Chemical Engineering

If you encounter barriers to accessing any content on this page, please contact Accessibility Resources.

Wherever chemicals are made or used and materials of any kind are processed, the talents of chemical engineers are fundamentally involved. Chemical engineering is concerned with chemical reactions and processes, not only on a small laboratory scale, but also on a massive production scale involving large quantities of consumer and industrial products. These products range from basic chemicals to complex and expensive items such as antibiotics and perfume. Many valued products, now familiar but not available just a few years ago, have been made possible by the work of chemical engineers. Some examples are plastics of all kinds, the miracle medicines such as insulin and various vaccines in large quantities, modern laundry products, paints, and processed foods. Chemical engineers also deal with problems of processing fossil, chemical and nuclear fuels, and air- and water-pollution control. In all these instances, the economical production of massive quantities of products requires approaches and methods that are the unique contributions of chemical engineers.

The mission of the Department of Chemical Engineering is to educate students for professional careers, to advance knowledge, to develop competent professionals, and to make further positive contributions both in the field of chemical engineering and to society in general. The department embraces ABET 2000 program objectives with a highly-structured educational experience that develops learning skills, fosters an appreciation of the need for lifetime learning, provides experiences to function independently and as a team member, to communicate ideas effectively by oral and written presentation, and motivates students to become responsible, knowledgeable, and responsive members of their community. Of special importance to chemical engineers are the abilities:

  • to apply knowledge of mathematics and basic sciences to chemical engineering practice,
  • to formulate and solve chemical engineering problems,
  • to design and conduct laboratory experiments and chemical processes.

The education of the chemical engineer includes a strong sequence of chemistry courses in addition to mathematics, physics, and the engineering sciences. Students also study subjects relating to processes, machinery, and plants used in chemical industries. This intensive study of both engineering and science provides a basis for the graduating student to conduct research, improve processes or materials, develop and design plants, or direct operations of industrial plants involving chemical methods.

The engineering design component of the program involves the learning of design methodologies; the development of problem analysis, formulation, and solving skill; consideration of alternative solutions through open-ended problems; development of student creativity; and detailed process design with economic and safety constraints. The design component is structured into three interrelated parts that focus on:

  • providing a broad introduction to the elements of engineering design,
  • teaching design methodologies and developing problem analysis, formulation, and solving skills,
  • providing exposure to open-ended and capstone problems with realistic objectives and constraints.

Students are exposed to the concepts of engineering design during their first semester of study as part of the Introduction to Engineering course, where a particular problem is assessed and a solution recommended based on provided constraints. Students are required to consider multiple possibilities and make decisions based within the scope of the problem addressed. Students also are introduced to issues of professional and ethical responsibility as related to chemical engineering practice. The remainder of the freshman year and most of the sophomore year provides the required fundamental background in the basic sciences, mathematics, and engineering fundamentals. At the end of their sophomore year, students are exposed to problem solving skills in the Material and Energy Balances course. The students must recognize the problems and formulate the proper approach in order to obtain a solution. The remainder of the coursework through the first semester of the third, or pre-junior year, focuses on math and both basic and engineering sciences, providing the appropriate theoretical groundwork for upper level coursework.

Departmental courses during the second semester of the third year through the fourth year include both appropriate engineering science content (i.e., Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics and the Transport Phenomena sequence), and design of process equipment such as heat exchangers (Principles of Heat Transfer), mass-transfer contacting equipment (Equilibrium Processes and Principles of Mass Transfer), chemical reactors (Chemical Reaction Engineer-ing), and control systems (Process Dynamics and Control). Chemical Engineering Laboratory IV and V require students to develop their own research plans in response to specific questions posed in a fictional work environment and arrive at conclusions in terms of optimum operating conditions or an apparatus design specification. Seniors then take three courses — Chemical Engineering Systems, which teaches quantitative optimization techniques, and Design Project I and II, which forms the unifying capstone design sequence drawing on all previous work. The curriculum is designed to ensure that students learn the concepts of engineering design early in the curriculum, but stresses a solid fundamental understanding before detailed work is encountered in coursework.

Curriculum Sheets

Notes on the Curriculum Sheet

The Curriculum Sheet above is for students on a standard schedule and may need to be modified for students on irregular schedules.

The college numbers of the courses shown are not given except for 36 PD 120.

All other courses for which an area name is specified must be taken from the College of Engineering and Applied Science which has a college number of 20. The exception is 36 PD 120, whose college number is already given as 36.

BoK courses may be taken from any college of the University. 

All other elective courses must be approved by the student's departmental advisor.


You are strongly encouraged to meet with your academic adviser if you currently have any curricular deficiencies or have any other reason to follow a modified program. Failure to follow an approved program may lead to Academic Probation, delay of graduation, or other more serious problems.

Substitute Course Work for Required Course Work during a Study Semester

In general, a student may not take a course from another UC college during a study semester as a substitute for a required course in his or her curriculum. However, if there is an unusual reason to do so, a student may request to take a substitute course. Submit a request to the Committee on Academic Standards using the form Petition to use A Substitute Course.

A student may not register for the substitute course until after receiving approval of his or her petition. Failure to petition for approval may result in no credit for the course toward the student's degree requirements and the course may have to be repeated.

Substitute Course Work for Required Course Work during a Co-op Semester

Students are allowed to take up to six credits during a co-op semester if the class does not interfere with the co-op assignment. Approval must be secured from the Department advisor, the Professional Practice advisor, and the Chairman of the Committee on Academic Standards before registration is permitted. If a student needs to make up a class or wishes to take a class during the normal hours of a co-op assignment, then a petition must be submitted along with a letter from the employer stating that the employer is aware that the student needs to take the course, the company has a flextime policy for all employees (not just the student involved), and that the student can make up the hours in order to work a minimum of 40 hours per week. Submit a request to the Committee on Academic Standards using the form Petition to use A Substitute Course.