Pitt | Swanson Engineering

The Chemical and Petroleum Engineering department at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering was established in 1910, making it the first department for petroleum engineering in the world. Today, our department has over 40 expert faculty (tenure/tenure-stream/joint/adjunct), a host of dedicated staff, more than 20 state-of-the-art laboratories and learning centers, and education programs that enrich with strong fundamentals and hands-on experience.

Chemical engineering is concerned with processes in which matter and energy undergo change. The range of concerns is so broad that the chemical engineering graduate is prepared for a variety of interesting and challenging employment opportunities.

Chemical engineers with strong background in sciences are found in management, design, operations, and research. Chemical engineers are employed in almost all industries, including food, polymers, chemicals, pharmaceutical, petroleum, medical, materials, and electronics. Since solutions to energy, environmental, and food problems must surely involve chemical changes, there will be continued demands for chemical engineers in the future.

May
19
2016

NSF Grant Funds Study to Develop a Transistor Based on Two-Dimensional Crystals to Lower the Energy Consumption of Electronics

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (May 19, 2016) … Two University of Pittsburgh researchers in the Swanson School of Engineering received a $496,272 grant from the National Science Foundation to study two-dimensional semiconductors with the goal of demonstrating a switch that requires less power than conventional silicon-based transistors. “As electronic devices continue to become more integrated into our daily lives, more energy is required to power these devices,” said Susan Fullerton, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and principle investigator of the study. “On a large scale, decreasing the power requirements of electronics would impact global energy consumption.” Eric Beckman, the George M. Bevier Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, will join Fullerton as co-principle investigator of the study, “A New Approach to Explore the Semiconductor-to-Metal Phase Transition in Two-Dimensional (2D) Crystals Using Ionomers.” The individual layers of 2D crystals can be isolated to make electronic devices that are a single atom or molecule thick. The semiconductor research community has been studying these materials extensively for the past decade as a potential low-voltage replacement for traditional complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) electronics. The key is triggering the material to switch very abruptly from a state in which the flow of charge is restricted (insulator) to a state in which charge can flow easily (conductor) and to do this at low voltage. Fullerton and Beckman will use a type of polymer electrolyte called an ionomer to induce this abrupt switching in the 2D crystal with an applied field. Theoretical predictions indicate that the material can switch states from an insulator to a conductor when a sufficient amount of strain is applied, and Fullerton and Beckman will deliver that strain at low voltage by custom-synthesized ionomers. Beyond nanoelectronics for logic, the research will contribute to the development of materials and phase change devices that respond to electrical, chemical or strain stimuli, with potential application in brain-inspired computing and artificial synapses. ### Pictured above: Dr. Beckman (left) with Dr. Fullerton in the Fullerton Group Lab
Matt Cichowicz, University Communications Contributing Writer and Editor
May
17
2016

Pitt's Chemical Engineering professor Susan Fullerton recognized by ORAU for research by junior faculty

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (May 17, 2016) … Susan Fullerton, PhD , Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded a 2016 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). “This is an outstanding accomplishment for a young faculty member, and so we are very proud of Susan’s award,” noted Steven Little, PhD , the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “The Powe Award is very competitive, and it speaks highly of Susan to receive this during her first year at Pitt.” The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards provide seed money for research by junior faculty at ORAU member institutions. These awards are intended to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and result in new funding opportunities. Full-time assistant professors at ORAU member institutions within two years of their initial tenure track appointment at the time of application are eligible. Research areas must fall in one of five disciplines including Engineering and Applied Science, Life Sciences, Mathematics/Computer Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Policy, Management, or Education. Dr. Fullerton and her research group use the interplay between ions and electrons to design next-generation electronic devices at the limit of scaling for memory, logic and energy storage. The Powe award will support neutron scattering measurements to characterize the structure of ion-containing polymers used in these devices. Prior to joining Pitt in fall 2015, Dr. Fullerton was a Research Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. She earned her Bachelor of Science and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). ###

Apr
18
2016

Ten current and former Pitt engineering students awarded 2016 National Science Foundation Fellowships

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH—Four University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering students and six alumni were awarded the 2016 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Nine engineering students and three alumni received honorable mention. Overall, the recipients were among the ten Pitt students and eight alumni awarded fellowships, and 14 Pitt students and 10 alumni who received honorable mentions. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is designed to ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. The fellowship program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The support accorded NSF Graduate Research Fellows nurtures their ambition to become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Current Pitt students who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship include: seniors Emily June Crabb (physics and astronomy, computer engineering) and Trent Maxwell Dillon (civil engineering); and graduate students Donald Edward Kline (electrical engineering) and Michael Gilbert Taylor (chemical engineering). Alumni include Kenechi Aretha Agbim (mechanical engineering, Georgia Tech), Emmeline Blanchard (bioengineering, Georgia Tech), Jann Albert Grovogui (materials science engineering, Northwestern University), Lauren Ann Hapach (bioengineering, Cornell University), David William Palm (chemical engineering, Stanford University), and Christopher James Siviy (mechanical engineering). Current students who received an honorable mention are seniors Christian Gerald Bottenfield (electrical engineering), Stephanie Paolo Cortes (electrical engineering), Luke Drnach (computer engineering), Alexander Danels Josowitz (bioengineering) and Saundria Michelle Moed (bioengineering); and graduate students Patrick Andrew Cody (bioengineering), Daniel Ward Long (bioengineering), and Stephanie Anne Wiltman (bioengineering). Alumni include Olivia Annette Creasy (bioengineering, University of California-San Francisco), Kevin Andrew Day (bioengineering, Johns Hopkins University), and Andrew Head (computer engineering, University of California-Berkeley). Visit https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do for a full list of fellows and honorable mentions and to learn more about the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. ###
Joe Miksch, News Director, University Communications
Apr
14
2016

Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Kutay Sezginel Wins $5,000 Prize from InnoCentive

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (April 14, 2016) … Kutay Sezginel, a first-year PhD candidate studying chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School, won a $5,000 prize for his innovative idea for solving a “Theoretical Challenge” posed by InnoCentive, a crowdsourcing platform for addressing problems in engineering. The InnoCentive challenge titled “Chemical Sorbents for Fixed Bed Mercury (Hg 0) Control” called on the scientific community to find a better method of removing elemental mercury from flue gas in coal fired power plants. In his proposal, Sezginel outlined a method of using an innovative porous material that is specifically tailored to purify the flue gas and withstand the harsh conditions caused by burning coal. “You have to find the right material to remove the mercury efficiently,” said Sezginel, “and my proposal described an effective substance for the purification process related to my research of hypothetical materials. In this case, the metal-organic framework I suggested using isn’t really a new on its own, but no one had suggested using it for this purpose before.” Sezginel received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical and biological engineering from Koç University in Istanbul. His research involves discovering hypothetical materials by means of crystal engineering and algorithmic molecular self-assembly. He focuses on designing atomically precise nanostructures in many different sizes and shapes which can be used as precursors for molecular machines or as storage vessels, to contain and deliver drugs, or as traps, to capture unwanted pollutants (or even viruses). He joined the WilmerLab at Pitt in September 2015 under the direction of Christopher Wilmer, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering. Members of the WilmerLab work to design hypothetical materials to help address energy and environmental challenges. They are interested in creating sophisticated nanostructures, potentially as complex and useful as molecular machines found in nature. Their strategy is to computationally design and study new materials and then work with experimental collaborators to synthesize those materials in the lab. “I encouraged my lab to submit a proposal. Kutay took the lead and won,” said Wilmer. “There were almost 200 other submissions from scientists all around the world—not limited to students. Now that the ice has been broken, I think more Pitt students should send in their good ideas to InnoCentive.” ### Pictured above: Kutay (left) and Dr. Wilmer
Matt Cichowicz
Apr
4
2016

Three Pitt Students - Two from Chemical and Petroleum Engineering - Awarded 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH—Three University of Pittsburgh students have been awarded 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships. The three Pitt juniors—Patrick A. Asinger,Natalie R. Dall, and Charles J. Hansen—were honored for their research endeavors in the areas of chemical engineering and molecular biology. Pitt junior Ethan A. Garcia-Baker received a 2016 Goldwater honorable mention designation. The Goldwater Scholarship, established in 1986 by the U.S. Congress and named for then-Senator Barry M. Goldwater of Arizona, supports outstanding students who are pursuing careers in the fields of engineering, mathematics, and the natural sciences. The award—granted in either a student’s sophomore or junior year—assists in covering the costs of books, room and board, and tuition for each student’s remaining period of study. Institutions can nominate up to four students per year for the Goldwater Scholarship. This is the fourth consecutive year that all of Pitt’s nominees have received either the scholarship or an honorable mention designation. Pitt students have now won a total of 47 Goldwater Scholarships since 1996. “The University of Pittsburgh is immensely proud of our four 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship nominees as well as Pitt’s continued success in this prestigious, highly competitive awards competition. Our track record is a testament to the high quality of our students as well as the strength of our institution,” said University Honors College Dean Edward M. Stricker. “Our Goldwater Scholars will use their scholarships to further hone their skills as researchers in the chemical engineering and molecular biology fields. They all have admirable aspirations to use those skills for the betterment of society, and we applaud and support their noble pursuits.” Pitt’s 2016 Goldwater Scholarship honorees study within the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and Swanson School of Engineering. Biographical information for Pitt’s four Goldwater honorees follows: A native of Bradford, Pa., Patrick A. Asinger is majoring in chemical engineering within the Swanson School. Upon his anticipated graduation from Pitt in the spring of 2017, Asinger plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering. Asinger plans to focus his professional research in the areas of improved renewable energy conversion and storage. Bridging the gap between laboratory experimentation and real-world application, he is working to be an influential figure in the development of catalyst systems that can efficiently convert carbon dioxide into fuel sources on a large scale. Asinger’s undergraduate research pursuits have been performed in the laboratory of Swanson School professor Götz Veser. This summer, he will be conducting research through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. In addition to his research, Asinger has been an organic chemistry teaching assistant, an outreach coordinator for the American Chemical Society, and a member of Engineers for a Sustainable World and the Chemical Engineering Honor Society. His previous honors and distinctions include Pitt’s University Scholarship, the most honorable design designation at the 2014 Pitt Student Design Expo, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) RISE Scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service. Natalie R. Dall is Pitt’s incoming Student Government Board president. A native of Loveland, Ohio, she is majoring in molecular biology within the Dietrich School. Upon her anticipated graduation from Pitt in the spring of 2017, Dall plans to pursue a doctoral degree in biology. Dall plans to focus her professional research in the fields of evolutionary and developmental biology. Her endeavors will explore human developmental disorders—such as neural tube closure and spina bifida—from a molecular point of view. Dall hopes to establish her own laboratory at a major research institution, where she will work to identify the causative agents behind developmental disorders with the intent of developing innovative treatment methods. As an undergraduate, Dall has been performing research in the lab of Pitt biological sciences professor Mark Rebeiz for the past two years. Her work in the Rebeiz lab has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Developmental Cell. During her undergraduate career, Dall has been an active member of numerous campus organizations, including the Student Government Board and the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. Her previous honors and distinctions include the Norman H. Horowitz Fellowship and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Mentor/Mentee Fellowship. A native of Mechanicsburg, Pa., Charles J. Hansen is majoring in chemical engineering within the Swanson School. Upon his anticipated graduation from Pitt in the spring of 2017, Hansen plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering. Hansen plans to focus his professional research pursuits towards clean energy production and energy storage. He looks forward to collaborating with scientists and engineers from different technical and international backgrounds in order to make breakthroughs in the energy field. During his undergraduate career, Hansen has been heavily involved in a range of undergraduate research endeavors, working closely with Swanson School professors Daniel Cole and Götz Veser. The findings of his work have been published in Ingenium, the publication of undergraduate research within the Swanson School. This summer, Hansen will continue his energy research through the Amgen Scholars Program at the California Institute of Technology. His other awards and distinctions include the Swanson School’s John W. Tierney Scholarship and Edward B. Stuart and Geraldine J. Stuart Memorial Scholarship. He was an active member of such notable organizations as the American Nuclear Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Hansen also served as a peer advisor on Pitt’s Freshman Engineering Leadership Team. Goldwater honorable mention designee Ethan A. Garcia-Baker is majoring in neuroscience as well as history and philosophy of science within the Dietrich School. Upon his anticipated graduation from Pitt in the spring of 2017, he plans to pursue a doctoral degree in computational biology and genomics. Garcia-Baker plans to focus his career in the area of human genomics technology, developing advanced tools for diagnosing psychiatric disorders and exploring new approaches for diagnosing mental disorders. He also will make the mentorship and training of doctoral students working in the area of precision medicine a priority throughout his career. Pitt’s four 2016 Goldwater Scholarship applicants were nominated with assistance from Pitt’s University Honors College, which advises Pitt undergraduate students and alumni who are interested in pursuing national and international awards. ###
Anthony M. Moore, University of Pittsburgh News Services

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