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.

Jun
22
2017

Christopher Wilmer Wins AIChE Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (June 22, 2017) … The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) selected Christopher Wilmer , assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, as its 2017 recipient of the Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation. The AIChE Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (CoMSEF) presents the award annually to one individual who received his/her highest degree within the past seven years. “In the three years since Chris came to Pitt, I have watched him pursue research topics with the potential to have a profound impact on energy, the environment, and society as a whole,” said Steven Little , the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt. “By reaching so high, he has been able to accomplish so much during the very early stages of what promises to be an extraordinary career. The CoMSEF Young Investigator Award is one of the most prestigious honors in chemical engineering simulation and modeling, and truly reflects the breadth and depth of Chris’ career over such a short period.” The AIChE CoMSEF Young Investigator Award for Modeling and Simulation accepts applicants throughout academia, industry, or government laboratories. According to AIChE, the award recognizes “outstanding research in computational molecular science and engineering, encompassing both methods and applications." In addition to the award, Dr. Wilmer will receive a plaque, honorarium, and invitation to give a talk within the CoMSEF Plenary session at the AIChE Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minn., this October. Dr. Wilmer is the fifth recipient of this award since its establishment in 2013. 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 Prof. 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. For more information visit Dr. Wilmer’s website at www.wilmerlab.com . ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
22
2017

Faculty Opening: Assistant Professor, Non-Tenure Stream, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering

Chemical & Petroleum, Open Positions

We seek one or more exceptional candidates at the assistant professor level for this non-tenure stream position with primary responsibilities related to teaching. Candidates must have BS and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering and a strong potential to teach all core courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, the candidate should excel in a secondary area such as research, education service activities that benefit the department, or research service activities that benefit the department.The Department has internationally recognized programs in Energy and Sustainability, Catalysis and Reaction Engineering, Materials, Multi-Scale Modeling, and Biomedical Engineering. Active collaborations exist with several adjacent centers, including the University of Pittsburgh Center for Simulation and Modeling, the Center for Energy, the Petersen Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the U.S. DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory. Our department has also recently established a strategic alliance with Lubrizol Corporation that includes educational and research components. The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the department’s inclusive excellence goals.  The candidate must be committed to high quality teaching for a diverse student body and to assisting our department in enhancing diversity. Candidates from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering are strongly encouraged to apply. To apply, submit CV, names of four references, a teaching plan, and one of the following: a research plan, an education service plan, or a research service plan as a single PDF file to: Professor Robert Enick; Chemical Engineering Department; 940 Benedum Hall; University of Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA  15261.  Applications for this Fall Term 2017 position (starting in late August 2017) accepted via email only to che@engr.pitt.edu. In order to ensure full consideration, applications must be received by July 15, 2017.  The University of Pittsburgh is an EEO/AA/M/F/Vet/Disabled employer.

Professor Robert Enick
Jun
16
2017

ChemE Department Appoints Two New Vice Chairs

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 16, 2017) … In response to increasing enrollment and curricular evolution, two Vice Chair positions for faculty have been established in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Taryn Bayles will become the Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education, and Robert Parker will become the Vice Chair for Graduate Education.“Taryn’s and Bob’s shared commitment to our students is very moving to me, and I am quite impressed with the visions that they set forth,” said Steven Little, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “They have the Department’s full support in achieving those visions, and I could not be more excited to serve alongside them.”Joseph McCarthy, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department, will leave his current role in the Department as Vice Chair for Education to become the University of Pittsburgh Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies on August 1, 2017.As Vice Chair for Undergraduate Education, Dr. Bayles will be responsible for the academic experience of students through the Pillars program, a National Science Foundation-funded grant designed to reform the undergraduate Chemical Engineering curriculum at Pitt. Her focus will be on increasing diversity, inclusion, and student satisfaction.Dr. Parker served as the Department’s graduate program coordinator from 2006 – 2012. He will be responsible for building the graduate program quality and diversity, with a focus on engaging the post-graduate community.About Dr. BaylesPrior to joining Pitt, Dr. Bayles was the Undergraduate Program Director in Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Under her leadership, the program enrollment more than quadrupled and the percentage of female and underrepresented minority students increased. She has served as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator on $6.6 million in NSF awards that focus on support and mentoring for undergraduate students, outreach, and hands-on design experiences. She has developed and led more than 100 workshops with more than 5,000 participants for K-12 students, K-12 teachers, college students, and faculty members.   Dr. Bayles was awarded the University System of Maryland Regents Award for Collaboration in Public Service and the University System of Maryland Regents Award for Excellence in Mentoring. These are the highest awards given for faculty achievement in the University of Maryland system. To increase diversity at Pitt, she will draw upon her experience with the Meyerhoff program, in which she developed and led engineering workshops for the summer bridge program and received the Mentor of the Year Award. Since joining Pitt, Dr. Bayles has incorporated a hands-on design project in the CHE 0100 course, which was to design, build, test, and analyze a hemodialysis system. She serves as the faculty advisor of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter and the ChemE Car team. Dr. Bayles also serves as Chair of the Education Division of AIChE and the Publications Board of Chemical Engineering Education.About Dr. ParkerDr. Parker joined the University of Pittsburgh faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2000 and was promoted to Professor in 2014. His research program focuses on systems medicine and the use of mathematical models in the design of clinical decision support systems. He has been recognized for excellence in education through awards such as the Carnegie Science Center Excellence in Higher Education Award, the David L. Himmelblau Award from the Computing and Systems Technology (CAST) Division of AIChE, and most recently the 2017 Swanson School of Engineering Outstanding Educator Award. His commitment to a collaborative future in graduate education formed the basis of two funded Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) training programs, as well as the Systems Medicine Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. In addition to developing graduate-level training programs to support PhD students, Dr. Parker will lead graduate admissions, manage PhD timelines including qualifying examinations, support graduate recruiting, work with the Swanson School Office of Diversity to continue building a diverse graduate program, serve as the faculty advisor of the Department's Graduate Student Association, and manage faculty teaching assignments. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Jun
8
2017

Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Names ChemE’s John Keith One of Materials Chemistry’s “Rising Stars”

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH, PA (June 8, 2017) … The Journal of Materials Chemistry A, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, included University of Pittsburgh researcher John Keith in its list of Emerging Investigators in 2017. The journal’s themed issue highlighted “rising stars” of materials chemistry research recommended by experts in the field.Dr. Keith, assistant professor and the inaugural Richard King Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, was included in the journal for his work on “Computational investigation of CO2 electroreduction on tin oxide and predictions of Ti, V, Nb and Zr dopants for improved catalysis” (DOI: 10.1039/C7TA00405B).The paper outlines the work of Dr. Keith and his team on improving the performance of tin electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. By using computational quantum chemistry modeling, the researchers studied reaction mechanisms on partially-reduced tin oxide surfaces and which elemental dopant additives can be added to make the CO2 conversion more energy efficient.“Some of the dopants we modeled were already known to improve CO2 conversion energy efficiencies, and since our models could predict those cases we’re confident the other dopants we predicted as improving efficiencies are very promising for future work,” said Dr. Keith. “Our work demonstrates how we can modify tin-based oxide materials to make them better at converting CO2 into useful chemicals and fuels.”As Principal Investigator and Founder of the Keith Lab in Computational Chemistry at Pitt, Dr. Keith studies atomic scale reaction mechanisms to understand how to design better catalysts whether the goal is a commodity chemical made from CO2 or an anticorrosion coating for the US Navy.Joining Dr. Keith on the study were PhD students Karthikeyan Saravanan and Yasemin Basdogan as well as James Dean, a former undergraduate researcher that was supported by Pitt’s NSF-sponsored Particle-based Functional Materials Research Experience for Undergraduates program.About Dr. KeithJohn Keith is a tenure-track assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Energy and affiliated with Pitt’s Center for Energy as its R. K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. After obtaining his PhD from Caltech, he was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ulm and then an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University. He began his appointment at Pitt in September 2013. His group uses first-principles based computational chemistry modeling to study chemical reaction mechanisms and design materials and catalysts for energy storage and conversion. Current research activities focus on atomic scale mechanisms for CO2 conversion, computer-aided design of molecular chelants, and tuning oxide materials for catalysis via doping. In 2017, Dr. Keith received a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.About Journal of Materials Chemistry AThe Journal of Materials Chemistry A publishes research related to “high impact applications, properties, and synthesis of exciting new materials for energy and sustainability.” The journal has an impact factor of 8.262, and there are 48 issues per year in addition to its themed collections. The Royal Society of Chemistry has more than 54,000 members internationally and publishes 43 peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Materials Chemistry A and its two sister publications: Journal of Materials Chemistry B and Journal of Materials Chemistry C. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
May
30
2017

Carborane research by ChemE researcher Giannis Mpourmpakis lands cover of Catalysis Science & Technology

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (May 30, 2017) … Research at the University of Pittsburgh into a more energy-efficient catalytic process to produce olefins, the building blocks for polymer production, was recently featured on the inside front cover of the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Catalysis Science & Technology (21 May 2017, Issue 10). The team’s investigations could impact potential applications in diverse technology areas from green energy and sustainable chemistry to materials engineering and catalysis. “Carboranes: the strongest Brønsted acids in alcohol dehydration” (DOI: 10.1039/C7CY00458C) was authored by Giannis Mpourmpakis, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering. PhD candidate Pavlo Kostetskyy and undergraduate student Nicholas A. Zervoudis, part of Mpourmpakis’ Computer-Aided Nano and Energy Lab (C.A.N.E.LA.), are co-authors. Pitt’s Center for Simulation and Modeling provided computational support. “Carboranes are one of the strongest known acids, but little is known about how these molecular catalysts can dehydrate biomass-derived alcohols,” Dr. Mpourmpakis explained. “Our computational research not only detailed the mechanism under which alcohols dehydrate on these catalysts, but most importantly we developed linear relationships between the energy input needed to observe dehydration of alcohols and the alcohol characteristics.” According to the paper, “these obtained relationships are especially relevant to the field of solid acid catalysis, a widely studied area with a vast range of industrial applications, including the formation of olefins (polymer building blocks) from biomass-derived alcohols as well as fuels and chemicals from sugars and polyols.” The group’s research focused on primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols, and revealed the slope of linear relationships depending on the reaction mechanism. “This research is important because now experimentalists have a way to identify the reaction followed when different alcohols dehydrate,” Mpourmpakis said. “Because this process involves biomass-based production of polymers, we can potentially create a more sustainable and energy-efficient process.” ### Image above: Inside front cover of Catalysis Science & Technology. Catal. Sci. Technol., 2017, 7, 1974-1974 - Reproduced by permission of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

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