Pitt | Swanson Engineering
Undergraduate Program 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.