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
11
2019

Swanson School’s Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Presents Hanwant Singh with 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award

Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (April 11, 2019) ... 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 Hanwant Singh, MS ’70, PhD ChE ‘72, Scientist (retired) at the NASA Ames Research Center and Director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory at SRI. The six individuals representing each of the Swanson School’s departments and one overall honoree representing the entire school gathered at the 55th annual Distinguished Alumni Banquet at the University of Pittsburgh’s Alumni Hall to accept their awards. James R. Martin II, US Steel Dean of Engineering, led the banquet for the first time since starting his tenure at Pitt in the fall. “For the past 25 years, Dr. Singh has applied the knowledge he gained from the Indian Institute of Technology and Pitt to better understand the composition and chemistry of our atmosphere,” said Dean Martin. “We would like to acknowledge him for his contributions in the field of climate science and in recognition of his research legacy at NASA.” About Hanwant B. Singh Hanwant Singh graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Delhi, India in 1968 and earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 1972. He completed further postdoctoral research at Rutgers University. His research focus shifted from engineering to the environment. His primary research goal has been to better understand the impact of human activities on the chemistry and climate of the earth's atmosphere through direct observations and data analysis. Together with his co-workers, Dr. Singh has published over 220 scientific papers (h-index: 84; 21000 citations) and one textbook in this area. An environmental focus has provided him the opportunity to dedicate his efforts towards a highly relevant societal concern as well as the privilege of collaborating with partners from around the world. He shared the HJ Allen Prize for best paper with Nobel Laureate P. Crutzen. Prior to his recent retirement, Dr. Singh led a group of scientists at the NASA Ames Research Center and was a Director of the Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratory at SRI, formerly the Stanford Research Institute. Dr. Singh believes the rigorous scientific training he received at the University of Pittsburgh has provided him with the solid foundation to embrace new ideas and challenges. Being recognized by the Chemical Engineering Department and receiving the “225 medallion” from the University of Pittsburgh are “momentous.” ###

Apr
9
2019

Pitt Chem-E-Car Team Qualifies for National Competition in the Fall

All SSoE News, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (April 9, 2019) — Undergraduate students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering brought two cars sailing to the finish line in this year’s Regional Chem-E-Car Competition at the 2019 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) MidAtlantic Regional Student Conference. Their placements qualify them to compete in the AIChE Chem-E-Car International Competition at the AIChE Annual Conference, held in Orlando, Fla., in November. The Pitt team placed third and fifth for their two cars out of the 23 raced in the competition.  The qualifying teams are: 1.Virginia Tech 2.Stony Brook University3.University of Pittsburgh4.City College of New York 5.University of Pittsburgh (2)6.Rutgers University The Chem-E-Car Competition requires student teams to create a small car with chemical propulsion and stopping mechanisms such that it will travel a specified distance and carry a payload (0-500 ml of water). Prior to the competition, all teams had to complete safety training and testing and submit an engineering documentation package. Teams also had to provide a poster detailing the research they conducted for the creation of their car and pass the safety inspection to ensure that their car will compete safely. “The team was able to successfully create not only one car that placed in the top five, but two. It’s an impressive feat that they should be proud of,” says Taryn Bayles, PhD, vice chair for education and professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the Swanson School. “We’re excited to see what the competition in November brings.” On the day of the competition, the team received their chemicals and were provided the distance that their car must travel, which was 56 feet this year. The MidAtlantic Regional Student Conference, which included institutions in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, took place April 5-7, 2019, at Penn State University. Pitt’s Chem-E-Car team is made of a diverse group of students who range from freshmen to seniors with majors in chemical engineering, biology, and electrical and computer engineering. Chem-E-Car team members who were at the Regional Conference include:  Michael Bosley, Michael Bremer, Simon Cao, Claibourne Countess, Jean Fiore, Nicholas Hages, Pamela Keller, Harold Moll, Kevin Padgett, Anthony Popovski, Charles Robinson, Mor Shimshi, Grace Watson and Shiva Yagobian. The team was sponsored by Lubrizol and BASF. In addition to the ChemE Car competition, the ChemE Jeopardy team competed against 18 other teams, and after three rounds of competition made it to the finals to face teams from UPenn and Johns Hopkins. Jeopardy team members included Michael Bremer, Kenton Quach, Charles Robinson and Nicholas Youwakim.
Maggie Pavlick
Apr
5
2019

For Those Too Tired to Brush

Chemical & Petroleum, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

Reposted with permission from Pittwire. Emily Siegel, a Pitt senior majoring in chemical engineering and biological sciences, admits she’s part of a generation of ever busy, on-the-go multitaskers. Like many people her age, she’s fallen into bed after a long day of classes and late night of studying without even brushing her teeth, too drained to get up. The exhausting experience has propelled Siegel’s entrepreneurial path. In a product design class last fall, chemical engineering professor and veteran innovator-entrepreneur Eric Beckman gave an assignment: “He challenged us to think of a problem and come up with a product to solve it,” she said. The memory of those multiple late nights sparked her idea. “If I had something on my nightstand that I could use right then…” she thought. Her solution: Trek, a biodegradable chewing gum that kills bacteria and removes and prevents plaque, marketed initially toward busy young adults. Siegel’s attention-grabbing pitch cites a study by insurer Delta Dental that leaves little doubt that there’s a real problem for Trek to solve: The research found that 37 percent of adults ages 18 to 24 have gone two or more days without brushing their teeth. Siegel pitches Trek as better than what’s on the market today: It removes and prevents plaque, something ordinary gum can’t do, she said. “And it’s better for the environment because it creates no plastic waste, unlike disposable single-use toothbrushes. It’s 100% biodegradable.” Siegel envisions that this product not only will benefit busy millennials, but also will appeal to travelers, members of the military and people in places where clean water is difficult to come by. It’s a winning idea that’s being advanced through the Big Idea Center, the Pitt Innovation Institute’s hub for student entrepreneurship programming. Trek took the top prize in the most recent Big Idea Blitz, a 24-hour event in which student innovators recruit fellow students to their teams and work with Innovation Institute entrepreneurs-in-residence to develop their ideas, understand the market need and hone their pitches. More big ideas The Randall Family Big Idea competition, coordinated by the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, is open to all Pitt students from first-year through postdoc. Established in 2009 by Pitt alumnus Bob Randall (A&S ’65) and family, the competition is the region’s largest student innovation and entrepreneurship program. The annual competition kicks off in February, and culminates in a final round in March, in which 50 teams vie for a total of $100,000 in prize money. That’s where the product became Trek, as Siegel — with only five minutes left to complete her pitch — hurriedly searched for synonyms for “on-the-go” and found the short and sweet name that connotes being on the move. In March, Siegel paired up with Lauren Yocum, a biology major, as Team Trek to compete in the Randall Family Big Idea Competition. They finished first among 50 finalists. Sam Bunke, a chemical engineering major, who, like Siegel and Yocum will graduate in December, has joined the team to further advance the product. Trek’s prize money — $1,500 from the Big Idea Blitz and the $25,000 Randall Family Big Idea Competition grand prize — are going toward further development of this idea around which Siegel intends to create a company and an entrepreneurial career. Her summer plans include participating in Pitt’s Blast Furnace student accelerator. Babs Carryer, director of the Big Idea Center, said, “We offer award money to teams like Trek to encourage and support them in their innovation and entrepreneurial endeavors. I have high hopes for Trek being one of the Big Idea Center’s latest student startups.” Siegel’s drive and desire to take this product to market were key factors in the Big Idea Center’s decision to send Trek to represent Pitt in the ACC InVenture Prize competition set for April 16-17 at North Carolina State University. The choice was made before the Randall Family Big Idea Competition winners were selected. “The Randall judges’ agreement is added confirmation that Trek is a strong competitor,” Carryer said. In 2018, Pitt’s Four Growers team, which is developing a robotic tomato harvesting system, placed second in the ACC competition after winning the Randall Family Big Idea competition. The company recently moved into offices on Pittsburgh’s North Shore. The ACC InVenture Prize is an innovation competition in which teams of undergraduates representing Atlantic Coast Conference universities pitch their inventions or businesses to a panel of judges in front of a live audience. Five finalists will compete for a total of $30,000 in prizes. Innovation Institute entrepreneur-in-residence Don Morrison, who mentored Trek through the Randall Family Big Idea Competition, is helping the team hone its pitch and business model in anticipation of this next challenge. Morrison, former CEO of American Eagle Outfitters, is committed to helping young entrepreneurs by being the mentor he never had. “I had great business mentors who helped me understand retail, but I didn’t have an entrepreneurial mentor. Throughout my career I developed innovations that solved real problems for my companies. My solutions could have been taken to market to solve the same problem for other retailers. That’s why I’m passionate about paying it forward through entrepreneurial mentorship,” Morrison said. “The Trek team is very coachable and passionate about what they’re doing. Their idea solves a real problem. These are key ingredients for success,” he said. “I think that Trek really is a big idea.” The Randall Family Big Idea competition, coordinated by the University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute, is open to all Pitt students from first-year through postdoc. ### Established in 2009 by Pitt alumnus Bob Randall (A&S ’65) and family, the competition is the region’s largest student innovation and entrepreneurship program. The annual competition kicks off in February, and culminates in a final round in March, in which 50 teams vie for a total of $100,000 in prize money. Read more about this year’s winning teams on the Innovation Institute blog, or take a peek at the finalists’ pitch videos.
Kimberly K. Barlow, University Communications
Mar
28
2019

Four Pitt engineering faculty capture more than $2 million in total NSF CAREER awards for 2018/2019

Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, MEMS, Diversity

PITTSBURGH (March 28, 2019) … Four faculty members from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering have been named CAREER Award recipients by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Recognized as the NSF’s most competitive award for junior faculty, the grants total more than $2 million in funding both for research and community engagement. The CAREER program “recognizes faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.” The four awards – one each in the departments of Chemical and Petroleum, Civil and Environmental, Electrical and Computer, and Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science – are the second most received by Pitt and Swanson School faculty in a single NSF CAREER funding announcement. Previously in 2017, five Swanson School faculty were recipients. “Federal funding for academic research is extremely competitive, especially for faculty just beginning their academic careers. Receiving four prestigious NSF CAREER Awards in one cycle – exceeded only by our five two years ago – is a reflection of our winners’ distinctive research and support by their respective departments and the Swanson School,” noted David Vorp, PhD, the Swanson School’s Associate Dean for Research. He added, “Since a CAREER Award is also focused on community engagement, this is an opportunity for our faculty and their graduate students to promote STEM to children in the area, especially in underserved populations, and we will be working with them to develop impactful outreach programs.”Dr. Vorp also noted that the Swanson School’s recent success with CAREER awards can be attributed to a number of factors, including the School’s Center for Faculty Excellence, directed by Prof. Anne Robertson, and the CAREER writing group developed and run by Julie Myers-Irvin, PhD, the Swanson School’s Grants Developer. “Participating faculty acknowledge that the writing group focus on early preparation, group comradery, technical feedback, and discussions of grantsmanship practices attribute to more well-rounded proposals,” Dr. Myers-Irvin says.The award recipients include:Murat Akcakaya, Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering, with Carla A. Mazefsky, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and PsychologyTitle: Toward a Biologically Informed Intervention for Emotionally Dysregulated Adolescents and Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (#1844885)Summary: Although clinical techniques are used to help patients with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) respond to stress and other factors, none are known to couple with technology that could monitor brain response in real time and provide the patient with feedback. Drs. Akcakaya and Mazefsky are developing a new intervention using electroencephalography (EEG)-guided, non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) technology could complement clinical treatments and improve emotion regulation in people with ASD.Dr. Akcakaya will also develop courses related to the research and outreach activities to promote STEM and ASD research to K-12 populations and the broader public. Outreach will focus especially on individuals with ASD, their families, and caretakers. Susan Fullerton, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering ($540,000)Title:Scaling Electrolytes to a Single Monolayer for Low-Power Ion-Gated Electronics with Unconventional Characteristics (#1847808)Summary: Two-dimensional (2D) materials are being explored for their exciting new physics that can impart novel functionalities in application spaces such as information storage, neuromorphic computing, and hardware security. Dr. Fullerton and her group invented a new type of ion-containing material, or electrolyte, which is only a single molecule thick. This “monolayer electrolyte” will ultimately introduce new functions that can be used by the electronic materials community to explore the fundamental properties of new semiconductor materials and to increase storage capacity, decrease power consumption, and vastly accelerate processing speed.The NSF award will support a PhD student and postdoctoral researcher, as well as an outreach program to inspire curiosity and engagement of K-12 and underrepresented students in materials for next-generation electronics. Specifically, Dr. Fullerton has developed an activity where students can watch the polymer electrolytes used in this study crystallize in real-time using an inexpensive camera attached to a smart phone or iPad. The CAREER award will allow Dr. Fullerton to provide this microscope to classrooms so that the teachers can continue exploring with their students. Tevis Jacobs, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science ($500,000)Title: Understanding Nanoparticle Adhesion to Guide the Surface Engineering of Supporting Structures (#1844739) Summary: Although far thinner than a human hair, metal nanoparticles play an important role in advanced industries and technologies from electronics and pharmaceuticals to catalysts and sensors. Nanoparticles can be as small as ten atoms in diameter, and their small size makes them especially susceptible to coarsening with continued use, which reduces functionality and degrades performance. Dr. Jacobs will utilize electron microscopy to develop new methods to measure the attachment and stability of nanoparticles on surfaces under various conditions, allowing researchers to enhance both surfaces and nanoparticles in tandem to work more effectively together.Additionally, Dr. Jacobs and his lab group will engage with the University of Pittsburgh School of Education and a local elementary school to create and nationally disseminate surface engineering-focused curricular units for sixth- to eighth-grade students and professional development training modules for teachers. Carla Ng, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering ($500,000)Title: Harnessing biology to tackle fluorinated alkyl substances in the environment (#1845336) Summary: Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals that are useful in a variety of industries because of their durability, but do not naturally break down in the environment or human body. Because of their useful oil- and water-repellent properties, PFAS are used in many consumer products, industrial processes, and in firefighting foams, but unfortunately, their manufacturing and widespread use has contributed to the undesired release of these chemicals into the environment. With evidence showing that PFAS may have adverse effects on human health, Dr. Ng wants to further investigate the potential impacts of these chemicals and identify ways to remove them from the environment. She plans to elevate K-12 and undergraduate education through the use of collaborative model-building in a game-like environment. Dr. Ng in particular will utilize the agent-based modeling language NetLogo, a freely available and accessible model-building tool that can be equally powerful for cutting edge research or for students exploring new STEM concepts in science and engineering. ###

Mar
28
2019

Northwestern Engineering Dean Julio M. Ottino Selected as 2019 Covestro Distinguished Lecturer at Pitt

All SSoE News, Chemical & Petroleum

PITTSBURGH (March 27, 2019) — In honor of his influential work in diverse fields from fluid dynamics to geophysical sciences, Northwestern University’s Julio M. Ottino, PhD has been chosen as this year’s Covestro Distinguished Lecturer by the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. Dr. Ottino is currently the dean of the Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University and Applied Science at Northwestern University. He also holds the titles of Distinguished Robert R. McCormick Institute Professor and Walter P. Murphy Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. His research has been featured on the covers of Nature, Science, Scientific American, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, and other publications. 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. “The effects of Dr. Ottino’s work have rippled through so many fields, including fluid dynamics, granular dynamics, microfluidics, geophysical sciences, and nonlinear dynamics and chaos,” says Steven R. Little, PhD, the William Kepler Whiteford Professor and Chair of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Swanson School.  “Our department is honored to welcome such a widely influential scientist to our campus.” “Covestro is proud to sponsor the Distinguished Lecture Series through our continued partnership with the Swanson School of Engineering, and we join the university in extending a warm welcome to this year’s deserving honoree,” said Don S. Wardius, Senior Manager of University Relations, Covestro LLC. “Dr. Ottino’s impressive career reflects a passion for innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainability – all of which align with Covestro’s vision to make the world a brighter place.” Dr. Ottino received his PhD in chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota and held positions at UMass/Amherst and chaired and held senior appointments at Caltech and Stanford. He has been recognized by AlChE with the Alpha Chi Sigma Award, the William H. Walker Award, the Institute Lecture, and was named one of the “100 Chemical Engineers of the Modern Area.” He was awarded the Fluid Dynamics Prize from the American Physical Society. In 2017, Ottino was awarded the Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education from the National Academy of Engineering, the nation’s highest award for engineering education, for the development of Whole-Brain Engineering at Northwestern. He is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The Covestro lectures will be held on Thursday, April 4, at 5 p.m. with a reception to follow, and on Friday, April 5, at 9:30 a.m. Both lectures will be held in 102 Benedum Hall, 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: When Art, Technology, and Science Were One: Why They Split, and Why They May Join AgainThursday, April 4, at 5 p.m. – Benedum 102 (Reception follows) There was a time before science and technology were known by those names. Art, technology, and science formed a continuum, and the modes of thinking enriched each other. The 16th century has many examples of cooperative enterprises between scientists and artists; Galileo Galilei may be the clearest case of Italian Renaissance art affecting the course of science. Galileo is also associated with birth of the scientific method, and the scientific method changed everything: science broke company with art, and mixing imagery with analytical thinking became suspect (at least by some). This view is far too narrow—visual imagination is a central element of scientific imagination. This talk with cover the links between art, technology, and science through time, starting when people had a foot in two camps and when new technologies appeared and the scientific basics of those technologies were still evolving, until reaching examples of the present time. It closes with lessons that can be transferred across domains. Lecture 2: The Evolution of Mixing: From Stretching and Folding to Cutting and Shuffling: Parallels, Divergences, and LessonsFriday, April 5, at 9:30 p.m. – Benedum 102 The birth of mixing of fluids and some of the first incursions into granular matter and segregation offer valuable insights and lessons. These two topics developed in wildly different ways and serve as examples of the power of couching ideas in mathematical formalisms, but also of the challenges that ensue when a general formalism is elusive. We present an array of results, spanning fluid mixing at one extreme and granular matter and segregation at the other. Examples cover vibration, surface flow, segregation, and pattern formation, and serve to illustrate how fundamental work can affect fields as far apart as multiple branches of engineering and geophysical sciences. ### 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, which is among the world’s largest polymer companies with 2018 sales of EUR 14.6 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 healthcare industries. Other sectors include sports and leisure, cosmetics and the chemical industry itself. Covestro has 30 production sites worldwide and employed approximately 16,800 people at the end of 2018. About the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering The 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’s  research expenditures exceeded $9 million in 2018.
Maggie Pavlick

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