From a very young age we are often encouraged to dream big and shoot for the stars. For some people, that could mean having a career as an astronaut or even President of the United States, but for one faculty member at the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing, dreaming big always meant becoming a professor.
Bihter Padak, chemical engineering, set her sights on chemical engineering after an interest in chemistry was sparked in high school. Then after attending a chemical reaction engineering course during her undergraduate studies, she decided on her path: combustion kinetics. Padak started teaching at the college in 2012. Over the past few years she has been working to eliminate the environmental impact of electricity generated from fossil fuels, and focusing on emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides and trace metals.
Her work has earned her a spot on the latest American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AlChE) “35 Under 35” list for significant contributions to the chemical engineering profession and she has been featured in Chemical Engineering Progress magazine. She’ll be honored with her peers at AIChE’s annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN, starting October 29.
The award was created to acknowledge the successes of a few impressive professionals all under the age of 35 who are working to change the profession’s image. According to the criteria for the award, Padak exemplifies one of the very best in chemical engineering. She was selected based on her achievements in one of seven categories: bioengineering, chemicals, education, energy, innovation, leadership and safety.
It’s clear that Padak has achieved much at a young age. Now she’s setting her sights even higher. “I’d like to be recognized both nationally and internationally for my contributions to our field,” Padak says.
In addition to research, teaching is also her passion. “The best part of teaching is to see the success of my students; it is very rewarding,” she says.