The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has honored Alumni Distinguished Professor Y.A. Liu with the 2020 Excellence in Process Development Research Award. 

AIChE is the leading global organization for chemical engineering professionals, with more than 72,000 members in over 110 countries. Sponsored by Pfizer, the research award recognizes Liu for his contributions to research, teaching, and industrial training to advance sustainable process development and product design, and for his methodologies for simulation, optimization, and parameter estimation, as well as intelligent design to accelerate process development.

“Professor Liu’s contributions are not limited to research," said Thomas N. Williams, a senior engineering program manager at Honeywell Process Solutions who worked closely with Virginia Tech from 1995 through 2008 on process development research. "He has distinguished himself by publishing a substantial body of knowledge of practical applications of his process development research in seven groundbreaking textbooks. These are considered standards of practice, and they continue to assist generations of new chemical engineers."

Lawrence B. Evans, an MIT professor and a past president of AIChE has known Liu for more than 35 years and nominated him for the award. “Professor Liu has set an amazing standard of dedication and tireless work to advance broadly in the use of rigorous modeling and optimization to accelerate the development of sustainable chemical processes," Evans said. "He has been prolific in publishing research and authoring of books. He has provided the creativity to identify important new problems and develop innovative methods to teach others how to solve them.”

Since 1974, Liu has taught more than 3,000 graduating seniors the tools of process system engineering and life-cycle costing to prepare them for future careers in process development and product design. He has demonstrated global leadership as the founder and an instructor of the SINOPEC and PetroChina (2019 FORTUNE global top two and four companies) Simulation Training Centers in Beijing, supported by Aspen Technology and Virginia Tech since 1997, to promote energy/water savings, and sustainable process design and development. 

Liu and the instructors he's trained have taught more than 7,500 engineers in the U.S., China and Taiwan. His demonstrated excellence and effective blend of research, teaching and outreach to industries has been recognized by an Outstanding Faculty Award from Virginia’s Governor, a U. S. Professors of the Year award, and a National Friendship Award from China’s Premier.

Alongside Liu, his Ph.D. student Niket Sharma has received the 2020 AIChE Process Development Student Paper Award, sponsored by the Linde Group. Sharma’s winning paper, "An Effective Methodology for Kinetic Parameter Estimation for Modeling Commercial Polyolefin Processes from Plant Data Using Efficient Simulation Software Tools," was published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research in 2019.

Written by Tina Russell