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.

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Apr
20
2018

Covestro Distinguished Lecture honors Harvard Professor George Whitesides

Chemical & Petroleum

From The Pitt News Harvard University professor George Whitesides spoke to a crowd of about 150 people Thursday night in Benedum Hall about how chemistry can be utilized in all industries to bring opportunities for invention and productivity. “The tools from the health care and manufacturing industries can provide what we need in the real world in order to bring more opportunities that involve chemistry and innovation,” Whitesides said. The department of chemical engineering at the Swanson School of Engineering named Whitesides the 2018 Covestro distinguished lecturer — an award that recognizes excellence in chemical education, outreach and research. The lecture was sponsored by Covestro LLC, a world-leading supplier of high-tech polymer materials, and has been given annually at Pitt since 1992. ... “We research the question of our environmental maintenance in order to understand how to make the world run,” Whitesides said. “These aspects all involve chemistry.” Read the full article at The Pitt News.
Briana Canady, Staff Writer, The Pitt News
Apr
17
2018

Full of Hot Air and Proud of It

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (April 17, 2018) … Of the four states of matter, gases are the hardest to pin down.  Gas molecules move quickly and wildly and don’t like to be confined. When confined, heat and pressure build in the container, and it doesn’t take long before the gas blows the lid. Luckily, gases are superficial. Provide them with an attractive internal surface area, and they’ll pin themselves down in no time. No, it’s not love at first sight, it’s adsorption.“Adsorption is the processes of gas pinning to the surface of another material—the inside walls of a container, for example,” says Chris Wilmer, assistant professor in Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. “When adsorption occurs, the gas molecules stop bumping into each other, reducing pressure. So, by increasing a container’s internal surface area, we can store more gas in less space.”Dr. Wilmer directs the Hypothetical Materials Lab, where he and his research group develop new ways to store, separate, and transport gases. The study, “Thermal Transport in Interpenetrated Metal-Organic Frameworks” (DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b05015), published in the American Chemical Society journal Chemistry of Materials, was featured on the journal cover with an image designed by Kutay Sezginel, a chemical engineering graduate student in Dr. Wilmer’s Lab, depicting interpenetrated metal organic frameworks or MOFs.MOFs are a promising class of porous materials, made of metal clusters bound to organic molecules. Discovered fewer than two decades ago, MOFs help rein in gases because their porous nanostructure has an extremely high surface area and can be custom engineered to be particularly sticky to certain gas molecules. MOFs are used for a variety of functions including gas storage, gas separation, sensing, and catalysis.In the study, the researchers discovered that MOFs can dissipate even more heat from confined gases when they are woven into each other or “interpenetrated.” In fact, parallel, interpenetrated MOFs can cool off gases roughly at the same rate of two MOFs individually. In other words, gases don’t mind close quarters if those quarters are MOFs.More efficient gas storage could lead to new possibilities in sustainable energy production and use. Oil remains the preferred power source for most transportation vehicles, but natural gas is a cheaper, more abundant, and cleaner alternative. Compressed natural gas tanks are too heavy and expensive to replace traditional gasoline tanks, but adsorbed natural gas tanks are both light and cheap. A MOF tank can store same amount of fuel as typical gas tanks but with a quarter of the pressure. That’s only one potential application.“Medical oxygen tanks, storing hazardous gases from semiconductor manufacturing, and technologies that aim to capture, separate, and store carbon from the air can all benefit from MOFs,” says Dr. Wilmer. “We believe MOFs have the same potential impact on the 21st century as plastics did in the 20th.” Idealized interpenetrated MOF structure. The entangled MOF can dissipate heat roughly two times faster than the constituent MOFs could separately, potentially enabling more efficient gas storage. ###
Matt Cichowicz, Communications Writer
Apr
9
2018

Harvard Chemist George Whitesides Named 2018 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer at Pitt

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (April 9, 2018) … In recognition of his exemplary research in the fields of surface chemistry, microfluidics and nanotechnology, Harvard University’s George Whitesides has been named the 2018 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer by the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dr. Whitesides currently is the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard’s Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology. The Covestro Distinguished Lectureship (a continuation of the Bayer Distinguished Lectureship) is presented annually by the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and recognizes excellence in chemical education, outreach and research. The lecture is sponsored by Covestro LLC, a world-leading supplier of high-tech polymer materials. “From his groundbreaking research in surface chemistry, Dr. Whitesides advanced the field of nanoscience and impacted diverse fields from electronics to medicine,” said Steven R. Little, PhD, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School. “His innovations have helped to bridge so many disciplines and impacted the careers of several of our faculty, and so our department is honored to welcome him.”“Covestro is proud to sponsor this event in partnership with the Swanson School of Engineering, and we join the university in welcoming Dr. Whitesides back to Pittsburgh,” said Don S. Wardius, Manager of University Relations, Covestro LLC. “Through his pioneering contributions to diagnostics, chemistry, biology and polymer science, Dr. Whitesides embodies Covestro’s passion for pushing boundaries in the pursuit of innovation. We’re honored to support a platform where he can share his insights with the next generation of innovators.”Dr. Whitesides received his AB degree from Harvard University in 1960, and PhD from the California Institute of Technology in 1964 (with J.D. Roberts). He began his independent career at M.I.T., and is now the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard University. His current research interests include physical and organic chemistry, materials science, biophysics, water, self-assembly, complexity and simplicity, origin of life, dissipative systems, affordable diagnostics, and soft robotics.The Covestro lectures will be on Thursday, April 19 at 5:00 pm with a reception following, and Friday, April 20 at 9:30 am. Both lectures will be presented in Benedum Hall Room 102, 3700 O’Hara Street. The lectures are open to the public. For more information, email che@engr.pitt.edu or call 412-624-9630.Lecture 1: How to Think About “Who Cares?” in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering  Thursday, April 19, 5:00 p.m. - Benedum 102 (Reception follows) ABSTRACT: Chemistry, and the world of science and technology of which it is a part, are changing dramatically.  Biology, materials, nanotechnology, and other less familiar/popular areas offer opportunities; the decline in invention in the chemical industry, and of productivity in the pharmaceutical industry, limits opportunities. One future for chemistry is the emergence of new fields; another is absorption by other disciplines. Every area of science faces periods of maturation and reinvention. What are the indicators for chemistry at this time? Does the history of other fields offer useful lessons?Lecture 2: Simplicity as a Strategy in ResearchFriday, April 20, 9:30 a.m. - Benedum 102ABSTRACT: “Simplicity” as a Component of Invention. “Complexity” is relatively simple to think about (at least for academics); “simplicity” is more complex. This seminar will consider “simplicity” (together with an idea we call “stackability”) as a parameter to guide strategy in research, using two examples--one from ongoing large-scale technology, and one from our own research. ### About Covestro LLCCovestro LLC is one of the leading producers of high-performance polymers in North America and is part of the global Covestro business, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 2017 sales of EUR 14.1 billion. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, construction, wood processing and furniture, electrical and electronics and medical industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 16,200 people at the end of 2017.About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum EngineeringThe Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering serves undergraduate and graduate engineering students, the University and industry, through education, research, and participation in professional organizations and regional/national initiatives. 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.

Apr
6
2018

Eleven Pitt Students Awarded 2018 National Science Foundation Fellowships

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Student Profiles

University of Pittsburgh News Release PITTSBURGH – Eleven University of Pittsburgh students and four alumni were awarded the 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Eleven Pitt students and four alumni also received honorable mentions. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is designed to ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce in the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 as well as a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees. The fellowship program has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The support accorded NSF Graduate Research Fellows nurtures their ambition to become lifelong leaders who contribute significantly to both scientific innovation and teaching. Among this year's Pitt cohort, eight undergraduate and graduate students were awarded fellowships, joined by two Swanson School alumni now in graduate school. Four undergraduate and graduate students and one alumnus received honorable mentions. Mary Besterfield-Sacre, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, attributed this year's increase in winners from engineering to a strategically focused mentor-mentee program. “The program diversity among this year’s Swanson School NSF fellows is thanks in great part to Bioengineering Professor Pat Loughlin for working with each department to identify strong candidates and faculty mentors to help them build winning portfolios,” Dr. Besterfield-Sacre said. “The NSF Graduate Research Program is incredibly competitive and we’re especially proud that undergraduates make up half of our fellows.” Current Pitt students who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship are seniors from: - Swanson School of Engineering: Abraham Charles Cullom (civil and environmental engineering), Vani Hiremath Sundaram (mechanical engineering and material science), Adam Lewis Smoulder (bioengineering) and Henry Phalen (bioengineering); and graduate students Megan Routzong (bioengineering), Monica Fei Liu (bioengineering), Angelica Janina Herrera (bioengineering) and Sarah Hemler (bioengineering). - Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences: Graduate students Brett Baribault Bankson (psychology), Stefanie Lee Sequeira (psychology) and Alaina Nicole McDonnell (chemistry). Current Pitt students who received honorable mentions are from: - Swanson School of Engineering: seniors Anthony Joseph O’Brian (chemical and petroleum engineering), Anthony Louis Mercader (mechanical engineering and material science), Zachary Smith (electrical and computer engineering); and graduate student Maria Kathleen Jantz (bioengineering). - Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences: graduate students Amy Ryan (chemistry), Kathryn Mae Rothenhoefer (neuroscience), Andrea Marie Fetters (biological sciences), Mariah Denhart, (biological sciences), Timothy Stephen Coleman (statistics), Hope Elizabeth Anne Brooks (biological sciences), Mary Elizabeth Rouse Braza (geology and environmental science). Alumni who were awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship include Thomas Robert Werkmeister (engineering science) and Luke Drnach (bioengineering) from the Swanson School, and Julianne Griffith (psychology and sociology) and Aleza Wallace (psychology) from the Dietrich School. Alumni who received honorable mentions include Corey Williams (bioengineering) from the Swanson School, Sarah Elise Post (biological sciences), Hannah Katherine Dollish (neuroscience and Slavik studies) and Krista Bullard (chemistry), the latter three from the Dietrich School. Visit https://www.fastlane.nsf.gov/grfp/Login.do for a full list of fellows and honorable mentions and to learn more about the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. # # #
Amerigo Allegretto, University Communications
Apr
4
2018

Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Presents James M. Pommersheim with 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award

All SSoE News, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (April 4, 2018) … This year’s Distinguished Alumni from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering have worked with lesson plans and strategic plans, cosmetics and the cosmos, brains and barrels and bridges. It’s a diverse group, but each honoree shares two things in common on their long lists of accomplishments: outstanding achievement in their fields, and of course, graduation from the University of Pittsburgh. This year’s recipient for the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering is James M. Pommersheim, BSCHE ’60, MS ’62, PhD ’70, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University. The six individuals representing each of the Swanson School’s departments and one overall honoree representing the entire school gathered at the 54th annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall to accept their awards. Gerald D. Holder, US Steel Dean of Engineering, led the banquet for the final time before his return to the faculty this fall. “An accomplished researcher, Jim is also a passionate teacher and has worked to recognize our outstanding educators,” said Dean Holder. “His teaching awards at Bucknell are numerous, and in kind, he established the James Martin Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching here at our Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. We thank Jim for his dedication to teaching both the countless students of the past and our Pitt students of tomorrow.” About James M. Pommersheim James M. Pommersheim received three degrees from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Chemical Engineering: his BSCHE in 1960, his MS in 1962, and his PhD in 1970. He first became interested in teaching while serving as a teaching assistant at Pitt where he had many opportunities to interact with the faculty of the department, most notably its chair, Edward Stuart. These engagements led to his successful tenure as Professor of Chemical Engineering at Bucknell University from 1965 to 2003 and the fall semester of 2006. Dr. Pommersheim specialized in conceptual and mathematical modeling in chemical engineering with research centered on transport in cementitious systems. At Bucknell he was instrumental in establishing the transport theory sequences of courses as well as a course in applied mathematics which emphasized modeling along with mathematical methods. He also taught operations research in the Management Department. He served as Visiting Research Professor at The Pennsylvania State University in the summer semesters of 1988 and 1989. At Syracuse University, he served as Visiting Professor, Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering, in the Spring semesters of 2005, 2006, and 2011. In 2014, Pitt’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering established the James Martin Pommersheim Award for Excellence in Teaching in honor of a significant legacy gift made by Dr. Pommersheim. The award recognizes one outstanding departmental faculty member annually in the areas of lecturing, teaching, research methodology, and research mentorship of students, as well as the conduction of seminars, tutorials, and recitations. In addition to his extensive teaching career, Dr. Pommersheim served as a research associate for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Occidental Research and Petroleum, Mobil Oil, and NASA. He provided consulting services for the Center for Building Technology and for the Materials Research Institute at Penn State. He has authored a number of publications and held many presentations at national and international meetings. Dr. Pommersheim is a member of AIChE as well as several other professional and honorary societies. His specific honors and awards include: Faculty Advisor to Outstanding Senior Design Teams in the Smith College of Engineering, Syracuse University (2005 and 2006); Outstanding Paper Award from the Society of Coating Technology (1996); ASEE Mid-Atlantic Region Award for Excellence in Instruction of Engineering (1984); Class of 1956 Award for Inspirational Teaching, Bucknell University (1985); Invited Scholar, Faculty Development Program of Queen’s University (1982); and the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, Bucknell University (1979). ###

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