ChBE Alumnus Profile: Kevin Yue

Class of: 2002 (B.S.)

kevin yue
Kevin Yue (B.S. '02)

Kevin Yue, a member of our Department's External Advisory Board , currently works at AECOM  in Columbia, Md., where he serves as an environmental engineer on projects including regulatory issues (such as spill prevention and control and stormwater pollution prevention plans) and the cleanup of contaminants, including petroleum, manufactured gas plant byproducts, TCE, and metals. Yue previously provided assessment and remediation solutions to major petroleum clients for Kleinfelder.

Outside of the office, he is the Vice President of the Maryland Outdoor Club and President of the National Capital Area Alumni Association of Alpha Phi Omega.

We chatted with Kevin to learn more about his experiences at the University of Maryland and what he is doing today.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Maryland?

The University of Maryland gave me the best "bang for the buck".  While investigating colleges throughout the country, it kept coming up as a good place to continue my education. From all that I had heard of the college, I understood that it would provide me with more than just the formal textbook education. Once I started attending, I was exposed to a wide array of classes, personal relationships, and other opportunities. Different classes provided the expansion of my education that I was looking for.

Why did you decide to major in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?

Quite simply, I liked chemistry, physics, and math in high school.  I was debating between majoring in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering. However, I was always intrigued with the interaction of molecules and I liked production, so chemical engineering seemed to be the best venue for me.

What was the best thing about majoring in ChBE, or what was your favorite "ChBE Experience"?

I enjoyed the camaraderie between my classmates and also between each class level. I was able to develop friendships and teams that helped me learn more about chemical engineering.

What was your favorite class, and why?

Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, taught by [Professor Emeritus Thomas] McAvoy. Something about the equations of thermodynamics clicked with me and understanding how energy interacted in our environment fascinated me.

Were you involved in research, internships, conferences, or other activities while a student?

I took an independent study with Dr. [Sheryl] Ehrman, using a modeling program to develop temporal and spatial distribution of air pollutants. After that project was completed, I worked on developing a faster mathematical model using real data collected by the EPA. I was quite involved with other activities on campus, such as with the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, and also as a resident assistant.

What advice do you have for students currently majoring or thinking of majoring in ChBE?

I would recommend that they have to keep an open mind and understand that there isn't as much chemistry in the program as they may expect. When I was going through the [undergraduate] program, I learned more about the production processes and unit operations used to make the chemicals than I did about developing the new chemicals. I also focused on environmental engineering. I would advise students to think about how the skills they learned can be applied in whatever [field] they go into. 

What have you been doing since you graduated? 

For the first two years after graduating, I worked as a field services representative for a carbon provider. However, this became a mundane job, so I switched to being an environmental consultant for Kleinfelder, where I worked as a project engineer on a team that provided assessment and remediation solutions to major petroleum clients. We all had to think "outside the box" and apply our skills and knowledge to further develop our "trusted advisor" status with our clients.

Throughout the time I was with Kleinfelder, I learned many different aspects of environmental engineering. I worked as a lead on a bioreactor sampling program, designed to develop a baseline for nutrient input and output from groundwater remediation, and worked with chemical injection of a sodium persulfate solution activated with sodium hydroxide.

The remediation work I did involved cleaning up and mitigating the environmental risks associated with petroleum releases from retail gasoline stations. The chemical agents [I used] essentially break down the gasoline constituents, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and other assorted chemicals. The broken down constituents are further consumed by naturally occurring bacteria that feed on those chemicals. Once we "cleaned up" a site, we discussed the results with our clients and requested from the State that they consider the site cleaned up and the case closed, and that the contamination posed no further risk to the surrounding area and people.

In 2011 I joined AECOM as an environmental engineer. This position has allowed me to expand my scope to include environmental regulations and the cleanup of other types of contaminants, not just petroleum products.

How have your the skills you developed at Maryland helped in your job or in other activities that you have been involved with since graduating?

I have utilized the skills I developed at Maryland to work in teams and understand different viewpoints in providing a solution to a problem. Being in engineering has provided a way of problem solving [I use] in all that I have done at work and in other activities.