Alumnus Chad Able leads water sustainability efforts for the U.S. Department of Energy

Even in graduate school, gaining hands-on experience was essential for Chad Able as he pursued and completed his doctorate. in chemical engineering. Today, Able works as a senior engineer for KeyLogic Systems, a US Department of Energy contractor. Every day, he takes advantage of the network and skills he developed at Ohio University to excel as a researcher in his career.

At OHIO, Able worked alongside Jason Trembly, Russ Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and Sumit Sharma, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, at the Institute for Sustainable Energy and the Environment (ISEE). The development of sanitation processes to improve the quality of water and air is one of the main objectives of ISEE. Able therefore worked specifically in wastewater treatment throughout his graduate studies prior to his career in industry.

Working with these faculty members has allowed Able to challenge himself in the field, improve his academic writing skills, establish connections with industry, and develop modeling abilities. Able chose Ohio University because he wanted to work alongside professors with an industrial background — experience outside of the lab — so he could hone those skills.

“Dr. Trembly and I literally drove to a frack pit to get water [to test.] That’s the real practical part,” Able said.

His mentors allowed him to get wet, literally and figuratively, in a variety of scenarios, which prepared him for the multi-faceted career he leads today. In fact, he learned about his current role at KeyLogic while making industry connections alongside Trembly at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) conference.

At KeyLogic, an average day for Able revolves around wastewater assessment and treatment. KeyLogic works with key partners to identify and implement water and environmental sustainability efforts. In his role, Able gathers and evaluates concentration water statistics. Once it has collected this data, it contacts vendors who sell processing technologies. From there, it compiles all the information to present and make recommendations for a given site.

“[Water remediation] will always be a concern for any jurisdiction that produces water or uses liquid waste. It will always require scientists and engineers,” Able said.

Although his standard day involves testing and evaluating water samples, a project Able has been working on this year is evaluating coal dump leaching. This project required Capable to assess the condition of the site and then make suggestions on how to move forward with these sites.

“This project will serve as a starting point for efforts to recover minerals and work in water-constrained areas. This will pave the way for future projects,” Able added.

From his graduate school experience to his current role as a senior engineer, Able has always embraced opportunities to engage in hands-on work to inform his research. While his desire to do hands-on work was always a constant, he was open to a variety of career opportunities beyond that.

“It’s just important to keep an open mind about where your career would go,” Able said.

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