New frontiers in chemical engineering impact on undergraduate education
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New Frontiers in Chemical Engineering: Impact on Undergraduate Education. Esin Gulari Division Director Chemical and Transport Systems National Science Foundation. Outline. History of Chemical Engineering Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat Analysis

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New frontiers in chemical engineering impact on undergraduate education

New Frontiers in Chemical Engineering: Impact on Undergraduate Education

Esin Gulari

Division Director

Chemical and Transport Systems

National Science Foundation



  • History of Chemical Engineering

  • Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat Analysis

  • Chemical Engineering Workforce Data and Trends

  • CHE Frontiers activities/documents

  • CHE relative to other disciplines

  • New Curriculum

History of chemical engineering

History of Chemical Engineering

  • 1900

    • Initial curriculum consisted of separate courses in chemistry and conventional engineering

  • Decade I (1905-1915)

Industrial Chemistry

Industrial Chemistry





Steam and Gas Tech.

Chemical Manufacture

History of chemical engineering1

History of Chemical Engineering

  • Decade II (1915-1925)

  • Decade III (1925-1935)

Unit Operations



Unit Operations

Materials and Energy



Materials & Energy


Reduction in

Mechanics & Machine


History of chemical engineering2

History of Chemical Engineering

  • Decade IV (1935-1945)

  • Decade V (1945-1955)

CHE Thermo.

CHE Thermodynamics

Process Control

Process measurement

& control

Industrial Chem.


More Physical Chem.,

Unit Operations

Foreign Languages

Applied Kinetics

Applied Kinetics

Reactor Design


Process Design

Machine Design

Report writing &


Steam and Gas Tech.

Organic Chemistry

History of chemical engineering3

History of Chemical Engineering

  • Decade VI (1955 -1965)

  • Decades VII – X (1965 -2005)

Transport Phenomena

Process Dynamics

Process Engineering

Transport Phenomena


Physical Measurements

Less Unit Ops.

Less Material &

Energy Balances

Differential Equations

Computer Programming

Minor changes

New frontiers in chemical engineering impact on undergraduate education

Evolution of CHE Curriculum

Increasing Emphasis in Underlying Sciences

Development of Unit Operations

Decline in Industrial Chemistry







Current landscape of che

Current Landscape of CHE

  • Strength:

    • Knowledge of processes on both molecular to macroscopic scales allows CHEs to work on the most exciting technology areas.

  • Weakness:

    • While CHE practice has evolved dramatically, the core curriculum has undergone minor changes in the past 40 years.

Current landscape of che1

Current Landscape of CHE

  • Opportunity:

    • To convey the excitement of CHE practice to students, to equip them to be versatile problem-solvers, to give them solid grounding in fundamentals and tools for engineering analysis and synthesis, illustrated by examples drawn from the breadth of industry and practice

    • Biology has become a more molecular and quantitative science.

    • There are new methods of incorporating new technology for education.

Chemical industry ci trends

Chemical Industry (CI) Trends

  • The CI is cyclical.

  • The CI is increasingly global.

  • Mergers of companies and product lines happen often.

  • Chemical companies are becoming life science companies and spinning off chemical units.

  • Virtual companies provide out-sourced services including research.

  • Time-to-market for new products has dramatically decreased.

  • New CHE workforce can expect to have multiple jobs in their careers.

Workforce issues

Workforce Issues

  • Public perception of “chemical” is negative.

  • Potential students don’t know the role and contributions of CHEs in emerging technologies (biotech., nanotech., infotech.)

  • Enrollments are small relative to other engineering disciplines

  • Enrollments appear to be cyclic.

  • Employment opportunities are diverse.

  • Other disciplines are embracing molecular engineering.

U s che degrees 1966 2000

U.S. CHE Degrees 1966-2000

Science & Engineering Indicators (NSF 02-327)

Initial placement for bs 00 01

Initial Placement for BS 00-01







Unknown Employment

AICHE Career Services

Industrial employment of bs

Industrial Employment of BS


Business services

ES: Environmental

ES: Research

ES: Design&Construction

Pulp & Paper







Percent Industrial Employment of BS CHEs

AICHE Career Services

Bs starting salaries

BS Starting Salaries

CHE leads all fields

Boston Globe, April25, 2003

Chemical engineering frontiers graduate education and research

Chemical Engineering Frontiers(Graduate Education and Research)

  • Beyond Molecular Frontier: Challenges for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

    [Structures and Cultures of CHEM & CHE Disciplines: The Common Chemical Bond]

    • NRC Report with six workshop documents

      • The Environment

      • National Security and Homeland Defense

      • Materials Science and Technology

      • Energy and Transportation

      • Information and Communications

      • Health and Medicine

Chemical engineering frontiers undergraduate education and curriculum

Chemical Engineering Frontiers(Undergraduate Education and Curriculum)

  • CCR/NSF Curriculum Workshops

    • 2002 Council of Chemical Research Annual Meeting, CHE Department Chairs Session

    • Three planning workshops, “New Frontiers in CHE” supported by NSF

      • Workshop I: Orlando, Jan., 2003

      • Workshop II: Austin, April 2003

      • Workshop III: Cape Cod, June 2003

        [Led by Bob Armstrong, CHE Dept. Chair, MIT]

        Chemical Engineering Curricula

New frontiers in chemical engineering impact on undergraduate education

Chemical Engineering at the Center

Materials Science

Computer Science.


Electrical Eng.

Chem. Eng.


Civil Eng.


Mechanical Eng..


Chemical Engineering is connected to many disciplines

Opportunities for new curriculum

Opportunities for New Curriculum

  • CHE is uniquely positioned at the interface between molecular sciences and engineering. It can significantly contribute to emerging technologies:

    • Alternate/renewable energy

    • Better health

    • National security

    • Improved environment

Elements of new curriculum

Elements of New Curriculum

  • The enabling sciences are:

    • Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Mathematics

  • Core chemical engineering principles:

    • Molecular transformations

    • Multi-scale analysis

    • Systems approach to solving problems

  • Chemical engineering design contains:

    • Process design

    • Product design

The frontier che curriculum

The Frontier CHE Curriculum

  • Decade XI (2005 -2015)



Multi-scale Analysis



Molecular engineering




Product Design


Systems Analysis


Increasing emphasis in biology and integration



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