Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Undergraduate Overview

Chemical Engineering  

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.

The department received in 2005 a three-year $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) entitled " Pillars of Chemical Engineering: A Block Scheduled Curriculum." Led by Associate Professor Joseph J. McCarthy, the curriculum team—composed of 11 faculty from chemical as well as industrial engineering—completed the reform of the undergraduate chemical engineering curriculum into a series of six "pillar" courses. This plan was developed as part of NSF's program for Department-Level Reform of Engineering Curricula (2002), and is the basis for the larger implementation project completed in 2009.

The undergraduate chemical engineering program offers course in the following areas: thermodynamics; mass and energy balances; energy, mass, and momentum transfer; unit operations; process dynamics and control; process design; and chemical reaction engineering. These areas are covered in the student's last six terms. The first two terms of the engineering curriculum are common to all departments and are administered by the Freshman Program Office.

In addition, the curriculum offers the undergraduate student earning a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering the opportunity to enhance their education by obtaining a minor or concentration in one of several specialty areas, participating in the cooperative education program, or by performing undergraduate research.


Educational Objectives

1.     Graduates will gain employment in professional careers (often in positions of technical expertise in chemical engineering, but also including professions such as medicine, law, business, finance, non-profit organizations, government, education, etc.) and/or enroll in graduate studies. 

2.     Graduates will be committed to lifelong learning throughout their careers. 

3.     Graduates will assume positions of leadership. 

4.     Graduates will recognize the importance of utilizing their knowledge, skills, and initiative for the benefit of society and demonstrate that understanding through their interactions within their community, in government, or in society as a whole. 

Student Outcomes

a.  An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering

b.  An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data

c.  An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability

d.  An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams

e.  An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems

f.  An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility

g.  An ability to communicate effectively

h.  The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context

i.  A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning

j.  A knowledge of contemporary issues

k.  An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice

Accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.