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Alumnus gives back to hometown in India

November 1, 2017 - By Kim Delker

Bipin 1Bipin Vora is a person who believes in paying it forward. 

Vora, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering from UNM in 1966 and 1967, respectively, grew up in a small village, Harij in state of Gujarat, India. His father died when he was 8, which put a strain on the family’s finances. A bright student, Vora was encouraged to continue his education, but he said without the support of various people along the way, he never would have been able to earn a graduate degree in engineering.

Now, all these years later, Vora wants to return that generosity by helping students in his Harij, supporting construction of a new school for 400 students in K-5. He is donating all of his earnings in retirement to this cause. 

“I’m just giving back, repaying all the generosity that was given to me,” he said. 

Eventually, his goal would be to provide all K-5 students in the village with lunch, which would make parents more likely to keep their children in school, he said. Also, he would like to provide students in higher grades with computers and other technology for the classroom. 

Bipin 2After graduating from UNM, Vora went on to have a very successful career in the petroleum refining and petrochemical industry, rising to a grade of UOP Corporate Fellow, the highest technical ladder position at UOP, a Honeywell company.

He played key role in development of detergent alkylation process, which makes raw material for household biodegradable laundry and dishwashing detergents. He has been also credited for development of propane dehydrogenation for propylene production and conversion of methanol to ethylene and propylene, which are raw material for production of polymers and plastics. He has 93 U.S. patents, over 200 international patents, and over 150 publications. A recipient of 2013 Platts Global Lifetime Achievement award, Vora has also received the Distinguished Service Award from the Fuels and Petrochemicals Division of AIChE, the AIChE Process Development Award, the AIChE Chemical Engineering Practice Award, the ACS National Award in Industrial Chemistry, ChemTech-India Technology Leadership award and is an AIChE Fellow.

Although he retired in 2006, Vora remained active as a consultant at UOP until 2015.  Now in addition to some consulting in the industry, he mentors chemical engineering students at University of Illinois at Chicago. In 2017 he was a visiting professor at Nirma University and Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in India, as well as at IIT, Chicago. He and his wife, Kalpi, reside in Naperville, a suburb of Chicago. He plans to continue these activities in 2018 and beyond. 

Vora remains active in with the School of Engineering, serving on the Alumni Leadership Board. He was a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1999.