Penn CBE Alumni populate the highest levels of research, academia, and business. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department counts among its graduates members of the National Academy of Engineering, CEOs of major industries, and leading professors at top universities.
CBE Distinguished Alumnus: Andrew Seidel
Andrew Seidel is the chairman and CEO of Underground Solutions, a California company that manufactures a fusible, monolithic, gasket-free polyvinylchloride pipe used in water, sewer, electrical, industrial, and telecommunication industries. He joined the company in 2005 after his previous position showed him an opportunity waiting. He was head of USFilter, which ran about 150 water companies across the United States. The toughest challenge facing those 150 companies, Seidel says, was not managing their plants or sustaining the quality of the water. It was the condition of the iron or concrete pipes that carry the water to homes and businesses. "There's a demographic echo going on with pipe generations in this country," Seidel says. "The infrastructure underground is rapidly decaying. A large percentage of the nation's water supply pipes were installed at roughly the same time and are now failing at the same time. That's what creates this great business opportunity for pipeline rehabilitation." Traditional methods of repairing or replacing pipelines involve digging up streets, pulling up the old pipe, and putting in the new. As Seidel saw it, "there's got to be a better way." Underground Solutions' "trenchless" technology is more environmentally friendly and less disruptive. Replacement PVC pipe fits inside the existing pipe and is installed via a small pit dug at either end of a street. Despite the economic climate, "the business," he says, "is defying gravity."