and Pinoy Henyo). The participants manifested their logical and intellectual skills in pursuit of achieving victory. On the other hand, determination, teamwork, and strategy were evinced as the houses engaged and competed in the Battle arena games: Valorant and Mobile Legends.

Prior to announcing the overall winners, minor awards were given to the houses that exhibited vigor, discipline, and leadership. The “Most Energetic Award” was given to the Red ChEllengers. Meanwhile, the “Most Disciplined Award” was granted to the Blue ConChErors. while the Green ChEmpions bagged the “Leadership Award.”

During the culminating activity, Dr. Mike Laurio, Social and External Affairs Committee Head, emphasized the fun side of the faculty, staff, and students and the call to perform this activity again beyond the current setup. “We got to know the skills and creativity of everyone. So probably, we can still be thankful that despite the current situation, the current setup has enabled us to still get connected in the events. However, let us not stay comfortable with the current setup. I bet that everyone is excited and already looking forward to the time when we can have ChElympics face-to-face.”

By showing unmatched determination and perseverance, the Green ChEmpions prevailed in this year’s ChElympics and were pronounced as the Champion, garnering a total of 1095 points. They were followed by the Red ChEllengers, Blue ConChErors, and Black CompeChEtives, which placed first runner-up, second runner-up, and third runner-up, respectively.

This event, held from March 11 until March 25, were spearheaded by Asst. Prof. Merwin Magboo and Dr. Mike Laurio, with UP AChES President Mr. Ervin Gandicela and Public Relations Officer (External) Mr. Jan Isaac.

DChE Awarding Ceremony

To close the month-long anniversary celebration, UPLB DChE recognized and awarded five of its constituents (alumni and student) who demonstrated exemplary work in their respective fields. The Student Affairs and Awards Committee combed through the credentials of the different nominees to determine the winners to the following categories: Outstanding Alumni (Academe), Outstanding Alumni (Research), Outstanding Alumni (Industry), Outstanding Alumni (Public Service) and Outstanding Student. The awarding ceremony was held last April 7, 2022 via zoom.

Dr. Michael Angelo B. Promentilla, a former DChE faculty, was the Outstanding Alumni Awardee for Academe as exemplified by his selfless mentoring of his junior faculty and students at De La Salle University (DLSU). Aside from teaching chemical engineering, he is also the head of the Waste and Resource Management Unit of the Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development Research (CESDR). According to Dr. Promentilla, “being an academic in the Philippines is a path less travelled due to its many challenges, disappointments, and frustrations. But there are also fullfilling rewards, especially if you learn that your former students are doing well in their chosen careers.” To date, Dr. Promentilla already has more than 153 referred publications under his belt and continues to bring honor to the academe through his participation in different research and development opportunities like “Green Mining,” and “NexCities,” among others.

The Outstanding Alumni Awardee for Research was given to Dr. Ronald R. Navarro who had conducted many research studies on a wide variety of topics namely the physico-chemical and biological methods of treating domestic and industrial wastes, synthesis of adsorbents and flocculants for heavy metal removal, treatment of anoxic and contaminated soil communities and microbial analysis of activated sludge by gene sequencing, to name a few. Dr. Navarro has also been involved in the research and operations of various wastewater treatment projects in the Philippines. He has shared his technical knowledge and skills through his numerous technical and scientific publications (> 53 referred journal articles, 1 book paper, 2 patents and 41 conference papers). Just like Dr. Promentilla, Sir Ronald is also a former faculty of DChE. Dr. Navarro mentioned during the awarding ceremony that “despite the variety of the research topics that I covered, I am proud to say that I was directly involved in the conduct of the experiments, and I was able to generate a couple of publications from each of these topics. This level of research output is very clear testament to the versatility of our Chemical Engineering profession. I am proud to say that Chemical Engineering has allowed me to cope with the challenges during the entirety of my research career.”

Our third awardee, this time as Outstanding Alumni for the Industry Sector, is Engr. Albert A. Samuela. Aside from being a Marketing Leader in one of Ecolab’s industrial business divisions in Southeast Asia, he is also a certified Black Belt practitioner of the Lean Six Sigma Methodology at Ecolab. He has been continuously invited as resource speaker in the field of industrial water management due to his more than a decade of experience in the water industry. He is also part of the Water Alliance in the Philippines where he remains to be one of its active leaders. He held different positions in both local and national chapters of the Philippine Institute of Chemical Engineers (PIChE). His numerous achievements and contributions to the field of Chemical Engineering paved the way for him to be conferred the title of “Asean Engineer” in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2018. According to Engr. Samuela, “this award means so much to me because (1) it affirms that I am in the right track, (2) it inspires me to continue to strive to be a better version of myself and (3) it reminds me of my roots and humble beginnings at the Department of Chemical Engineering. I hope that others become aware that everyone has a responsibility to develop and strive for excellence and that socially – aware professionals are always needed to help in nation building.”

The last alumni award is very special since this honor the selfless contribution and un-ending dedication of Engr. Cherrys O. Abrigo to the underserved communities located in different parts of the Philippine archipelago. As the 2022 Outstanding Alumni Awardee for Public Service, Engr. Abrigo has continuously uplifted the socio-economic and environmental conditions of the indigenous farming communities in Sierra Madre, Cordilleras, Mindoro, Abra, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Albay and Compostela Valley. She is the one responsible for establishing the first zero-waste store/café in Los Baños which also opened a branch in Quezon City. Aside from this, she also established the Sierreza Agri Products Trading which aimed to promote a stable and fair-trade market for different farmers produce. Her latest project is the Sierreza Mobile Store which sells organic fruits and vegetables in Brgy. Putho Tuntungin wherein she uses part of the earnings to setup community pantries. According to Engr. Abrigo, “I may not have publications or other technical awards/accomplishments to show you, since I mostly did community service, but since Chemical Engineering is very versatile, I’m really proud tell you that even in community service, there are many applications of Chem Eng’g. I want to challenge chemical engineers to think outside the box. We can help a lot of people if we can explore outside our boxes. We are already equipped with technical knowledge. Let us apply this knowledge to help our countrymen.”

The last award for this year is the Outstanding Student Award which was given to Mr. Joshua Enrique Ignacio due to his exceptional achievements as a DChE student. He has learned to balance his academic and non-academic activities to ensure that his general weighted average (GWA) will not be negatively affected. He has more than three years of experience as a student leader and member of numerous volunteer groups. He actively offers his assistance in relevant outreach programs like the Alternative Learning System (ALS) in Laguna. His speech during the awarding ceremony showcased his advocacy when he encouraged the Chemical Engineering community to take part in nation building and always consider the lives of the future generations when developing or processing anything.

by: Asst. Prof. Mart Merwin Magboo, Engr. Ruen Rey Sazon and Asst. Prof. Marilyn del Barrio