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Going the Extra Mile for Chemical Engineering

Pete Cosgrove, senior chemical engineer and president of the University of Missouri student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), poses with AlChE Conference attendees and winners of the ChemE Car competition on April 3.

Opportunities for educational and personal growth outside the classroom are readily available on the University of Missouri campus and while some students do not actively seek them, others jump at the chance. Peter Cosgrove took the leap.

A senior in chemical engineering and president of the University of Missouri student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), Cosgrove spearheaded plans for organization’s 2009 Mid-America Regional Conference, held April 3-4 at Mizzou.

He began planning for the conference a year in advance. The location changes every year and is usually determined 2-3 years prior to the conference date. “We attended the regional conference last April in Nebraska and attended meetings there on how to run a conference,” Cosgrove said.

After the introductory information presented at the 2008 conference, Cosgrove and his team began their long-term planning which involved selecting and reserving hotels, fundraising, advertising, selecting speakers, and extending invitations to the 12 universities in the Mid-America region.

In addition to the ChemE car and paper competitions, the conference featured four speakers, a banquet and a keynote address by Jaime Jurado, director of brewing operations at the Bambrinus Company Breweries based in San Antonio, Tex. This year, 21 ChemE car teams competed and 14 chemical engineering students presented undergraduate research in the paper competition.

“Things turned out better than I could have hoped. We had no problems and everything ran smoothly,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove said he felt inspired to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase the Chemical Engineering Department at Mizzou.

“Down the road people will say that Mizzou’s Engineering School is really great because they actively saw what our department is doing. I’m glad to be a part of that,” Cosgrove said.

Cosgrove is a member of Engineering Ambassadors, participates on the Mizzou Engineering Student Council and is a student representative on the Career Services Council. He will graduate in May 2010, and has plans to attend law school. He recently received the Benton Scholarship.

Because of his service and involvement, Cosgrove was selected as one of three students invited to attend a private faculty discussion with T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of BP Capital Management and creator of the Pickens Plan. Pickens was the keynote speaker at the April 22 Missouri Energy Summit held on the MU campus.

“He is certainly someone I respect. We talked about environmental research and alternative energy, which is what I am interested in. It was a great experience,” Cosgrove said.