Chemical engineering students rise to the AVEVA design challenge

Two students who developed a new method to produce Benzene have won the North American section of the 2020 AVEVA Design Academic Competition.

(Image: Image by SatyaPrem from Pixabay)

The competition was open to chemical engineering students in EMEA and North America keen to challenge themselves using AVEVA Process Simulation software.

Students were judged on criteria including the quality, completeness and correctness of their final report, as well as their process engineering and simulation work.


Students were asked to convert their projects to dynamic models that represented how an industrial plant reacts to changes in inputs. They were also challenged to develop and implement troubleshooting measures, possibly including a new controller design.

North American winners Nicholas Haynes and Brian Leonard won with their use of fundamental chemical engineering principles to produce 99 per cent pure Benzene, a cleaner version of the hydrocarbon used in the manufacturing of several materials and plastics.

Nicholas and Brian successfully employed an optimization approach that displayed the understanding of the cost implications of the entire process while also prioritizing the purity requirements for the Benzene product. They also displayed outstanding technical writing skills that are required of graduating engineers entering the industry and furnished a high-quality report that would meet the standards of a professional engineering organization.

European winner Laura Fender was recognized for her simulation requirements working in a neat and well-organized flowsheet. She experimented with the software by approaching the model writing functionality, showing deep understanding of how a simulation problem with different levels of complexity can be approached.

Mihaela Hahne, Global Program Manager, Academic at AVEVA, said: “AVEVA’s 2020 academic competition has been designed to tackle the most important requirements for each graduate student, ensuring that they’re thoroughly prepared for a career in the industry.

“Moving from theory to practice by accessing the leading engineering software in AVEVA Process Simulation, equips students for success in the future workplace. It’s so encouraging to see such immense talent out there in this field, congratulations to all winners and participants.”

This year’s winners and runners up were:


First place and €3,000 cash prize – Laura Fender, Mannheim University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Runner-up and €1,500 cash prize – Matthias Michel, TU Dortmund University, Germany

North America:

First place and $3,000 cash prize – Team West Virginia University(Nicholas Haynes, Brian Leonard)

Runner-up and $1,500 cash prize – Team 2 California State Polytechnic, California (Maria Arrechea, Shereef Elbarbary, Jake Goodman)

For more information about the 2020 AVEVA Design Academic Competition or to enter future competitions, click here.