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CSU Engineering Students Win American Institute of Chemical Engineers Design Competition

First Place Awarded to Best Alternative Method for Manufacturing Influenza Vaccine

A team of Cleveland State University students earned first place in the 2014 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChe) Student Design Competition, a prestigious national contest judged by professional engineers where students devise a solution to a chemical engineering design challenge.

Team members Zakaria Benmerzouga, Jeremy Miller and Andrew Zak took the top prize for devising an alternate method for manufacturing influenza vaccine, which traditionally has relied upon an egg-based method for propagating the virus. The CSU team’s winning entry proposed a more cost-effective cell-based method for manufacturing vaccine with disposable technology.

More than 120 chemical engineering programs around the country were invited to participate in the competition. Teams had only 36 days to complete their submissions, which required a wide range of skills in calculation and evaluation of economic factors and technical data.

Dhananjai Shah, Ph.D., served as faculty advisor to the CSU student team, whose members graduated from CSU’s Washkewicz College of Engineering in May 2014 with bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering. Benmerzouga and Zak are currently pursuing master’s degrees in chemical engineering at CSU. Miller is a process engineer at Saint-Gobain Crystals in Hiram, Ohio.

The team will accept its award, which includes a cash prize, and give a presentation at the AIChe Annual Student Conference, set for November 14-18 in Atlanta.