Chemical engineering names 2019 Early Career Alumni Recognition Award recipient


By Jamie Oberdick

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Kelly Irvin has been named the 2019 Early Career Alumni Recognition Award recipient by 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 10 years and is an exemplary role model for current chemical engineering students, as well as a successful contributor to industry.

Irvin has more than 10 years of experience as a chemical engineer and leader. After receiving her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering in 2009, Irvin joined Rhodia, a specialty chemical company, as a part of their leadership development program, Foundations for the Future. As a part of the program, she rotated through three different assignments in five years. These assignments included a process engineering role in Blue Island, Illinois; a production engineering role in Houston; and a logistics specialist role in Hammond, Indiana. During this time, Rhodia was acquired by Solvay, a Belgian chemical company, and Irvin became a Solvay employee.

After her time in Solvay’s Foundations for the Future program, Irvin moved into her first management position as the operations superintendent for one of Solvay’s sulfuric acid manufacturing facilities in Hammond, reporting to the plant manager. In 2015, she relocated to Princeton, New Jersey, to become the senior supply planner for Solvay’s Novecare division. In 2016, she was promoted to North American supply chain manager for Novecare’s oil and gas and industrial businesses.

In 2017, Irvin then took on a special project where she managed the integration of the Novecare North America portion of the acquisition of the specialty chemicals and materials technology company Cytec.

In her current role as a key account manager for Solvay’s amine chemistry business in North America, Irvin works with Solvay’s amine manufacturing facility in Zhanjiagang, China; the research and innovation team in Shanghai, China; and the finance and marketing group in Singapore.

Despite a career full of accomplishments that keeps her very busy, Irvin finds time to be a positive influence and role model for others in her community and for future chemical engineers. She is a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), and her efforts helped Solvay win the BBBS Mercer County, New Jersey chapter’s 2019 Corporate Partner of the Year award. She also is a volunteer with Chemistry Connection, a program to help teach elementary school youth about science, and she is active in Solvay’s community outreach program. In addition, she has given back to the Foundations for the Future leadership program at Solvay by becoming a mentor.

Irvin has lectured at Penn State multiple times as part of the ChE 300: Professional Development Seminar and also has lectured at Penn State and at Purdue University on process safety.

“Beyond great academics and a great reputation to jump-start my career, Penn State also offers a great network of alumni that have helped to mentor me and provide me with opportunities through my career,” Irvin said. “Since graduation, it has been great to return to campus each year to stay connected with the chemical engineering department as well as to network with current students.”


Share this story:

facebook linked in twitter email


Megan Lakatos

“Beyond great academics and a great reputation to jump-start my career, Penn State also offers a great network of alumni that have helped to mentor me and provide me with opportunities through my career.”
Kelly Irvin, chemical engineering alumna



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