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.

Feb
9
2016

Pitt’s Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Department recruits electrochemical energy researcher James McKone from Cornell

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (February 9, 2016) … Expanding its strengths in energy and sustainability research, the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has hired James R. McKone, PhD as assistant professor. Dr. McKone, currently a postdoctoral research associate at Cornell University, will join Pitt in August 2016.“As an award-winning young researcher, James brings a breadth of experience from some of the leading energy and sustainability research labs, including those at Cornell and Caltech,” noted Steven R. Little, PhD, department chair and professor. “His expertise will be a perfect fit for Pitt’s Center for Energy and the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, as well as our own department’s research in the field.”“From my first visit to campus the summer of 2015, I was impressed by the sense of collaboration and enthusiasm exuded by Pitt's Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering," Dr. McKone said. "I am excited to be part of a growing team of researchers at Pitt and in the larger Pittsburgh community working to advance the field of energy technology.”Dr. McKone earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry (summa cum laude) and music from Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., and a PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he was a Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Research Fellow under the direction of Nathan S. Lewis and Harry B. Gray. During his post-doc at Cornell, he mentored under Héctor D. Abruña and Francis J. DiSalvo. He is the recipient of a DOE EERE Postdoctoral Research Award, Caltech’s Milton and Francis Clauser Prize for the “most exemplary PhD thesis” (across all fields and departments at Caltech), the Demetriades-Tsafka-Kokkalis Prize in Renewable Energy (for best thesis, publication, or discovery in renewable energy) and the Everhart Lecture Award for dynamic speaking skills and research impact. In addition to several publications and presentations, Dr. McKone has pursued multiple patents in energy storage technologies. About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum EngineeringThe Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering serves undergraduate and graduate engineering students, the University and our industry, through education, research, and participation in professional organizations and regional/national initiatives. Our commitment to the future of the chemical process industry drives the development of educational and research programs. The Department has a tradition of excellence in education and research, evidenced by recent national awards including numerous NSF CAREER Awards, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, among others. Active areas of research in the Department include Biological and Biomedical Systems; Energy and Sustainability; and Materials Modeling and Design. The faculty has a record of success in obtaining research funding such that the Department ranks within the top 25 U.S. chemical engineering departments for federal R&D spending in recent years with annual research expenditures exceeding $7 million. The vibrant research culture within the Department includes active collaboration with the adjacent University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Simulation and Modeling, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering and the U.S. DOE-affiliated Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions. ###

Feb
8
2016

UC Berkeley Professor and world-renowned catalysis researcher Gábor Somorjai named 2016 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer at Pitt

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (February 8, 2016) … In recognition of his exemplary research in the fields of catalysis and surface chemistry, the University of California’s Gábor A. Somorjai has been named the 2016 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer by Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dr. Somorjai is Professor of Chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratory managed by the University of California. The Covestro Distinguished Lectureship, a continuation of the Bayer Distinguished Lectureship, recognizes excellence in chemical education, outreach and research, and is funded by Covestro LLC. Dr. Somorjai will present lectures on Thursday, May 5 at 5:00 pm with a reception following, and Friday, May 6 at 9:30 am. Both lectures will be presented in Benedum Hall Room 102, 3700 O’Hara Street. Parking is limited. For more information, email che@engr.pitt.edu or call 412-624-9630. “The field of catalysis is synonymous with Dr. Somorjai, and we are honored to present him with this year’s award,” noted Steven R. Little, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School. “Catalysis is an integral part of our department’s research and curriculum, and so we welcome Dr. Somorjai and look forward to his insight in this rapidly evolving field.” Gabor A. Somorjai has been a leader in the field of Catalysis for more than 45 years.  He has published more than 1200 papers and 4 books. Somorjai received his PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1960 and he was appointed to the faculty there in 1964.  Since then, he has won just about every honor in his field, among them the Nichols Medal (2014), NAS Award in Chemical Sciences (2013), the Honda Prize, the ENI New Frontiers of Hydrocarbons Prize and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Basic Sciences (2011), the Priestley Medal (2008), the Langmuir prize from the American Physical Society (2007), the National Medal of Science (2002), the Wolf Prize (1998), the von Hippel Award from the Materials Research Society, and Peter Debye Award from the American Chemical Society (1989). He became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1979 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1983. Lecture 1: Metal Nanocatalysts, Their Synthesis and Size Dependent Covalent Bond Catalysis:  Instrumentation for Characterization under Reaction Conditions May 5, 2016, 5:00 p.m. - Benedum 102 (Reception follows) ABSTRACT: Colloidal chemistry is used to control the size, shape and composition of metal nanoparticles usually in the 1-10 nm range.  In-situ methods are used to characterize the size, structure (electronic and atomic), bonding, composition and oxidation states under reaction conditions.  These methods include sum frequency generation nonlinear optical spectroscopy (SFG), ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (APXPS) and high pressure scanning tunneling microscope (STM).  The catalytic behavior depends on the oxidation state, coordination number, crystallographic orientation of metal sites and bonding and orientation of surface adsorbates. Lecture 2: Oxide-metal Interfaces as Active Sites for Acid-base Catalysis: Oxidation State of Nanocatalyst Change with Decreasing Size, Conversion of Heterogeneous to Homogeneous Catalysis, Hybrid Systems May 6, 2016, 9:30 a.m. - Benedum 102 ABSTRACT: When metal nanoparticles are placed on different mezoporous or microporous oxide supports the catalytic turnover rates and selectivities markedly change.  The charge flow between the metal and the oxide ionizes the adsorbed molecules at the oxide-metal interfaces and alters the catalytic chemistry (acid-base catalysis).   The oxidation state of metal nanoparticles becomes less metallic and assume higher oxidation states with decreasing size.  The small nanoclusters behave similar to transition metal ions that are active homogeneous catalysts.  Hybrid systems composed of enzymes, homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysts are constructed to study molecularly unified catalytic schemes for the future.   About Covestro LLC Covestro LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America and is part of the global Covestro business. Covestro manufactures high-tech polymer materials and develops innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, medical and sports and leisure industries. The Covestro group has 30 production sites around the globe and employed approximately 15,700 people at the end of September 2015. About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering The Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering serves undergraduate and graduate engineering students, the University and our industry, through education, research, and participation in professional organizations and regional/national initiatives. Our commitment to the future of the chemical process industry drives the development of educational and research programs. The Department has a tradition of excellence in education and research, evidenced by recent national awards including numerous NSF CAREER Awards, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, an NIH Director's New Innovator Award, and the DOE Hydrogen Program R&D Award, among others. Active areas of research in the Department include Biological and Biomedical Systems; Energy and Sustainability; and Materials Modeling and Design. The faculty has a record of success in obtaining research funding such that the Department ranks within the top 25 U.S. ChE departments for Federal R&D spending in recent years with annual research expenditures exceeding $7 million. The vibrant research culture within the Department includes active collaboration with the adjacent University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the Center for Simulation and Modeling, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering and the U.S. DOE-affiliated Institute for Advanced Energy Solutions. ###

Feb
1
2016

Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Chair Dr. Steven Little to be inducted into AIMBE College of Fellows

Chemical & Petroleum

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 1, 2016) ... The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has announced the pending induction of Steven R. Little, PhD, William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering; Professor of Bioengineering, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Immunology, Ophthalmology and The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine; University Honors College Faculty Fellow, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, to its College of Fellows. Dr. Little was nominated, reviewed, and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for exceptional contributions to the field of controlled release and the establishment of the nascent field of biomimetic drug delivery. The College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country. The most accomplished and distinguished engineering and medical school chairs, research directors, professors, innovators, and successful entrepreneurs, comprise the College of Fellows. AIMBE Fellows are regularly recognized for their contributions in teaching, research, and innovation. AIMBE Fellows have been awarded the Presidential Medal of Science and the Presidential Medal of Technology and Innovation and many also are members of the National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. A formal induction ceremony will be held during AIMBE’s 25th Annual Meeting at the National Academy of Sciences Great Hall in Washington, DC on April 4, 2016. Dr. Little will be inducted along with 160 colleagues who make up the AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2016. For more information about the AIMBE Annual Meet, please visit www.aimbe.org. AIMBE’s mission is to recognize excellence in, and advocate for, the fields of medical and biological engineering in order to advance society. Since 1991, AIMBE‘s College of Fellows has lead the way for technological growth and advancement in the fields of medical and biological engineering. Fellows have helped revolutionize medicine and related fields in order to enhance and extend the lives of people all over the world. They have also successfully advocated for public policies that have enabled researchers and business-makers to further the interests of engineers, teachers, scientists, clinical practitioners, and ultimately, patients. More About Dr. Little Dr. Steven Little is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, Immunology, Ophthalmology and The McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is a University Honors College Faculty Fellow. Dr. Little received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from MIT in 2005, with his thesis winning the American Association for Advancement of Science’s Excellence in Research Award. In May of 2012, Dr. Little was appointed as the 12th Chairman of the Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, one of the oldest Departments of its type in the world, dating back to 1910. In his first year on the Pitt faculty (2006), Dr. Little was appointed as a Distinguished Faculty Fellow in Engineering, the only Assistant Professor to hold this position. In 2007, he received career development awards from both the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health (K-Award). In 2008, Dr. Little was named as one of only 16 Beckman Young Investigators by the Arnold & Mabel Beckman Foundation. Dr. Little is the only individual from the University of Pittsburgh to have ever received this award. In 2009, he was presented with the Board of Visitors Award that denotes the “single most outstanding faculty member in the School of Engineering.” In 2010, he received the Coulter Translational Research Award from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation. In 2011, Dr. Little was named the recipient of the Society For Biomaterials' Young Investigator Award. In 2012, Dr. Little received the University of Pittsburgh's Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award, and by winning the 2013 Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, Dr. Little stands as the only professor in School history to receive both the teaching and research awards. Dr. Little was also named as one of only 14 “Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholars” by the Camille & Henry Dreyfus Foundation in 2013 and also was named the recipient of the Carnegie Science Award for University Educators that year. In 2014, Dr. Little was named the winner of the Research to Prevent Blindness Innovative Ophthalmic Research Award, the recipient of a Phase II Coulter Translational Award, named one of Pittsburgh Magazine’s “40 under 40,” and highlighted as one of only five individuals in Pittsburgh who are “reshaping our world” by Pop City Media. In 2015, Dr. Little was named the winner of the Carnegie Science Award for Advanced Materials, a Fast Tracker (University Leader category) by the Pittsburgh Business Times, a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), and the winner of the 2015 Curtis W. McGraw Award from the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). Dr. Little is also a Co-Founder of Qrono Inc., a Pittsburgh-based start-up company that provides custom designed controlled release formulations for pharmaceutical companies, agricultural industry, and academic laboratories. ###

Feb
1
2016

Pitt’s Center for Medical Innovation awards four novel biomedical devices with $85,000 total Round-2 2015 Pilot Funding

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial

PITTSBURGH (February 1, 2016) … The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $85,000 to four research groups through its 2015 Round-2 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. The latest funding proposals include a nanowire glaucoma drainage implant; an emergency lung intubation device; a timed-release microsphere drug for middle-ear infections; and bioactive hydrogels for bone regeneration. CMI, a University Center housed in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering (SSOE), 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 fourth year of pilot funding, and our leadership team could not be more excited with the breadth and depth of this round’s awardees,” said Alan D. Hirschman, PhD, CMI Executive Director. “This early-stage interdisciplinary research helps to develop highly specific biomedical technologies through a proven strategy of linking UPMC’s clinicians and surgeons with the Swanson School’s engineering faculty.” AWARD 1: Self-Cleaning Smart Antibacterial SurfacesAward to design, build and test a glaucoma drainage implants with antimicrobial properties based on nanowire technologyPaul W. Leu, PhD Assistant Professor, Industrial Engineering Graham Hatfull, PhD Professor, Department of Biological Sciences Robert M.Q. Shanks, PhDAssociate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology Nils Loewen, MD, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology AWARD 2: Esophocclude (Temporary Occlusion of the Esophagus in Patients Requiring Emergent Intubation)Award to develop a new lung intubation device which minimizes the risk of gastric aspiration in emergency care and in surgical applicationsPhilip Carullo, MDResident, Department of Anesthesiology Youngjae Chun, PhD Assistant Professor, Industrial Engineering AWARD 3: Controlled release, gel-based ear drops for treatment of otitis mediaAward to develop a novel timed release microsphere drug delivery system for treatment of middle ear infectionsMorgan Fedorchak, PhD Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering Cuneyt Alper, MD Professor, Department of Ophthalmology AWARD 4: RegenMatrix (Collagen-mimetic Bioactive Hydrogels for Bone Regeneration)Award to apply develop a bioactive hydrogels to guide bone mineralization in osteoporosis and in healing of fracturesShilpa Sant, PhD Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences Yadong Wang, PhD Professor, Bioengineering Sachin Velankar, PhD Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering Charles Sfeir, DDS, PhD Associate Professor, Department of Oral Biology About 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 Office of Technology Management (OTM), and the Coulter Translational Research Partnership II (CTRP). CMI was established in 2011 to promote the application and development of innovative biomedical technologies to clinical problems; to educate the next generation of innovators in cooperation with the schools of Engineering, Health Sciences, Business, and Law; and to facilitate the translation of innovative biomedical technologies into marketable products and services in cooperation with OTM and in partnership with CTRP. ###

Jan
20
2016

Soaking It In

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (January 20, 2015) … Although compressed natural gas represents a cleaner and more efficient fuel for vehicles, its volatile nature requires a reinforced, heavy tank that stores the gas at high pressure and therefore limits vehicle design. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering are utilizing metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) to develop a new type of storage system that would adsorb the gas like a sponge and allow for more energy-efficient storage and use. The research, ­­­­“ Mechanisms of Heat Transfer in Porous Crystals Containing Adsorbed Gases: Applications to Metal-Organic Frameworks,” was published this week in the journal Physical Review Letters by Christopher E. Wilmer, assistant professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, and postdoctoral fellow Hasan Babaei. (DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.025902) Traditional CNG tanks are empty structures that require the gas to be stored at high pressure, which affects design and the weight of the vehicle. Dr. Wilmer and his lab are instead focused on porous crystal/gas systems, specifically MOFs, which possess structures with extremely high surface areas . “One of the biggest challenges in developing an adsorbed natural gas (ANG) storage system is that the process generates significant heat which limits how quickly the tank can be filled,” Dr. Wilmer said. “Unfortunately, not a lot is known about how to make adsorbents dissipate heat quickly. This study illuminates some of the fundamental mechanisms involved.”  According to Dr. Wilmer, gases have a $500 billion impact on the global economy, but storing, separating, and transporting gas requires energy-intensive compression. His research into MOFs is an extension of his start-up company, NuMat Technologies, which develops MOF-based solutions for the gas storage industry.  “By gaining a better understanding of heat transfer mechanisms at the atomic scale in porous materials, we could develop a more efficient material that would be thermally conductive rather than thermally insulating,” he explained. “Beyond natural gas, these insights could help us design better hydrogen gas storage systems as well. Any industrial process where a gas interacts with a porous material, where heat is an important factor, could potentially benefit from this research.”  For more information about Dr. Wilmer's research visit www.wilmerlab.com. ### Image above: Idealized porous crystal structure (blue spheres) containing adsorbed gas molecules (orange spheres). Gas adsorption into nanoporous crystals (e.g., metal-organic frameworks) reduces the system’s thermal conductance due to phonon scattering in the crystal due to interactions with gas molecules.
Paul Kovach

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