Foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers, gasoline – just to name a few. Once you understand the concepts, you can create pretty much anything.

Jeff Csernica

When Professor Jeff Csernica, chemical engineering, left graduate school and began looking for a teaching position he knew Bucknell was the right fit for him. "Everything here, from the infrastructure to the mindset is geared toward our students," he explains.

And now, over 20 years later, he never looks back. He says interacting with students is the best part of his job and he still delights in teaching materials science courses to all types of engineering students. Csernica points out that it really doesn't matter if you're an electrical, chemical or biomedical engineering major, the concepts he teaches are broad enough to apply to any number of disciplines-and for that matter, industries.

"Foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers, gasoline – just to name a few," he says. "Once you understand the concepts, you can create pretty much anything."

Because real challenges, deadlines and deliverables are what he knows his students will face after graduation, Csernica makes sure their senior projects involve something that's sure to provide them with an invaluable experience: real clients. Projects have come from all over the nation. Local manufacturing companies, Playworld Systems and Resilite Sports Products, the world's leading provider of wrestling mats, have participated, as has Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.

Csernica says one thing that makes a partnership with Bucknell particularly attractive to these organizations is that his students have access to, and are well trained on, the latest equipment. "Normally, these companies would have to contract an independent laboratory," he explains. "But we have everything we need right here."

A tour of the labs confirms it – three floors containing everything from ion exchange and distillation columns to spray driers used to create powders and furnaces capable of melting metal. There's even a room designed on the scale of a large manufacturing facility because, as Csernica explains, the true challenge for chemical engineers comes when they are given large quantities to work with.

It's one thing to create something in a beaker and quite another to make it happen in something the size of an elevator, he says. The rooms devoted to materials testing are especially impressive. Rows upon rows of equipment are ready to challenge all manner of substances. "With any two of these units you could prepare a Ph.D. thesis," Csernica explains. "But all this is here for undergraduates."

Posted September 16, 2013