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Chemical Engineering

Department Overview

105 Benson

The chemical engineering profession is a close-knit group with a common background in chemical processes, systems analysis, and systems economics. Chemical engineering training occurs through course and laboratory work addressing mathematical, scientific, and engineering fundamentals. With a strong background in mathematics, chemistry, and physics, chemical engineering students study transport phenomena (the description of momentum, heat, and mass transfer in chemical processes); chemical kinetics and reaction engineering; process control and design; and optimization of chemical processes. These subjects are common throughout the traditional chemical industry, applying as well to other industries such as electronics manufacture and biological and biochemical engineering. Chemical engineers find industrial employment in areas of electronics, petroleum, consulting, chemical, automotive, forest products, biotechnology, and energy. Chemical engineers also find careers in academia and government and military service.

Undergraduate Program

Adviser
105 Benson, Box 351750
(206) 543-2252
advising@cheme.washington.edu

The Department of Chemical Engineering offers the following programs of study:

  • The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BSChE) degree
  • The Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering (BSChE) degree, with an option in nanoscience and molecular engineering

Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering

Suggested College Courses for First Five Quarters: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307, MATH 308, CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, CHEM 237, CHEM 238, PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123, ENGL 131 (or equivalent), AMATH 301 (or CSE 142)

Department Admission Requirements

Core courses within the department form a seven-quarter curriculum designed to start in spring quarter of the sophomore year. Applicants are considered in three groups: Direct Freshman Admission, Early Admission, and Upper-Division Admission. Admission is competitive. Completion of minimum requirements described below does not guarantee admission. Applicants not admitted under one admission group may subsequently apply to another admission group after completing more coursework. All applicants have the right to petition and appeal the department's admission decision.

Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Option (NME): Admission to the NME option is competitive, and normally occurs upon completion of NME 220. Admission is based on grades, including NME 220 and any CHEM E courses already taken. A small number of students may be admitted into the NME option upon application to the department. Admission is based on the student's academic record and prior experience/work in the field of nanoscience and/or molecular engineering. Students applying for the NME option should so indicate on their chemical engineering application and discuss their interests and background in the essay.

  1. Direct Freshman Admission

    The department enrolls up to 30 percent of its incoming class directly from high school, prior to completion of University-level prerequisites. Students accepted to the UW who indicate chemical engineering as their preferred major on the freshman application are automatically considered. Competitive applicants have taken or are taking calculus and at least two years of laboratory science (physics, chemistry preferred) in high school. Admission is for autumn quarter only.

  2. Early Admission

    The department enrolls up to 30 percent of its class from students who have taken one year of college-level coursework at the UW. The application is available at www.engr.washington.edu/uapp. Admission is for autumn quarter only. Application deadline is July 1.

    Course Requirements: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126; CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162; PHYS 121; and 5 credits of English composition, chosen from C LIT 240, ENGL 109-ENGL 110, ENGL 111, ENGL 121, ENGL 131, ENGL 197, ENGL 198, ENGL 199, or ENGL 281.

    All courses must be completed prior to the July 1 application deadline.

    Credit Requirements: Applicants must be completing their freshman year at the UW and must have completed a minimum15 credits taken in residence at the UW.

    Grade Requirements: Minimum 2.0 grade in each prerequisite course and minimum 2.50 GPA

  3. Upper-Division Admission

    The department enrolls the majority of its student through Upper-Division Admission. Upper-division applicants have completed at least four quarters of equivalent college-level coursework and are on track to begin the department curriculum in spring quarter of their sophomore year. Application for the department is available at www.engr.washington.edu/uapp. Students not at UW must also apply for admission to the UW for spring quarter, following the admission rules found at admit.washington.edu.

    Admission is for spring quarter only. The department application deadline is February 1. The UW application deadline is December 15.

    Course Requirements: Minimum 55 academic credits at time of application, including the following: MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307 (18 credits); CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162 (15 credits); PHYS 121, PHYS 122 (10 credits); and one 5-credit English composition course, chosen from C LIT 240, ENGL 109-ENGL 110, ENGL 111, ENGL 121, ENGL 131, ENGL 197, ENGL 198, ENGL 199, or ENGL 281.

    Applicants are considered for admission if they have completed all but two of the required courses and are currently enrolled in those courses at the time of application to the major (e.g., MATH 307 and PHYS 122). See department adviser with questions.

    General Expectations of Academic Progress: To be fully prepared for major coursework and to be on track to complete the degree in a timely manner, students must have completed all admission requirements as well as the following courses by the start of the autumn quarter following admission: organic chemistry I and II (CHEM 237 and CHEM 238, CHEM 223 and CHEM 224, or CHEM 335 and CHEM 336), PHYS 123, AMATH 301 (or CSE 142), MATH 308, CHEM E 310. Students unable to meet the continuation requirement are automatically dropped from the program (appeals for readmission are considered in the case of special circumstances). Applicants should take general education or elective credits as space allows. See department academic adviser with questions related to academic progress.

    Credit and Grade Requirements: 55 credits completed by application deadline, with a minimum overall 2.50 GPA and minimum 2.0 grade in all courses required for admission. Historically a substantially higher GPA in these categories is required for admission to the major. See department adviser with questions.

    Factors included in the admission decision include the course record as indicated above and qualitative considerations such as difficulty of completed courses, frequency of incomplete or withdrawal grades, number of repeated courses, applicable work experience and maturity of attitude, record of honors, a demonstrated ability to take at least 12 credits per quarter, and special circumstances disclosed by the applicant.

Graduation Requirements

197 credits, as follows:

General Education Requirements (97 credits)

  1. Written and Oral Communications (8 credits): one 5-credit English composition course from the University list; HCDE 231. University required 4 additional writing credits are met by major core courses.
  2. Visual, Literary, & Performing Arts (VLPA) and Individuals & Societies (I&S) (24 credits): Minimum of 10 credits required in each area
  3. Natural World (65 credits)
    1. Physics (15 credits): PHYS 121, PHYS 122, PHYS 123
    2. Mathematics (24 credits): MATH 124, MATH 125, MATH 126, MATH 307, MATH 308, and MATH 309 (or MATH 390 or IND E 315)
    3. Chemistry (26 credits): CHEM 142, CHEM 152, CHEM 162, CHEM 237, CHEM 238, CHEM 455

Major Requirements (74 credits)

  1. Engineering Fundamentals (4 credits): AMATH 301 or CSE 142
  2. Chemical Engineering Core Courses (51 credits): CHEM E 310, CHEM E 325, CHEM E 326, CHEM E 330, CHEM E 340, CHEM E 435, CHEM E 436, CHEM E 437, CHEM E 457, CHEM E 465, CHEM E 480, CHEM E 485, CHEM E 486
  3. Molecular and Nanoscience Engineering (3 credits): CHEM E 455
  4. Engineering Elective Courses (16 credits): Only one, 1-credit seminar is allowed to count toward engineering electives. A maximum of 9 credits of undergraduate research (CHEM E 299, CHEM E 499, of which no more than 3 credits may be CHEM 299) may count toward engineering electives.

Unspecified Electives (6 credits)

Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Option Major Requirements (77 credits)

  1. Engineering Fundamentals (4 credits): AMATH 301 or CSE 142
  2. Chemical Engineering Core Courses (51 credits): CHEM E 310, CHEM E 325, CHEM E 326, CHEM E 330, CHEM E 340, CHEM E 435, CHEM E 436, CHEM E 437, CHEM E 457, CHEM E 465, CHEM E 480, CHEM E 485, CHEM E 486
  3. Nanoscience and Molecular Engineering Courses (22 credits): CHEM E 299, CHEM E 455, CHEM E 499 (3-6 credits, maximum 3 credits from CHEM E 299), NME 220, NME 221, NME 321, NME 421; minimum two additional approved nanoscience and molecular engineering electives. See adviser for list of approved electives.

Unspecified Electives (2 credits)

A minimum 2.00 GPA in core chemical engineering courses, based on the first time each course is taken, is required for graduation.

Many engineers design new equipment and processes or design modifications to them. The design experience is integrated throughout the curriculum, with open-ended problems (sometimes involving economic constraints) in several courses: design of heat exchangers (CHEM E 340) and distillation towers (CHEM E 435), design of piping and pumping systems (CHEM E 330), design of chemical reactors (CHEM E 465). The design experience culminates in two capstone design courses (CHEM E 485 and CHEM E 486 or CHEM E 497) which involve the design of an integrated chemical system. An optional 9-credit specialty area allows each student to develop special competence in a selected subject by taking a minimum of three courses in that area. Engineering and free electives may be used for this purpose. The areas are biotechnology; fuel cells and energy; polymers, composites, colloids, and interfaces; computers applied to chemical engineering; environmental engineering; and nuclear engineering.

Continuation Policy

All students must make satisfactory academic progress in the major. Failure to do so results in probation, which can lead to dismissal from the major. For the complete continuation policy, contact the departmental adviser or refer to the department website.

Student Outcomes and Opportunities

  • Learning Objectives and Expected Outcomes: Chemical engineering graduates possess knowledge (including safety and environmental aspects) of material and energy balances applied to chemical processes; thermodynamics of physical and chemical equilibria; heat, mass, and momentum transfer; chemical reaction engineering; continuous and stage-wise separation operations; process dynamics and control; and process design. They also gain ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering; ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data; ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs; ability to function on multidisciplinary teams; and ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems. They also possess an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility; an ability to communicate effectively; the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context; a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning; a knowledge of contemporary issues; and an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
  • Instructional and Research Facilities: The chemical engineering building, Benson Hall, contains classrooms, offices, stockrooms, computer rooms, machine and electronics shops, and laboratories. The Unit Operations Lab holds a variety of experiments designed to give undergraduate students the experience of using real chemical process equipment and to deepen their understanding of chemical engineering fundamentals of fluid flow, heat transfer, separation processes, and reactor behavior. Departmental computer facilities include a network of PCs located in a keyed room for the exclusive use of chemical engineering students. Ten of these machines have hardware for computer data acquisition (to collect experimental data and support experiments on process automation). All have fast connections to the Internet and to larger UW computers.
  • Honors Options Available: With College Honors (Completion of Honors Core Curriculum and Departmental Honors); With Honors (Completion of Departmental Honors requirements in the major). See adviser for requirements.
  • Research, Internships, and Service Learning: Students are encouraged to participate in internships, which are generally facilitated through the Engineering Co-op Office.
  • Department Scholarships: The department awards 20-25 full-tuition scholarships per year. See departmental website for application procedures.
  • Student Organizations/Associations: The undergraduates in the department run a dynamic chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.

Of Special Note:

Entrance into most chemical engineering courses is ordinarily limited to majors in chemical engineering and bioresource science and engineering. Other students who wish to take departmental courses must meet the prerequisites and obtain instructor approval (except for CHEM E 485 and CHEM E 486, which are open to majors only).

Graduate Program

Graduate Program Coordinator
105 Benson, Box 351750
(206) 543-2250
grad.admissions@cheme.washington.edu

The department offers studies leading to the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Science in Chemical Engineering, and Master of Science in Engineering. The doctoral degree is centered on the dissertation with a foundation in coursework; it is generally completed in four to five years beyond the baccalaureate degree. In the master's program primary emphasis is placed on coursework, and the degree generally requires 21 months of study. Thesis and non-thesis options are available.

The program of study includes basic subjects of importance to all chemical engineers, such as thermodynamics, transport phenomena, kinetics, and applied mathematics. In addition, students are invited to take more-specialized courses in chemical engineering or in other departments. Students usually take three courses during their first quarter. In subsequent quarters, less time is spent on coursework, and more on research and independent study.

The department has about seventy full-time graduate students, most of whom are working toward a doctorate. They study and collaborate with faculty members in an atmosphere that is informal, friendly, and intellectually vigorous. Faculty interests are broad, so students become familiar with a variety of areas while receiving individual guidance in a specialty.

Master of Science in Chemical Engineering

Admission Requirements

A student is accepted for admission to the Graduate School as a chemical engineering major by joint action of the Graduate School and the department after consideration of a formal application. Most students applying for graduate admission have a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. If a student has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or another branch of engineering, he or she may obtain a graduate degree in chemical engineering by meeting certain additional requirements. To be competitive, applicants must:

  1. Be highly ranked (top 10 percent) in a respected chemical engineering program
  2. Score at least 750 on the quantitative portion of the GRE
  3. Score at least 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 70 (internet-based, not including speaking score) on the TOEFL, if an international applicant

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option

39 credits to include:

  1. At least 18 credits in courses numbered 500-599, of which at most 3 may be seminar credits, such as CHEM E 523. Numerical grades must be received for at least 18 credits of coursework. These must be 500-599 or approved 400-level courses. They must include five courses from at least four of the following five categories. (The courses listed in each category are typical. Others may qualify subject to approval by the Graduate Program Coordinator.)
    1. Math/Computer/Statistics: CHEM E 481 (3), CHEM E 482 (3), CHEM E 510 (4), CHEM E 512 (3), CHEM E 575 (3), CHEM 526 (3, max. 9), STAT 421 (4)
    2. Thermodynamics: CHEM E 455 (1/3, max. 3), CHEM E 525 (4), CHEM E 526 (3), CHEM 552 (3)
    3. Transport Phenomena: CHEM E 530 (4), CHEM E 531 (3), M E 533 (3), M E 534 (3)
    4. Reaction Phenomena: CHEM E 461 (3), CHEM E 560 (3), CHEM E 564 (3), CHEM E 565 (3)
    5. Materials and Biotech: CHEM E 467 (3), CHEM E 554 (3), CHEM E 558 (3), CHEM E 570 (3, max. 6), CHEM E 590 (3)
  2. Approved 400-level courses presented for the 18 graded credits include 400-level CHEM E courses not required for the BS degree and 400-level non-CHEM E courses approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  3. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in the graduate program
  4. At least 30 credits taken at the UW
  5. A thesis describing original research. At least 9 credits of thesis are required (CHEM E 700).
  6. Pass a final exam consisting of an oral presentation of the thesis.
  7. Serve as TA for at least one quarter.

Non-Thesis Option

The non-thesis allows a student to receive graduate-level training with the primary focus on coursework. The degree requirements can be completed in four quarters (completion in three is possible).

39 credits, and other requirements, to include:

  1. At least 18 credits in courses numbered 500-599, of which at most 3 may be seminar credits, such as CHEM E 523. Numerical grades must be received for at least 18 credits of coursework. These must be 500-599 or approved 400-level courses. They must include five courses from at least four of the following five categories. (The courses listed in each category are typical. Others may qualify subject to approval by the Graduate Program Coordinator.)
    1. Math/Computer/Statistics: CHEM E 481 (3), CHEM E 482 (3), CHEM E 510 (4), CHEM E 512 (3), CHEM E 575 (3), CHEM 526 (3, max. 9), STAT 421 (4)
    2. Thermodynamics: CHEM E 455 (1/3, max. 3), CHEM E 525 (4), CHEM E 526 (3), CHEM 552 (3)
    3. Transport Phenomena: CHEM E 530 (4), CHEM E 531 (3), M E 533 (3), M E 534 (3)
    4. Reaction Phenomena: CHEM E 461 (3), CHEM E 560 (3), CHEM E 564 (3), CHEM E 565 (3)
    5. Materials and Biotech: CHEM E 467 (3), CHEM E 554 (3), CHEM E 558 (3), CHEM E 570 (3, max. 6), CHEM E 590 (3)
  2. Approved 400-level courses presented for the 18 graded credits include 400-level CHEM E courses not required for the BS degree and 400-level non-CHEM E courses approved by the Graduate Program Coordinator.
  3. A project consisting of at least 6 CHEM E 600 credits (with a numerical grade of 2.7 or above, or an S grade). A member of the chemical engineering graduate faculty must supervise and grade the work. A written report is required.
  4. Thesis research (i.e., CHEM E 700 or CHEM E 800) cannot count toward the 39 credits.
  5. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 in the graduate program
  6. At least 30 credits taken at the UW
  7. Final examination consisting of an oral presentation of the CHEM E 600 project

Master of Science in Engineering

Admission Requirements

A student is accepted for admission to the Graduate School as a chemical engineering major by joint action of the Graduate School and the department after consideration of a formal application. Most students applying for graduate admission have a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. If a student has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or another branch of engineering, he or she may obtain a graduate degree in chemical engineering by meeting certain additional requirements.

To be competitive, applicants must:

  1. Be highly ranked (top 10 percent) in a respected chemical engineering program
  2. Score at least 750 on the quantitative portion of the GRE
  3. Score at least 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 70 (internet-based, not including speaking score) on the TOEFL, if an international applicant

Degree Requirements

39 credits

The requirements are the same as for the MSChE thesis option, except that the research adviser considers the student's background and research objectives and tailors the course requirements accordingly (subject to Graduate Program Coordinator approval). Relative to the MSChE options, usually less emphasis is on chemical engineering, more on engineering science and related subjects.

Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

A student is accepted for admission to the Graduate School as a chemical engineering major by joint action of the Graduate School and the department after consideration of a formal application. Most students applying for graduate admission have a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. If a student has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, physics, mathematics, or another branch of engineering, he or she may obtain a graduate degree in chemical engineering by meeting certain additional requirements.

To be competitive, applicants must:

  1. Be highly ranked (top 10percent) in a respected chemical engineering program
  2. Score at least 750 on the quantitative portion of the GRE
  3. Score at least 600 (paper-based), 250 (computer-based), or 70 (internet-based, not including speaking score) on the TOEFL, if an international applicant

Degree Requirements

90-108 credits, as follows:

  1. Minimum Graduate School Requirements: Satisfy Graduate School minimum requirements, summarized below. NOTE: Graduate School policy imposes the requirements in force at the time of graduation (not at the time of program entry).
    1. Complete at least 18 credits of courses numbered 500-600 at the University of Washington.
    2. Complete at least 18 numerically graded credits of 400- and 500-level UW courses prior to the general examination. Any 400-level courses must have departmental approval.
    3. Complete a minimum of 90 credits, at least 60 of which are UW credits.
    4. Compile a minimum of 27 dissertation credits (CHEM E 800) over a period of at least three quarters. With the exception of summer, students may take a maximum of 10 dissertation credits per quarter.
    5. Maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00.
    6. Pass the general examination.
    7. Pass the final examination (includes approval of the dissertation by student's Supervisory Committee).
    8. Maintain full- or part-time graduate student registration at the UW for the quarter in which the above examinations are completed and the degree is conferred.
    9. Complete all work for the doctoral degree within ten years.
  2. Students with a Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Degree: In addition to the requirements listed above, doctoral students must:
    1. Complete the non-thesis MSChE degree prior to the general examination. (Students with an MS in chemical engineering from another university may petition the Graduate Program Coordinator for an exemption.)
    2. Serve as a TA for at least three quarters. Students should plan on one quarter per year in years 2-4.
    3. Complete at least six graded courses numbered 500-599 or approved 400-level courses to satisfy the following:
    4. Five courses from at least four of the following five categories. (Courses listed in each category are typical. Others may qualify subject to approval by the Graduate Program Coordinator.)
      1. Math/Computer/Statistics: CHEM E 481 (3), CHEM E 482 (3), CHEM E 510 (4), CHEM E 512 (3), CHEM E 575 (3), CHEM 526 (3, max. 9), STAT 421 (4)
      2. Thermodynamics: CHEM E 455 (1/3, max. 3), CHEM E 525 (4), CHEM E 526 (3), CHEM 552 (3)
      3. Transport Phenomena: CHEM E 530 (4), CHEM E 531 (3), M E 533 (3), M E 534 (3)
      4. Reaction Phenomena: CHEM E 461 (3), CHEM E 560 (3), CHEM E 564 (3), CHEM E 565 (3)
      5. Materials and Biotech: CHEM E 467 (3), CHEM E 554 (3), CHEM E 558 (3), CHEM E 570 (3, max. 6), CHEM E 590 (3)
    5. One CHEM E course in a topic outside the student's main research area.
  3. Non-Chemical Engineering Undergraduates: Students whose undergraduate degree is in engineering or science (e.g., BS in Chemistry or Materials Science) but not chemical engineering must pass or serve as a TA in the following courses in addition to the requirements listed in the previous section: CHEM E 330 (5), CHEM E 340 (4), CHEM E 435 (4), CHEM E 465 (4), CHEM E 485 (4)
  4. Students lacking a strong background in thermodynamics are advised (but not required) to take CHEM E 326 (4) prior to attempting CHEM E 525 (4). It is possible to take some graduate courses while completing the required undergraduate courses.

Research Facilities

Benson Hall contains classrooms, offices, stockrooms, a machine shop, laboratories, and a variety of specialized research equipment. Each graduate student is provided desk space in a small laboratory or office as well as access to larger laboratories in the building. Students also may use the services of the Academic Computer Center, instrument-making shops, research centers (e.g., biomaterials, nanotechnology, chemical analysis), and the Chemistry and Engineering Libraries.

Financial Aid

The department has various sources of support for qualified graduate students. Those interested in applying for admission and support should visit the department's Website: www.cheme.washington.edu, which provides details on application procedures. Offers of admission with financial support are usually made in January through March.