Gawel named 2018 Early Career Alumni Recognition Award recipient


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Katherine Gawel has been named the 2018 Early Career Alumni Recognition Award recipient for the Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering. 

The award is designed to honor an outstanding Penn State chemical engineering graduate who received his or her degree within the past ten years, and who has proven themselves as an exemplary role model for current chemical engineering students, as well as a successful contributor to industry.

Gawel has more than nine years of experience as a leader in the global food industry, and she took her first steps toward success at Penn State. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering with honors in food science and with a minor in engineering entrepreneurship from Penn State’s Schreyer’s Honors College in 2010.

Her studies included spending the summer of 2008 at Ecole Centrale Paris in Chatenay-Malabry, France. During that time, she studied international project management, entrepreneurial leadership, and business for engineers, setting the stage for her career in business.

Gawel’s career in industry began when she interned at Kraft Foods’ Lehigh Valley, PA, plant in 2009. She so impressed plant management as an intern that following graduation, she was hired there full-time as a project engineer. Given considerable responsibility and influence on facility development, she developed scope for 12 plant projects amounting to more than $5 million in investment. She also was tasked with reliability and productivity improvement, and let teams to improve equipment efficiency, resulting in approximately $450,000 in savings.

This excellent work led to a promotion in September 2012 as a product commercialization manager in the Snacking and Confections business unit at Kraft. Within a month, Gawel became part of Mondelēz International when Kraft split into Kraft Foods Group and Mondelēz International. She used her project engineer skills to manage commercialization projects for several marketing teams that included Wheat Thins, Ritz, Multipacks, and Club. She offered an engineering perspective to marketing projects that helped ensure that the commercialization process went smoothly. During her three-year stint as a product commercialization manager, she was able to launch more than 40 new products.

In July 2015, Gawel took a cross-functional role in North American Biscuit Product Development as the Channels Brand Steward. In this position, she helped to launch more than 20 new products. In addition, she also was the technical lead in transitioning one of Mondelēz International’s major platforms to non-GMO. She identified non-GMO solutions to more than 30 functional ingredients and flavors to ensure that product integrity and taste is maintained while achieving the non-GMO certification.

Gawel currently is a senior commercialization product lead at the Campbell Soup Company in Camden, NJ, where she manages a variety of projects. This includes new product launches, line extensions, product updates, and cost savings initiatives for the US retail beverage and baby business including well-known brands such as V8 and Plum.

Leadership and Professional Activities

Gawel has proven to be an outstanding leader, change manager, and role model for young professional chemical engineers through her continuing leadership in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). She was the Penn State AIChE chapter president in 2009-2010, initiating new programs such as the AIChE Career Fair Workshop. She also served as the Penn State AIChE chair for THON.

As a professional, Gawel continued her AIChE leadership, becoming part of the newly formed Young Professional Committee (YPC). Over her eight years of involvement with the YPC, she has held numerous leadership positions including Student Conference Coordinator, Vice Chair, Chair, and advisor.  As chair of the YPC, she organized the efforts of 35 YPC leaders, including launching a newsletter and a global student video competition. She also helped to develop the AIChE 35 under 35 Award, which honors the top young chemical engineers from around the world. Outside of the YPC, Gawel has also held AIChE leadership positions with in the Societal Impact Operating Council, Membership Committee, and North Jersey Local Section. 

In January 2017, Gawel began her tenure as an elected member of the AIChE board of directors, a three-year post. She serves as a liaison to the Chemical Engineering Technology Operating Council, and is a member of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee. In addition to her work with the board, Gawel is also the co-chair of a new AIChE conference, The Food Innovation & Engineering Conference (FOODIE), hosted by AIChE's Food, Pharmaceutical & Bioengineering Division. 

“Kate has, in just nine years, made tremendous contributions in the food industry and absolutely amazing contributions to our profession nationally via AIChE leadership,” said Phillip Savage, chair of the Penn State Chemical Engineering Department. “So far in her career, she has more than lived up to the potential she demonstrated as a Penn State student, and I look forward to hearing of her future accomplishments. We are quite proud to count Kate as one of our alumni” 


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Jamie Oberdick



The Penn State Department of Chemical Engineering, established in 1948, is recognized as one of the largest and most influential chemical engineering departments in the nation.

The department is built upon the fundamentals of academic integrity, innovation in research, and commitment to the advancement of industry.

Department of Chemical Engineering

121 Chemical and Biomedical Engineering Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-2574