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Alumnus Earns Second Place in National Chemical Engineering Design Contest

Monday, November 8, 2010

A highly decorated recent University of Kansas School of Engineering graduate has received another prestigious national award.

Brandon DeKosky, a spring 2010 graduate in chemical engineering from Overland Park, recently earned second place in the 2010 American Institute of Chemical Engineers senior design competition.

DeKosky was recognized for his design of a manufacturing facility to produce anti-cancer antibodies. He will receive the award in a ceremony Nov. 7 in Salt Lake City.

In March, DeKosky was one of 15 students in the nation to receive a $250,000 fellowship from the Hertz Foundation. It provided funding for DeKosky to pursue his graduate studies in the research area of his choosing. He’s now in his first year as a doctoral student at the University of Texas-Austin, where he conducts protein engineering research. He also received a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. 

“It’s always great to be recognized at any level,” DeKosky said. “These national awards also highlight the tremendous efforts of KU professors in educating their students both inside and outside of the classroom, as these successes can be attributed directly to concepts I learned in the labs and classrooms at the KU School of Engineering.”

The latest honor for DeKosky continues a long history of success for KU in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers senior design competition.

“We are extremely proud of Brandon’s latest accomplishment,” said Stuart Bell, dean of the School of Engineering. “He embodies what our students can achieve through dedication and hard work. He’s poised to do great things in his career. KU’s history of success in this competition is also worthy of praise. Faculty in the School of Engineering ensure KU remains a leader in preparing our students to tackle the challenges of tomorrow and find creative, practical solutions. And we’re pleased to see industry and academic leaders take note.”

The 2010 senior design competition challenged students to design a manufacturing facility to produce anti-cancer antibodies. DeKosky designed a system to grow cells that secrete a small protein with therapeutic effects, then separate and purify it for final packaging and storage. DeKosky also had to design plant support systems like heating, cooling, water purification, safety and environmental impact mitigation systems, perform cost estimates and an economic analysis and try to ensure the design followed Food and Drug Administration guidelines for pharmaceutical manufacturing.

Students have one month to complete the work once they begin and cannot discuss the problem or their design with anyone during that time. The project is assigned at KU as part of a second-semester senior design course.

“In some ways, this project is the culmination of our chemical engineering education at KU,” DeKosky said. “The majority of guidance for this project came from my design instructors, associate professors of chemical and petroleum engineering Kyle Camarda and Marylee Southard. However, design combines everything that we learn in the previous three years of chemical engineering courses, so I was able to apply what I had learned from many other professors in the department.”

In addition to second place in the design competition and the Hertz fellowship, DeKosky was honored in 2009 as a Nagel Scholar by Tau Beta Pi, the national honor society for engineering students, and as a recipient of the prestigious Goldwater scholarship. He is the son of Deborah DeKosky and Robert DeKosky, Overland Park, and a graduate of Blue Valley Northwest High School.

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