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.

Aug
9
2017

Chancellor Gallagher appoints Chemical Engineering Distinguished Professor Anna Balazs to the John A. Swanson Endowed Chair of Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 9, 2017) … Recognizing her contributions to the fields of chemical engineering and computational modeling, the University of Pittsburgh has appointed Anna C. Balazs as the John A. Swanson Chair in Engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering. Chancellor Patrick D. Gallagher made the appointment on the recommendation of Provost Patricia E. Beeson and U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering Gerald D. Holder.“Anna’s appointment to the John A. Swanson Chair in Engineering in the Swanson School of Engineering recognizes and rewards the quality and impact of her work to date, which has earned deep and widespread respect,” said Gallagher. “This designation is well deserved—and one of the highest honors that any university can bestow upon a member of its faculty.” “Anna’s award-winning contributions to her field have been tremendous, and she is one of the most valued and respected members of our faculty,” Dean Holder added. “But most importantly, she has been and continues to be a mentor to so many students and post-doctoral researchers who have been impacted by her innovative research, creativity, and wonderful personality.” Dr. Balazs is also the Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and previously held the Robert v.d. Luft Professor at the Swanson School. She received her B.A. in physics from Bryn Mawr College in 1975 and PhD in materials science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Her research involves developing theoretical and computational models to capture the behavior of polymeric materials, nanocomposites and multi-component fluids, with funding awarded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation.She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the Materials Research Society, and was a Visiting Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford University. She has served on a number of editorial boards including Macromolecules, Langmuir, Accounts of Chemical Research, and Soft Matter, and currently serves as an Associate Editor for the journal Science Advances. She was Chair of the American Physical Society Division of Polymer Physics in 1999-2000, and received a Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. Her other awards include the Maurice Huggins Memorial Award of the Gordon Research Conference for outstanding contributions to Polymer Science (2003), the Mines Medal from the South Dakota School of Mines (2013), the American Chemical Society Langmuir Lecture Award (2014), and the Royal Society of Chemistry S F Boys-A Rahman Award (2015). Most recently, she was the first woman to receive the prestigious American Physical Society Polymer Physics Prize (2016). ###

Aug
9
2017

Nanoparticle Research by ChemE's Giannis Mpourmpakis Could Take the Guesswork Out of Creating New Metals

Chemical & Petroleum

The steel beams that make up bridges and skyscrapers, the gold used for jewelry and the brass that forms musical instruments can be traced back to tiny building blocks invisible to the naked eye called metal nanoparticles — materials around 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.Scientists have been able to synthesize metal nanoparticles for years, but have not been able to figure out why they formed at specific sizes. This meant they had to rely on trial-and-error methods to make new kinds of metals needed for the aforementioned examples. In addition, no one is quite sure what makes these particles stable.Giannis Mpourmpakis' work is supported by the American Chemical Society and the National Science Foundation.A new study in Nature Communications, co-authored by Pitt’s Giannis Mpourmpakis, an assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering, and PhD candidate Michael Taylor, offers a possible way to unravel these mysteries, with the help of computer simulations. Read the full story by Amerigo Allegretto in Pittwire. Image above: The gold used in jewelry can be traced back to microscopic building blocks invisible to the naked eye called metal nanoparticles. University of Pittsburgh assistant professor Giannis Mpourmpakis and PhD candidate Michael Taylor have been researching how metal nanoparticles are synthesized to create more efficient production processes. (Pittwire)
Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
Aug
8
2017

Pitt’s ChemE Department Recruits NETL Researcher Hseen Baled

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 8, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering announced that Hseen Baled will join its faculty as an Assistant Professor on August 28.“Hseen was our number one choice in the hiring pool and brings not only ability to teach practically any course in our chemical engineering curriculum, but our petroleum engineering curriculum as well,” said Steven Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and chair of the department of chemical and petroleum engineering.Dr. Baled received his PhD degree in chemical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. He graduated from Rheinisch-Westfälishce Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen University in Germany with a diploma (a combined BSc and MSc) in chemical engineering. He has extensive research experience in high-pressure fluid thermodynamic and transport properties and phase equilibria. Beginning in 2015, Dr. Baled worked at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) as an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) Research Associate. He studied the viscosity and phase behavior of crude oil components at deepwater conditions of extreme temperatures and pressures, as well as pre-combustion carbon dioxide capture using physical solvents.Dr. Baled is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), and he received the Coull Award for Outstanding ChE PhD Student at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Aug
7
2017

Pitt Engineering Students Find Sustainable Solutions through Summer Research

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (August 7, 2017) … At the 14th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium (URP) hosted by the Swanson School’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, students presented the results of their multidisciplinary approaches to sustainable engineering. Research for the 17 student projects took place during the 12-week URP summer program. The students worked independently on their projects but received guidance from University of Pittsburgh faculty mentors.Angela Leo and Kendra LaVallee, both majoring in chemical engineering, received first and second place, respectively. As a Covestro Scholar, Leo was supported by the high-tech polymer company Covestro; and as a Mascaro Scholar, LaVallee was supported by Civil Engineering alumnus, John C. Mascaro.Leo’s project titled “Unlocking Energy Efficient Water Oxidation for Ozone Disinfectants” examined the electrochemical production of ozone through extreme water oxidation and its overpotential – a measurement of a reaction’s optimal value compared to what is experimentally observed. Using advanced computational methods, Leo was able to model and observe a reduction in the overpotential, indicating progression towards efficient ozone catalysis. Ozone has the potential to offer a more sustainable alternative to water sterilization when compared to traditional methods such as chlorine or chloramine.LaVallee’s project titled “Fueling a Growing World: Nanoparticle Catalyzed Synthesis of Ethylene” focused on developing a novel synthesis method for ethylene production from ethane. Ethylene, an important commodity chemical that serves as a precursor for most plastics, is currently manufactured in an energy-intensive process that releases harmful air pollutants to the atmosphere. LaVallee’s research explored a process called oxidative dehydrogenation, which permits gentler reaction conditions.About Angela LeoLeo will graduate in fall 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. Since this past January, she has been an undergraduate researcher in the research group of John Keith, Assistant Professor and the Inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. In the group, she has learned how to utilize Python and the software CP2K to investigate chemistry computationally.Leo is currently a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, and the University of Pittsburgh Varsity Marching Band, in which she plays the bass (tuba). She is also a former member of the photography club. About Kendra LaValleeLaVallee will graduate in the fall 2017 and will receive her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She is pursuing a certificate in Supply Chain Management in the joint program between the Swanson School and the University of Pittsburgh College of Business Administration. After completing a yearlong co-op in the technical operations department at Johnson & Johnson, LaVallee received the National Co-op of the Year Award from the American Society of Engineering Education at the Conference for Industry and Education Collaboration.This summer, she worked under the guidance of graduate student Yahui Yang in the catalytic reaction engineering laboratory of Goetz Veser, professor of chemical and petroleum engineering.An active participant in PittServes, LaVallee traveled to Ecuador during her spring break to volunteer to help build a sustainable marketplace. She is in the Honors Chemical Engineering Society, Omega Chi Epsilon, and she is also the Women’s Engineering Conference Publicity Chair for the Society of Women Engineers. ### Above image: Kendra LaVallee (left) and Angela Leo (right)
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jul
26
2017

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards three novel biomedical devices with $65,000 total Round-1 2017 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (July 26, 2017) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $65,000 to three research groups through its 2017 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a new technology for reducing risk of post-partum uterine hemorrhage, a thermal device for inducing nerve block in pain control, and a system to improve transplanted organ viability.CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, supports applied technology projects in the early stages of development with “kickstart” funding toward the goal of transitioning the research to clinical adoption. Proposals are evaluated on the basis of scientific merit, technical and clinical relevance, potential health care impact and significance, experience of the investigators, and potential in obtaining further financial investment to translate the particular solution to healthcare.“This is our sixth year of pilot funding,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “Since our inception, more than $1 million from external funding sources and from the Swanson School of Engineering has been invested in early stage medical technologies. Many of these technologies have the potential to significantly improve the delivery of health care and several new companies have resulted from the program, which has successfully partnered UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.”AWARD 1: Objective Postpartum Uterine Tone MonitoringFunds development of a new prototype uterine tone measurement device for eventual testing in the clinical setting. The device would evaluate intra-uterine muscle tone for detection of and control of postpartum bleeding.Gerhardt Konig, MDDepartment of Anesthesiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Jason Shoemaker, PhDAssistant Professor of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of EngineeringAWARD 2: Novel Thermal Block Technology to Block Nerve ConductionFor development and preclinical testing of a thermal nerve block device for anesthesia and pain control. Early research in mice shows that the effect can be useful in controlling production and communication of nerve impulses. The award will demonstrate proof of concept to attract additional funding from external competitive grants. Development of a small implantable, wireless controlled, wireless chargeable device to control the electrodes will be a primary goal. The prototype device will then test the pudendal nerve to confirm the nerve block effects. Changfeng Tai, PhD Associate Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssociate Professor of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Christopher Chermansky, MDAssistant Professor of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineAssistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering Bo Zeng, PhD Assistant Professor of Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering AWARD 3: OrganEvac/Whole Organ Sonothrombolysis DeviceThis award is an equal participation between the Center for Medical Innovation and the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at Pitt. The early stage seed grant will demonstrate proof of concept that sonothrombolysis technology can greatly enhance viability of transplanted liver tissue through evaluation of thromboemboli in excised, non-transplantable human liver tissue. Paulo Fontes, MDAssociate Professor of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector of the Machine Perfusion Program, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterJohn Pacella, MD, MSAssistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh Medical Center Heart and Vascular InstituteFlordeliza Villaneuva, MDVice Chair for Pre-Clinical Research, Department of Medicine and Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, University of Pittsburgh School of MedicineDirector, Center for Ultrasound Molecular Imaging and Therapeutics, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterAbout the Center for Medical InnovationThe Center for Medical Innovation at the Swanson School of Engineering is a collaboration among the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the Innovation Institute, and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). Established in 2011, CMI promotes the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; educates the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and facilitates the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services. CMI has supported more than 50 early-stage projects through more than $1 million in funding since inception. ###

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