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Washington State University
The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Distinguished Professor Becomes AIChE Fellow

Yong Wang
Yong Wang

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University Voiland Distinguished Professor Yong Wang was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in May, just a couple months after being named a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

Wang’s major advisor Bill Thomson nominated him for the honor.

“When working with Yong I mostly brought him the resources he needed, and then just tried to stay out of the way. He surpassed me quickly and now is probably one of the most notable catalyst researchers in the world,” Thomson said.

Wang received his master’s and doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering from WSU’s Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. His research focuses mainly on the development of novel catalytic materials and reaction engineering for the conversion of fossil and biomass feedstocks to fuels and chemicals.

Wang holds a joint appointment with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as well, where he is a Laboratory Fellow and Associate Director of PNNL’s Institute for Integrated Catalysis. He was named the PNNL Inventor of the Year twice. His research on energy and renewable fuels is known around the world and has led him to publish 165 peer-reviewed articles, hold 86 issued U.S. patents, and earn several awards, including three prestigious R&D 100 awards. The Chinese Institute of Engineers named him the 2006 Asian American Engineer of the Year and he is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

The AIChE is a professional society with more than 45,000 members from more than 90 countries. According to the AIChE website, members are eligible to become fellows when they have significant chemical engineering practice (generally 25 years), and have made distinctive professional accomplishments and contributions. Wang will be presented with his honor at the upcoming AIChE meeting in November 2013 in San Francisco, California.

Find this news release at WSU News online at

WSU Scholars Get National Boren Scholarship, Alternate Designation for 2013–14

Monica Bomber
Monica Bomber

PULLMAN, Wash.— Chinese major John Stark is Washington State University’s newest Boren Scholar to receive federal funding to study a foreign language abroad, and chemical engineering student Monica Bomber has been named a Boren alternate.

With his Boren funding, Stark, a senior, will further his mastery of Mandarin to fulfill his passion for language and prepare him “to be valuable to the U.S. in areas of defense and diplomacy.” Bomber, a sophomore, would use Boren support to study Swahili in class and throughout an internship, intent on learning to design cost-effective water purification plants in East Africa. Both are members of the Honors College at WSU.

Boren Scholarships provide up to $20,000 to American undergraduate college students to study less-commonly-taught languages in about 90 world regions critical to U.S. interests but underrepresented in study abroad. These include Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Among the nearly 65 preferred languages are Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Swahili. For 2013–14, 161 of 947 undergraduates applying for Boren Scholarships received the award; in exchange for the funding, recipients agree to work in the federal government for at least one year.

Boren programs are sponsored by the National Security Education Program and named for David L. Boren, principal author of federal legislation that created the program in 1991. A former Democratic governor and state senator from Oklahoma, he was the longest serving chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Intelligence; currently he is president of the University of Oklahoma and co-chair of the nonpartisan U.S. President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.

Stark began his study of Mandarin/Chinese at WSU; Boren support will take him to the International Chinese Language Program at National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan. A graduate of Newport High School in Newport, Wash., he plans to work in the intelligence community.

In her Boren application, Bomber expressed a desire to study Swahili (aka KiSwahili) at the Knowledge Exchange Institute at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. A graduate of Hudson’s Bay High School in Vancouver, she will depart for the Tanzania program in late May, although she may not have a Boren Scholarship or funding in time. The eight-week summer program will be spent half in language and culture classes, and half at an internship with an organization involved in water resources. The experience aligns with her future academic plans in engineering and the Honors College back at WSU.

Creating and protecting sustainable water systems in developing countries is a goal of the U.S. Department of State, says Bomber, who plans to work one day in its Foreign Service sector as an economics officer.

For more information on the Boren and other prestigious scholarships, visit the WSU Distinguished Scholarships website at

CONTACT: Sarah Ann Hones, Distinguished Scholarships Director, University College at WSU, 509-335-8239,

MEDIA: Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, University College at WSU, 509-335-6679,

Chemically Powered Car Wins First in Region

Chemically Powered Car Wins
The winning team, from left: Ryan Daut, Maximilian Worhatch, Ian Van Houten, Les Okonek, a member of the WSU College of Engineering and Architecture executive leadership board, Nicholas Laymon and Devin Ergler.

PULLMAN, Wash. – Chemical engineering students from Washington State University won first place at the regional ChemE Car competition this month in Bozeman, Mont., and will compete at nationals in San Francisco in November.

The idea for the contest was developed by a WSU student group in 2000. The competition is sponsored by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The students, all juniors, are: Ian Van Houten, Bellingham, Wash.; Ryan Daut, Mount Vernon, Wash.; Max Worhatch, Puyallup, Wash.; Devin Ergler, Cle Elum, Wash.; and Nick Laymon, Willamina, Ore.

Chemical calibrations

Competition rules stipulate that the car must run and stop on its own using chemical reactions. The teams learn the distance the car must go and the weight of the load it will carry just an hour before the competition and then have to quickly determine the proper calibration for their car.

Chemically Powered Car Team
(l to r): Maximillian Worhatch, Nicholas Laymon, Devin Ergler, Ian Van Houten, and Ryan Daut with their “Frankencoug”


This year’s WSU team began working together in January to resurrect the car they call “Frankencoug,” since it was made with some of the parts left behind by the last WSU team that competed two years ago.

Consisting of premade parts, such as a large Tupperware container and bright yellow plastic wheels, the team’s car was lighter than the other entries.

“We all found out the day of the competition that the cars had to run on carpet rather than linoleum, and the heavier cars were really affected by that,” Ergler said.

Hydrogen fuel cell

Inside the light framework sits a hydrogen fuel cell that powers the car. A balloon at one end stores the released hydrogen, and a beaker containing a magnesium strip sits on top of the car and acts as the stopping mechanism. When acid is poured into the beaker, the magnesium strip dissolves; once it is dissolved, the car stops.

“It was a great feeling to win because during the week leading up to the competition we were putting in 8-10 hour days to work out some problems,” Worhatch said.

BP donation

A $1,000 donation from BP and access to the Unit Ops lab at WSU helped the team develop the entry. Team advisor and professor Richard Zollars and professors Su Ha and David Thiessen supported the team by answering questions and offering suggestions.

As the students prepare for the national competition, they hope to improve the car’s precision. They also hope to get more underclassmen involved next year so WSU students are regularly entering the competition.

Funds needed for competition

“It is a good way to be involved with chemical engineering outside of the classroom, and it gives us a chance to apply what we’re learning to a real project,” said Daut.

The students are trying to raise money to attend the national competition. For more information on how you can give your support, please contact Don Shearer at 509-335-4733 or

View the article at WSU Today ↗”