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.

Read our latest newsletter below



Nov
21
2019

Swanson School scores a hat-trick at 2019 Pitt Celebration of Innovation

Chemical & Petroleum, MEMS, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This article originally appeared in the University Times. Reposted with permission. PITTSBURGH (November 21, 2019) ... The Innovation Institute celebrated the Pitt faculty, students and staff who are working to make their ideas and research discoveries have a real-world impact at the 14th annual Celebration of Innovation, on Nov. 20 at the Petersen Events Center Campus View Club. “Our theme this year is ‘Powering Invention. Igniting Progress,’ and there can be no denying that the growing innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem at Pitt and in the region is igniting a firestorm of innovation across the University,” said Evan Facher, director of the Innovation Institute. In the past five fiscal years (2015-2019), the number of invention disclosures filed with the Innovation Institute by Pitt faculty, students and staff are up nearly 30 percent over the previous five-year period. Patents issued were up nearly 80 percent, and startups formed were up nearly 150 percent. Facher said in the past five years there have been 440 patents issued to Pitt-related inventions, 80 start-up companies formed and 1,700 inventions brought to the Innovation Institute —  “practically one for every day of the last five years.” The role of the Innovation Institute, he said, is to connect people from different parts of Pitt, because, “that’s where innovations take root.” There’s still plenty of opportunity for more faculty to get involved in entrepreneurship, Facher said. Currently, less than 10 percent of Pitt faculty are working with the Innovation Institute on inventions. Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for Research, said the gathering celebrated the entrepreneurs and changemakers who want to bring their ideas to a commercial reality and maybe make the world a better place. “I would like to suggest you’re here in at least in some part because the right guidance from the University of Pittsburgh was able to inspire you and able to enable you to make your vision real.” In addition to Pitt Innovator awards being presented to the people behind the record 162 transactions (licenses/options) in fiscal 2019, several special awards were presented. Marlin Mickle Outstanding Innovator Award : William “Buddy” Clark, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. The Mickle Award is presented to a Pitt faculty member who has demonstrated a sustained commitment to commercializing his or her research and ranks among the University’s prolific innovators in terms of the number of invention disclosures, patents and licenses they have been involved with. Clark is one of the most collaborative scientists at Pitt, lending his expertise to research projects ranging from pollution control valves to electronic intravenous catheters. But his true passion is baseball, as a coach, a fan and an inventor. Clark co-founded Pittsburgh-based Diamond Kinetics based on technology he developed to measure aspects of a baseball/softball player’s swing (read more about his work in the University Times). Clark also oversees the maker spaces at the Swanson School of Engineering and is director of the Innovation, Product Design, and Entrepreneurship Program. CJ Handron, CEO of Diamond Kinetics, said he met Clark seven years ago at Pitt. Since then, he said, “The culture around innovation and entrepreneurship at the University has grown and evolved significantly. I think Diamond Kinetics has had a little bit of influence on that; I think Buddy has had a tremendous influence on that.” Clark is a tireless voice for entrepreneurship and innovation in the Swanson School and throughout the University, Handron said. Emerging Innovator Award: Morgan Fedorchak, assistant professor of ophthalmology, bioengineering, chemical and petroleum engineering, and clinical and translational science. The Emerging Innovator Award is presented to an early-to-mid-career faculty member who has shown a keen interest in innovation commercialization and is dedicated to achieving impact through commercial translation of research. Fedorchak leads the Ophthalmic Biomaterials Laboratory. In her lab’s first four years, it has demonstrated an intense focus on translational science and has launched two projects on a commercialization pathway. She has taken advantage of a range of educational programming and funding opportunities to move her innovations from the lab towards the market. These include the First Gear commercialization program, the Michael G. Wells Competition, and Chancellor’s Innovation Commercialization Funds, as well as consulting regularly with licensing managers and entrepreneurs in residence. Outstanding Student Innovator Award: Emily Siegel, senior, chemical engineering and biological sciences This award is presented to a Pitt student of any level who has embraced innovation and entrepreneurship as a career path and have participated in the Innovation Institute’s Big Idea Center programs and competitions to help bring their ideas to life. Siegal is the founder of Trek, a startup company developing solutions for eco-friendly dental care for people on the go. She brought her chemical engineering class project idea for a chewing gum that cleans teeth both mechanically and chemically to the Big Idea Blitz event in January 2019 and won a prize in the pitch competition. She then entered the Randall Family Big Idea Competition. Competing against 300 fellow students, she and the team she assembled for the competition won the $25,000 top prize. From there, she entered the Big Idea Center’s Blast Furnace student accelerator. She is now in the first cohort of the Forge, the University’s new student startup incubator. ###
Author: Susan Jones, Editor, University Times
Nov
20
2019

Pitt STRIVE Program Receives UPSIDE Award

Bioengineering, Chemical & Petroleum, Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, Industrial, MEMS, Diversity, Student Profiles, Office of Development & Alumni Affairs

This article was originally published on @Pitt. Reposted with permission. PITTSBURGH (November 20, 2019) ... The Swanson School of Engineering’s Pitt Success, Transition, Representation, Innovation, Vision and Education (STRIVE) Program was recognized with the 2019 University Prize for Strategic, Inclusive and Diverse Excellence (UPSIDE) Award by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The goal of the Pitt STRIVE Program is to improve transitions of underrepresented minority (URM) students into doctoral engineering programs at the University. Using evidence-based strategies, the program aims to foster student and faculty engagement to ensure students’ successful completion of the PhD in engineering. "It has been an honor be a part of the leadership team of this extraordinarily great program,” said Sylvanus Wosu, associate dean for diversity affairs at the Swanson School. Wosu acknowledged the support and commitment from the U.S. Steel Dean of Engineering James R. Martin II and the Office of the Dean. “The Pitt STRIVE Program has been transformational in increasing URM PhD enrollment from less than 5% to over 7.5%, enhancing the academic culture and community that have contributed to 13 URM PhDs in the last four years, and significantly increasing the number of faculty with a shared vision for the school’s diversity and inclusion goals,” Wosu said. Under the direction of Wosu and Steven Abramowitch, associate professor of bioengineering, the program—which has been recognized and funded by the National Science Foundation—has focused on such areas as: Improving faculty engagement with URM students Improving faculty awareness of the impediments to URM success in doctoral programs Promoting a shared vision among vested faculty regarding the success of URM students within the Pitt community Achieving a systemic inclusive academic culture and climate that support the success of URM doctoral students “The Pitt STRIVE Program’s implementation is informed by research and practices that positively impact the culture and experiences of the faculty, students and community,” said David Gau, the Pitt STRIVE Program director of University engagement and communication. Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will recognize the Swanson School of Engineering with the UPSIDE Award at a Senate Council meeting in December. ###

Nov
15
2019

Honoring the Next Generation in Engineering Research

Chemical & Petroleum, Student Profiles

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 15, 2019) — For the second consecutive year, a graduate student from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering has won the AIChE’s Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum (CoMSEF) annual Graduate Student Award. Yasemin Basdogan, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, was awarded the honor in recognition of her significant contributions in her work on using machine learning to study local solvation environments with John Keith, PhD, associate professor of chemical engineering and R.K. Mellon Faculty Fellow in Energy. “Yasemin is a tremendous student, and I was happy to nominate her for this national award,” says Keith. “Awards like this showcase the impressive work of our students and are a great way for them to get visibility and be well-prepared for an ultra-competitive academic job market. They also demonstrate our department’s success in personalizing the training and mentoring of our great students to achieve their goals.” The work uses computational tools to study ion solvation environments, an approach that will be useful for the atomistic modeling of ions in different solvents. Last year, Michael Taylor, working with Giannis (Yanni) Mpourmpakis, PhD, was awarded the honor for his work on computer-aided descriptions of materials stability at the nanoscale. The prize comes with a plaque and an honorarium. Students are nominated by their dissertation advisor and must present a poster at the CoMSEF Poster Session at the AIChE Annual Meeting. Awards are based on the student’s CV, the nomination letter from their advisor, the quality of the poster and the student’s ability to describe their research. “As researchers, pursuing impactful research is our primary goal, but being able to effectively communicate that research is a challenging but vital skill to learn,” says Keith. “This recognition shows that Yasemin is poised to continue excelling at both.”
Maggie Pavlick
Nov
13
2019

Printed Metal Conductors May Be Next-Generation Electronic Displays

Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 13, 2019) — Each year, consumers ask more of electronic displays, wanting them bigger, brighter, and even flexible. Displays from smartwatches to 4K TVs currently consist of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) which use indium tin oxide (ITO) as a transparent electrode. However, ITO has its limitations: it is expensive; doesn’t perform well enough for larger areas; and can crack with repeated touching or swiping. However, a $1 million award from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program will fund collaborative research to replace ITO with metal “microgrid” conductors to improve OLED performance. The research will be led by Paul Leu, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, and Electroninks, a technology company in Austin, Texas. Leu first came across the Electronink’s metal ink in its circuit drawing kit called Circuit Scribe. The device includes a pen that uses conductive silver ink to allow users to create working lights with circuits drawn on paper. Leu, whose lab works with transparent electrodes, saw the product and understood that the company’s particle-free, metal ink might be able to address some of the limitations with ITO. “Electronink’s metal ink can cure at low temperatures, be printed into patterns, and has conductivity comparable to bulk metal,” says Leu. “By using a new metal patterning technique that prints the metal grid directly on glass or plastic, we can create ‘microgrid’ conductors that can outperform ITO at a lower manufacturing cost.” “We are excited to continue this collaboration with Prof. Leu, and appreciate the DOE recognizing the milestones to date and continued support of our collective effort,” says Melbs LeMieux, President and Cofounder at Electroninks. “Prof. Leu’s team has helped to greatly accelerate the metal microgrid process technology for OLED lighting from concept to demonstration, and now we are working with our industrial partners towards commercialization.” Leu and Electroninks began the project in 2018, working for a year in a proof-of-concept phase to show that their metal inks could work as a replacement for ITO. “The first phase of the project was successful,” says Ziyu Zhou, lead graduate student on the project. “We were able to achieve high performance, with transparency over 90 percent and sheet resistance under 1 ohm per square.” The DOE grant funds Phase II, in which Leu’s lab and Electroninks will continue to investigate and develop the technology, process, and implementation to commercial products with its industrial partners.  They will be developing and evaluating the technology for a variety of applications such as displays, lighting, touch sensors, and electromagnetic interference shielding.
Maggie Pavlick
Nov
12
2019

Loves Me, Loves Me Not...

Chemical & Petroleum, Industrial, MEMS

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 12, 2019) — Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are valuable for a wide variety of applications. Made of graphene sheets rolled into tubes 10,000 times smaller than a human hair, CNTs have an exceptional strength-to-mass ratio and excellent thermal and electrical properties. These features make them ideal for a range of applications, including supercapacitors, interconnects, adhesives, particle trapping and structural color. New research reveals even more potential for CNTs: as a coating, they can both repel and hold water in place, a useful property for applications like printing, spectroscopy, water transport, or harvesting surfaces. When water is dropped on a CNT forest, the CNTs repel the water, and it forms a sphere. However, when flipped over, the drop does not fall to the ground but rather clings to the surface. “In contrast to superhydrophobic surfaces where droplets roll off easily when tilted, CNTs forests are parahydrophobic, where the droplet is both repelled and attracted to the CNT surface,” explains Ziyu Zhou, lead author of the paper and graduate student in the LAMP Lab.  “It is a love-hate relationship.” The key to this wetting behavior is the use of CNT forests that are densely, vertically packed on the surface and the inherently hydrophilic CNT surface. The forests are about 100 microns in height and so dense that there are over 100 billion (1011) CNTs in 1 cm2 area.  Some amount of water sinks below the carbon nanotubes and clings to the hydrophilic material, while the rest is repelled into a sphere. This research represents the first observation of parahydrophobicity of CNT forests, where the droplet can roll along the surface but does not fall off when turned upside down. Other surfaces in nature such as peach fuzz or rose petals also exhibit this wetting behavior, which may be used to for liquid transportation, fabrics coating design, membrane selectivity and even wall-climbing robotics. This wetting behavior could also be used to as a way to construct CNTs into various arrangements. “Previous research showed CNT forests to be unstable under the application of water, but we show that water droplets are, in fact, stable on these dense CNT forests,” explains Paul Leu, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and author on the paper. “This wetting behavior may be used to assemble CNTs into dense vertical arrays, surface stripes, and other unique shapes that could be used for supercapacitors, interconnects, and other applications.” Leu also has appointments in chemical engineering and mechanical engineering and material science. His lab, the Laboratory for Advanced Materials at Pittsburgh (LAMP), conducted the research. The paper, “Parahydrophobicity and stick-slip wetting dynamics of vertically aligned carbon nanotube forests,” (DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2019.06.012) was published in the journal Carbon and was coauthored by Ziyu Zhou, Tongchuan Gao, Sean McCarthy, Andrew Kozbial, Susheng Tan, David Pekker, Lei Li, and Paul W. Leu.
Maggie Pavlick

Upcoming Events


back
view more