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.

Read our latest newsletter below



Jan
11
2018

Back-to-back Journal Covers for Pitt Research Teams

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (January 11, 2018) … The covers of the Tissue Engineering, Part A and Advanced Healthcare Materials scientific journals in December highlighted two projects originating from the Swanson School of Engineering’s Little Lab, which focuses on developing biomimetic therapies for human injury and disease. “While it’s a coincidence that the two covers appeared in the same week, this achievement showcases the excellent work to change the paradigm of how we treat disease being done by all the team members of the Little Lab and its collaborators,” said Steven R. Little, chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and co-author of the two papers. Both projects—one a research paper and the other a review—dealt with topics in “controlled delivery” and involved multi-disciplinary teams of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh departments of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Bioengineering, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Ophthalmology. “The research paper proposes a cell-free approach to bone engineering based on the directing the migration of the body own stem cells, while the review discusses innovative approaches to treat inflammatory eye diseases,” said Riccardo Gottardi, research assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a co-author of the two papers. Dr. Gottardi has a second appointment in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and helps Dr. Little run the Little Lab. The cover of Tissue Engineering, Part A featured an image from the study “Programmed Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-BB and Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 Delivery from a hybrid Calcium Phosphate/Alginate Scaffold” (DOI: 10.1089/ten.tea.2017.0027). The research paper described using a three-dimensional scaffold for releasing growth-stimulating proteins in a controlled manner to treat bone fractures that aren’t healing properly. The lead author of the paper was Emily Bayer, who recently graduated from her position as a trainee in the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering and Regeneration (CATER) Training Program. Bayer was a member of the Little Lab while working on the paper. The research team was joined by Abhijit Roy, research assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and Prashant N. Kumta, the Edward R. Weidlein Chair Professor with tenure at the Swanson School of Engineering and School of Dental Medicine.The cover of Advanced Healthcare Materials featured a graphic for the study “Ocular Therapeutics: Modern Therapeutic Approaches for Noninfectious Ocular Diseases Involving Inflammation” (DOI: 10.1002/adhm.201700733). The paper reviewed inflammatory eye disease treatments and was led by co-first authors Michelle L. Ratay and Elena Bellotti. Ratay, a graduate student researcher in the Department of Bioengineering, and Dr. Bellotti, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, are both members of the Little Lab. Both projects examined topics in "controlled delivery" and involved multi-disciplinary teams of researchers from the Swanson School of Engineering. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Dec
18
2017

Professor Robert Parker receives 2017 Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (December 18, 2017) ... Recognizing his significant accomplishments over the past year, Robert Parker received the 2017 winner of the James Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching in Chemical Engineering at the Department's annual gathering this evening. In presenting the award, Department Chair Steven Little noted that Dr. Parker was promoted to Vice Chair for Graduate Education, graduated four PhD students (in one year), published eight papers, ran an REU program, received a 4.75 OTE score in 0500 Process Systems with 63 students (as an overload teaching assignment), established ENGR 1933 Engineering a Craft Brewery with the most successful first-offering elective in the history of the Swanson School, and won the Swanson School of Engineering’s Outstanding Educator Award this fall. The Pommersheim Award was established by the Department and James M. Pommersheim '70 to recognize departmental faculty in the areas of lecturing, teaching, research methodology, and research mentorship of students. Dr. Pommersheim, formerly Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University, received his bachelor's, master's and PhD in chemical engineering from Pitt. ###

Dec
11
2017

ChemE and MEMS students are big winners at 2017 Blast Furnace

Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS, Student Profiles

The problems a few dozen Pitt students wrestled with this semester weren’t in a homework assignment or an exam. They were often intensely personal problems, the solutions to which they had formed into the kernel of an idea for a new product or service. To nurture those ideas they entered the 6th cohort of the Pitt Blast Furnace student idea accelerator. The winning team as determined by the judges was DisSolves, the brainchild of Jared Raszewski, an undergraduate in chemical and petroleum engineering. He was joined by Emelyn Jaros, a mechanical engineering undergraduate. Raszewski said he is a regular user of protein powders and was frustrated by the process of measuring and mixing the protein drinks. Read their solution and more at the Innovation Institute.
Mike Yeomans, Innovation Institute
Dec
4
2017

ChemE Professors James McKone and Chris Wilmer named “rising stars” in electrochemical energy storage

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (December 4, 2017) … Two junior faculty members in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering were among a class of early-career researchers recognized for their nascent research in energy storage. James McKone and Christopher E. Wilmer, both Assistant Professors of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, along with their peers were honored as new Fellows at the first Scialog: Advanced Energy Storage meeting in Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 2-5, hosted by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Drs. McKone and Wilmer were among Scialog’s outstanding 58 early-career researchers from U.S. academic institutions. According to Scialog, these rising stars participated in intensive discussions aimed at developing proposals for seed funding of transformative energy storage systems and novel research ideas to greatly improve efficiencies in advanced batteries, supercapacitors and related systems. Each Scialog brings together researchers from across traditional disciplinary boundaries – AES in this instance attracted chemists, engineers, materials scientists and physicists. Unlike most conferences, almost all the meeting time is devoted to carefully crafted breakout science discussions to explore novel ideas and develop a vibrant network of Scialog Fellows to advance basic research, which in turn can be applied to solve major societal problems. “I am tremendously proud of James and Chris, who are among Pitt’s outstanding young researchers in energy,” noted Steven R. Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Department Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “Their exploration of next-generation energy storage systems not only broadens the University’s portfolio, but also further establishes Pittsburgh as a nexus for energy R&D and innovation.” The conference yielded 35 competitive proposals, the most for any Scialog, created by teams of Fellows newly formed at the meeting. One of the goals of Scialog is to rapidly catalyze new collaborations, and members of each team are required not to have previously collaborated. Winning teams will be announced by the end of the year, according to RCSA Senior Program Director Richard Wiener. “Research Corporation chose to focus on advanced energy storage,” Dr. Wiener said, “because we believe this critical area of science requires major breakthroughs in fundamental understanding of electrochemical and physical processes that will lead to a new era of technological advance.” ### About Dr. McKone Dr. McKone’s research group studies fundamentals and applications of electrochemistry, photochemistry, and solid-state/materials chemistry with an emphasis on renewable energy and sustainability. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and music from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, MN and PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was advised by Harry Gray and Nathan Lewis. Prior to Pitt, Dr. McKone was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University under Héctor D. Abruña and Francis J. DiSalvo. About Dr. Wilmer Dr. Wilmer’s research focuses on the use of large-scale molecular simulations to help find promising materials for energy and environmental applications. He is the principal investigator of the Hypothetical Materials Lab at Pitt and leads his team in solving energy and environmental challenges with complex, hypothetical nanostructures called “molecular machines.” He earned his bachelor’s degree in applied science from the University of Toronto’s Engineering Science—Nanoengineering program, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern under the mentorship of Randall Q. Snurr. While at Northwestern, Dr. Wilmer took an interest in developing new technologies through entrepreneurship and co-founded NuMat Technologies, which designs porous materials that could be used to make better natural gas fuel tanks for vehicles. In 2012, the company won the Department of Energy’s National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition, while Dr. Wilmer was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Energy. He has authored more than 20 publications and holds more than 500 article citations, and is co-founder of Ledger, the first peer-reviewed academic journal dedicated to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. For more information visit Dr. Wilmer’s website at www.wilmerlab.com.

Nov
29
2017

Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Lubrizol Partner on $7.5 Million Project to Improve American Chemical Manufacturing

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (November 29, 2017) … The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded the University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering and Ohio specialty chemicals provider Lubrizol Corporation a collaborative grant for research into clean energy chemical manufacturing. The DOE grant, along with contributions from Pitt and Lubrizol, will total $7.5 million over a four-year period.“The project will focus on applying advanced chemical engineering research to industrial-scale chemical manufacturing,” said Steven Little, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt. “The Pitt-Lubrizol partnership aligns well with University efforts to work with businesses to translate research into industry practices and impact the region’s economy in a positive way.”The grant is part of the DOE’s Rapid Advancement in Process Intensification Deployment (RAPID) initiative, a partnership between the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and the DOE. Both Pitt and Lubrizol are among the 45 members of the $70 million AIChE/RAPID Initiative for improving energy efficiency and industrial productivity through process intensification and modular manufacturing—two design approaches for chemical manufacturing at industry-relevant scales.“At Lubrizol, we are working with thousands of tons of chemicals per year,” said Cliff Kowall, Lubrizol technical fellow and corporate engineer. “The end objective is to provide the design basis to allow Lubrizol to deploy these innovative processes with sharp reductions in waste generation, utility, and energy costs, capital cost, and footprint accompanied by an improvement in quality consistency.” Kowall was integral in establishing the initial partnership between Pitt and Lubrizol, which began in 2014 with a $1.2 million Strategic Alliance agreement. The partnership brought about opportunities for students to learn about engineering needs in an industrial environment, while at the same time benefiting Lubrizol through research projects tailored to its business operations. Last month, Pitt and Lubrizol renewed the partnership, worth roughly $1 million invested over a three-year period. “The University of Pittsburgh was by far the best fit for us to establish a relationship with a university, largely due to the enthusiasm of the Pitt Chemical Engineering leadership team,” said Kowall. “Lubrizol made a long-term commitment initially, and now we’ve extended it for three more years with the expectation of it lasting indefinitely.”The partnership helped Pitt’s Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department develop the course “Introduction to Chemical Product Design” (ChE 0214). Open to students in their sophomore year, the course teaches how to design products specific to a customer’s needs. In a traditional paradigm, engineering students don’t work on design projects until their senior years. “This alliance has led to new educational programs that are first-of-their-kind in the country, exposing our students to unique opportunities to learn design principles and leading to multiple awards and even a spin-out company for our students,” said Dr. Little. The follow-up course, “Taking Products to Market: The Next Step in Chemical Product Design” (ChE 0314), focuses on entrepreneurship and the skills necessary to successfully turn their ideas into products or companies.“About half of the initial $1.2 million agreement went into the development of these courses and the resources to ensure our students’ success,” said Dr. Little. “Collaborating with Lubrizol directly, plus a jumpstart on product design, really gives our students a competitive advantage after graduation.”Another feature of the partnership was the creation of the ‘University of Pittsburgh Physical Property Internship,’ which is a nine-month internship targeted at chemical engineering students who graduate in December and are intending to go to graduate school in the fall.“This helps Lubrizol as well as the student who might have trouble finding something worthwhile to do in that rather awkward time. Three of the first four recipients became full-time employees,” said Kowall. “We have put emphasis on recruiting co-op students from Pitt. We work with the faculty to identify high potential candidates. Retention has been excellent in keeping co-op students as full-time employees.” ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer

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