Derrick Rollins selected as recipient of MAC Engineers Award

Ben Theobald

Derrick Rollins, professor of chemical and biological engineering, said he would not be where he is today without the help he received from others growing up.

Rollins is the recipient of the 2010 Minority Action Committee Eminent Engineers Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

The AIChE recognizes professionals in the organization that are actively involved in mentoring and creating opportunities for unrepresented students in chemical engineering to succeed in the field as students or professionals.

“We’re delighted that Rollins has been chosen for the award,” said Surya Mallapragada, professor and chairwoman in chemical and biological engineering. “He has been doing a fantastic job here at the college.”

Rollins was notified by the chair of the Minority Action Committee that he was selected as the recipient.

Along with accepting the award, Rollins will also lecture about issues of society that can benefit from the expertise of chemical engineers.

“I will talk about issues such as the oil disaster in the Gulf with BP,” Rollins said.

Rollins came to Iowa State in 1990 because of the access to research and communicating with students in chemical engineering.

“It was a good fit for my interests in chemical engineering and statistics,” Rollins said. “I’m excited about mentoring and teaching students.”

Rollins is appreciative of and honored from the recognition for having mentored a number of students of color.

“He is a wonderful proponent of diversity,” Mallapragada said.

It serves as a model for all of us that we’re willing to serve and help in order to succeed, Rollins said.

“I would not be here without the people who have mentored and invested time in many ways that has contributed to my success,” Rollins said.

Though he grew up disadvantaged, Rollins is here thanks to the people who assisted him and gave him a chance, and because of them Rollins is determined to do the best he can teaching and mentoring unrepresented groups in chemical engineering.

“It’s a matter of giving back,” Rollins said. “We need to do these things so people understand giving back in helping to increase numbers in the field of engineering.”

It’s important to create legacy in new areas of impact and potential. The award serves as a reminder of importance of mentoring groups that are unrepresented in this field, Rollins said.

The award will be represented in Salt Lake City on Nov. 8.