International agreement bolsters WSU graduate education

agreement-signedPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University has entered into an agreement with Shandong Chambroad Holding Co. Ltd., a private Chinese corporation, to educate WSU doctoral students to meet significant societal needs in energy and environment.

The corporation will provide up to $5 million to support five new students each year, up to a total of 20 students simultaneously, in chemical engineering, chemistry or materials science and engineering.

The privately run company started in 1991 and employs about 11,000 people in Boxing, China. Chambroad is engaged in petrochemicals, fine chemicals, culture and arts, education, agriculture and strategic investment..

A WSU team led by Vice President for Research Chris Keane and Vice President for International Programs Asif Chaudhry reached the agreement on a trip to China in January.

Support for studies in energy, environment

The Chambroad Distinguished Fellowship will provide graduate student and research support in the area of catalysis, a critical component of the manufacturing sector, especially in the production of high energy fuels and household chemicals.

Catalysts contribute more than 35 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP). They are important in food production because fertilizer and pesticide production requires up to two percent of the world’s energy.

They are also important for environmental systems management, such as for vehicle emissions, and for production of many everyday products, said Jim Petersen, director of the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering. Improving catalyst efficiency is important for increasing supplies, reducing costs and decreasing environmental impacts of petroleum-based and alternative fuels, he added.

With significant support from Gene (’69, ChemE) and Linda Voiland, WSU’s program in catalysis has grown significantly in the past five years, nearly tripling student enrollment and research expenditures. The program benefits from extensive collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Voiland Distinguished Professors Yong Wang and Norbert Kruse hold joint appointments at PNNL.

Next-generation leaders meeting global challenges

“This partnership fits squarely within our university’s goals and mission and promises to address society’s biggest global challenges at the nexus of food, energy and the environment,’’ said Keane. “We look forward to working with Chambroad in training students to become our next generation leaders in addressing these pressing scientific challenges.’’

The fellowship program will allow students to work collaboratively with WSU researchers. Research areas will be focused on energy conversion, carbon capture technology and utilization, and petrochemical conversion with the goal of creating economical, dependable and environmentally sustainable systems, said Petersen.

“This collaborative agreement provides a foundation for a multidimensional partnership between WSU and Chambroad to provide education and research that will strategically contribute to the advancement of society,” said Chaudhry. “As such, it represents an example of the impact that international collaborations can have on the world.”

The program will be supported by WSU’s Office of Research, Office of International Programs and Graduate School.

“Chambroad has a strong culture of teamwork and giving back that fits nicely with WSU’s land-grant heritage of applied and practical research to enhance the economy and improve quality of life,’’ said Keane. “I believe this partnership will strengthen our programs while producing high-impact research with real-world applications.’’


Jim Petersen, WSU Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, 509-335-4332,
Tina Hilding, WSU Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture communications, 509-335-5095,