No. 4, Fall 2019
Director's Message:

A significant part of what I do in "Corporate Engagement" is evangelizing the "new engineering school" here. A lot of people are surprised that the University of Chicago has engineering as a discipline. Once that introduction has been established, I try to find low hanging fruit such as student projects, and instrumentation that is relevant to short term corporate interests (which often revolves around talent recruitment); and then introduce our deeper expertise and goals to build sustainable, two way partnerships - not only with the PME, but inclusive of other parts of campus as well. This "seam-free" feature of collaboration is a feature and is consistent with the PME's approach to research - and this is an attractive feature to industry. I will try to highlight this at the next annual FORUM meeting in the spring of 2020 - Did you enjoy attending the 2019 FORUM back in May? We are planning FORUM 2020 and are incorporating a broader theme with industry and academic talks. Do you have ideas for how to make it more useful for your company? Let me know!

My summer activities were framed by how to move forward with more gusto and creative approaches in corporate-academic interactions. This included networking, and learning through groups such as Speakeasy, Innovation leader, The Executive's Club, the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, The Science and Engineering Industry Expo, The Niles chamber of Commerce, mHUB, getting up the PME Linkedin Group, meetings with Kimberly Clark and Underwriters Laboratory, and now this. The goal has been to connect with decision makers, who don't already know about the PME and to connect them with subject matter experts and talent. This gets easier as the PME grows and offers more options (and also harder to keep track of what everyone is doing!).

In the past year, the PME has grown from 30 to 41 faculty. Some of the new faculty have already started while some are soon to arrive in the next few months. Professor Chibueze Amachukwu is highlighted here. He is an expert on the design, synthesis and characterization of solid and liquid electrolytes in the energy arena. Looking through the faculty list, If their areas of research and expertise intrigue you or seem to align with corporate priorities, let me help make an introduction!

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have!

Felix Lu
Director of Corporate Engagement
The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering
New PME Faculty focus
The mission of the Amanchukwu Lab at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering is to creatively solve energy-related challenges, especially focused on energy storage and electrocatalysis. Within energy storage and electrocatalytic devices, electrolytes are a vital component that support ionic and molecular transport. The Amanchukwu Lab is focused on the design and synthesis of novel electrolyte media (solid state and liquid), and the study of electrolyte instability and ionic transport phenomena for applications in batteries and electrocatalysis.

Chibueze Amanchukwu is a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago.

He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Texas A&M University as the department’s Outstanding Graduating Student, and his PhD in chemical engineering from MIT.

As a postdoctoral fellow with Zhenan Bao at Stanford University, he developed new small molecule electrolytes that decoupled ionic conductivity from electrochemical instability for lithium metal batteries. His research has been recognized with awards from the American Chemical Society (Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research) and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (Session’s Best Paper).
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Visit from the Director of the IL Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Erin Guthrie. Shown are Peter Duda, Erin Guthrie, and Felix Lu outside the Pritzker Nano Fabrication Facility.
On August 29th, we were visited by the acting director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), Erin Guthrie. She was presented with a brief overview of the PME and toured the Soft Matter Characterization Facility, and the Pritzker NanoFabrication Facility (PNF). As she is in touch with many business leaders, her voice will be helpful as we grow and have deeper and broader interactions with the high technology and manufacturing companies in the area.

Erin Guthrie will serve as Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Guthrie most recently served as the regional general manager for Uber Midwest in Chicago where she partnered with cities and regulators to create safe, positive experiences for customers and residents. From 2013 to 2017, she was a client engagement manager and partnership portfolio manager at McKinsey & Company in Chicago. Previously, Guthrie worked as a product manager MBA intern at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, as an account executive at 4INFO and as a business development manager at Nokia in San Francisco. She received her MBA from the University of Michigan Stephen M. Ross School of Business and Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Stanford University. Erin lives in Wicker Park with her husband and son.
Industry Expo 2019 - Sept 6, 2019
Dr. Stehen Klopcic of Intel presents at the 2019 Science and Industry Expo. This is a recruiting event for PhD students and postdocs. UChicago GRAD facilitated more than 90 one on one interviews between companies and prospective employees. Interested in participating next year? Let me help you make a connection!
Dr. Briana Konnick, Associate Director of Graduate Student Career Development
Interested in recruiting Graduate students? Join us for the Fall 2019 Industry Expo - limited space as only about 15 companies are invited!

For companies, internships provide needed labor for lingering tasks that are often pushed aside during a busy production schedule. Interns may, for example, be able to automate tasks that are unnecessarily cumbersome. CPI companies are also able to assess interns as possible candidates for long-term employment. Internships take effort on both sides to be productive, but the overall benefit for students and companies is immeasurable and can be a win-win relationship.

“At Booth more and more students are interested in sustainability, climate change, use of natural resources, and the world around us,” said Caroline Grossman, ’03, director of programs at the Rustandy Center and adjunct assistant professor of strategy. “That interest was the impetus for creating the Rustandy Center’s sustainability executive in residence role—so Karen Weigert can challenge Booth students to grapple with issues plaguing our planet, and to better understand where and how the business world can plug in to help.”
Graduate Student Internships

Are you looking for interns with a highly developed laboratory and/or computational skill set? We are encouraging our 3rd and 4th year PhD students who are curious about industrial positions to seek out internships with companies. Companies can help by providing contact points and a description of the position. Please send any questions or solicitations to Felix .
Additionally, companies that are actively working with faculty can discuss getting NSF funding for graduate student internships by applying for it through the normal faculty led proposals.

This is one way UChicago and PME "walk the walk" of being inherently transdisciplinary - that is, have the holistic result be much more that the sum of the parts - is this participation in the Collaboratorium!
The Collaboratorium unites UChicago students with researchers, technologists, and faculty who want to explore the commercialization opportunities and business applications of their work.

A great opportunity for Booth students, other graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and faculty to connect, the program includes an opportunity for scientists and researchers to pitch as well as network with students about their cutting-edge research and technologies.
Articles of interest to our corporate affiliates, but not associated with the University of Chicago

Finding a suitable partner for a collaboration is a notoriously challenging and time-consuming task. It requires companies to constantly monitor emerging technological trends and to identify partners with capabilities that match their needs . Mobile scientists can be a valuable asset in this search, as they know the technological skills and needs of both their former and their new employer. If they see a match, they can speed up the process of initiating discussions.

Mobile scientists can also help firms assess the capabilities of their competitors. This is one reason why companies are afraid of knowledge misappropriation and resort to contractual agreements or legal threats to limit employee mobility. But this overly cautious approach can prevent firms from taking advantage of opportunities. It can be beneficial for competitors to know what capabilities you have.

The chemical industry is poised to be an early beneficiary of the vastly expanded modeling and computational capabilities of quantum computing. Companies must act now to capture the benefits.

The principal reason chemical companies could be early adopters this time is that the level of performance needed from a quantum computer to undertake computations that could benefit chemical companies is a moderate one. A report recently coauthored by BASF and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology extrapolated the number of logical qubits needed to simulate chemical processes such as the seminal Haber-Bosch ammonia process to roughly 1,000 qubits.  In contrast, extrapolations for a typical RSA encryption application (such as the factorization of a 1,024-bit prime number) suggest a resource requirement of about 1.5 million qubits.

Many corporations aspire to find innovative solutions to society’s problems. Motivated by a growing sense of social responsibility and profit potential, these companies view social and ecological problems as opportunities to develop new products, services, and markets. The problem is that most corporations fail to achieve innovations that have both business and societal payoffs.

One reason for this is that corporate social innovators—the (typically) mid-level employees who drive the development of new products, services, and business models that combine profit and impact—face significant organizational challenges. Drawing on our combined experiences of leading social innovation, and more than 150 interviews with senior and mid-level managers at seven large multinational corporations, we’ve found that corporate social innovators in large multinational corporations face three distinct dilemmas:

Public - Private collaboration stimulates innovation to bolster U.W. Competitiveness, Security

“Technology transfer is an essential component of our mission at DOE, helping ensure we deliver the maximum return on the investment of the American taxpayer, said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “Through the Technology Commercialization Fund, we are connecting entrepreneurs in the private sector with researchers at our National Labs to help deliver the innovations and technologies that will keep our nation secure, competitive, and energy abundant.”

The idea has been around for over 100 years but the field didn’t really take off until the 1970s, when the first oil crisis caused oil prices to rocket, Reisner says. ‘When the oil price dropped again, activities slowed down very significantly. Then, around 10–15 years ago, the field started to grow very quickly and has now gained substantial momentum.’
‘Today, it’s a very diverse field,’ agrees Durrant. ‘There are almost as many materials studied and device concepts as there are people working in the field.’ No devices yet operate on an industrial scale, but those that are closest are all sequential technologies.

Electrocatalysis, able to split water and produce fuel in a single step, has potential here. ‘There are two ways of doing artificial photosynthesis, you can either reduce protons to hydrogen and then use that hydrogen to reduce carbon dioxide, or alternatively use the electrons to directly reduce carbon dioxide,’ explains Durrant. The ultimate goal is integrated devices, where sunlight is captured, water split and fuel produced in a single step. The related field of photoelectrocatalysis is the likely contender to enable this.
"The current method is not effective in communicating research findings. For instance, in my field, we all want improvements in our life: vaccines for all diseases, easier delivery of vaccines, innovative way to finance vaccines, effective ways tackling vaccine hesitancy," Suharlim says.

"Experts are all coming to these conferences, and they have limited time to update their knowledge."
Morrison is now working on experiments to study the effect of different poster designs. He wants to track people's eyes to see whether they are more likely to read a simple poster and wants to see whether they actually absorb and retain more information from less-crowded posters.
In the meantime, he did what any scientist would do. He created a poster about his new poster.

"In the middle, it just says, 'This poster could communicate findings more quickly,' " says Morrison.

And he presented it at this psychology conference — at a poster session.

Ammonia—one nitrogen atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms—may not seem like an ideal fuel: The chemical, used in household cleaners, smells foul and is toxic. But its energy density by volume is nearly double that of liquid hydrogen—its primary competitor as a green alternative fuel—and it is easier to ship and distribute. "You can store it, ship it, burn it, and convert it back into hydrogen and nitrogen," says Tim Hughes, an energy storage researcher with manufacturing giant Siemens in Oxford, U.K. "In many ways, it's ideal."
With the highest solve rate in the industry, our multidisciplinary teams of hand-picked experts develop solutions to your technical challenges, and are awarded on a pay-for-success basis. Find out how we can work together to get your problem solved.
To gather data for this report, we surveyed 187 corporates and 86 startups and conducted a bottom-up analysis of 570 companies in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We also interviewed more than 30 leaders in the startup ecosystem, including venture capital and private equity investors, startup founders, and executives at public and privately owned companies.

They described a complex collaboration landscape in which a company can choose from among various types of innovation vehicles, depending on the company’s size, goals, and expertise. We also identified a number of steps that companies can take to improve their likelihood of achieving long-term success, despite the unique challenges involved in these collaborations. Given the pace of innovation and the huge potential benefits at stake, it is critical for both sides to redouble their efforts to make these relationships work after the initial infatuation has faded.
Different ways to explore interactions with the PME:
  • senior design projects
  • internships
  • materials characterization /device fabrication facilities
  • participation in FORUM events
  • consulting activities
  • Ask Felix!
Parking on campus
You are welcome to park for free on certain streets if you can find it. The closest parking lot to the Eckhardt Research Center is the North parking lot.