Back to top
Skip to main content
  • Home
  • News
  • WVU chemical engineering students recognized at annual AVEVA international competition

WVU chemical engineering students recognized at annual AVEVA international competition

Owen Gerdes, Hunter Hardway, Joshua Swecker and Brian Lauerman

WVU students and members Owen Gerdes, Hunter Hardway, Joshua Swecker and Brian Lauerman of the 2023-24 AVEVA competition team (Photo supplied).

A team of West Virginia University chemical engineering students won Best Steady State Simulation, North American category, at AVEVA’s sixth annual Chemical Engineering Student-Focused Annual Process Simulation Competition.

Story by Olivia Howard, GA Multimedia Specialist
Photo supplied


The 2023-2024 AVEVA competition invites college students across North America and Europe to solve real-world hydrogen-focused sustainability problems using AVEVA simulation software. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources participants included chemical engineering students Owen Gerdes Brian Lauerman, Hunter Hardway and Joshua Swecker. 

This year, the focus was on the transportation of fuels in support of the hydrogen economy. Participants were challenged to come up with a plan to produce and transport hydrogen in a clean and sustainable manner. 

Going into the competition, none of the Statler College team members had used AVEVA simulation software before, which posed a steep learning curve, but they were up for the challenge. They had three goals in mind: to expand on their simulation knowledge by taking the opportunity to learn an unfamiliar software, to apply what they learned in their chemical engineering classes to a real-world problem and to win the competition. 

Competing against 48 teams from 54 universities across North America and Europe, the competition took place over the course of three months and was divided into three parts.  

The first phase of the competition was a steady-state simulation of producing ammonia (𝑁𝐻3) via hydrogen (𝐻2) and nitrogen (𝑁2). Participants were given a list of conditions and a process flow diagram to simulate the production of 𝑁𝐻3 via the reversible reaction 𝐻2+𝑁2↔2𝑁𝐻3. As time went on, the initial problem progressed from a steady state process design to a pressure-driven dynamic simulation with some optimization, analysis and control. 

The team performed a series of calculations to check the efficiency of the process and conducted a short write-up on how they could optimize it before transitioning to part two.  

Building off their work in part one, the team worked to optimize an Ammonia Synthesis Plant using AVEVA simulation software. The objectives were to perform an economic analysis of the process, optimize the process as best as possible and then conduct a brief write up on their approach to optimizing the process. 

For part three, the team had to tackle the construction and optimization of a new 𝐻2 pipeline. They completed an economic analysis, optimized the transportation process and compared their results to the economics of part two. Then they wrote a summary of their approach to the problem and explained how they optimized the pipeline using AVEVA simulation software. 

Throughout the competition process, the team enhanced their process simulation skills using the latest technology, engaged with cutting-edge concepts, and contributed to the advancement of eco-conscious practices.  

At the final stage of the competition, submissions went through a multi-level selection process and were reviewed by a judging panel comprised of AVEVA technical specialists. Recognition was awarded in 4 categories: best overall, best state simulation, best economics optimization, and best design optimization. Submissions from North America and Europe were awarded separately.  

WVU’s team won best state simulation in North America and received a cash prize of $1,000.  

The AVEVA competition was a valuable learning experience for the Statler students. They learned that they have the knowledge, drive and perseverance to approach challenges as an opportunity to excel at them.  

“Not only did the competition provide an excellent opportunity to expand upon our skills, but it fostered a fun and relaxed environment in which we could apply and showcase the skills we have acquired throughout our time at West Virginia University,” said the team in a joint statement.



Contact: Paige Nesbit
Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
304.293.4135, Paige Nesbit

For more information on news and events in the West Virginia University Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, contact our Marketing and Communications office:

Phone: 304-293-4135