With more chemical engineering graduates in non-traditional, high-growth professions such as nanotechnologies and biomedical programs, the discipline is positioned to be at the forefront of breakthrough sustainability and health solutions. High-performance materials developed by chemical engineers are becoming more sought after in areas as diverse as the aerospace, agricultural and military industries.
In response to the demand, chemical engineering was added recently as the newest undergraduate degree program in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. The degree program was formally approved in late fall by the New York State Department of Education. To date, more than 260 applicants have expressed interest in enrolling for fall 2009.
The degree program builds upon a foundation of chemistry, physics and mathematics. Traditional applications include the development and manufacture of chemicals such as fuels, synthetic fibers and pharmaceuticals. Chemical engineers also develop equipment for drug delivery, semiconductor processing and environmental applications.
“We expect to forge close collaborations with the chemistry and biology departments in the RIT College of Science as we move forward,” says Harvey Palmer, dean of the College of Engineering. “Additionally, as most problems require engineering expertise from several disciplines, existing programs in the college will both strengthen, and be strengthened by, chemical engineering at RIT.”
The college is currently in the final stages of submitting a proposal to New York State for a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering. In the past two years, the college has also gained approval for a master’s degree program in sustainable engineering as well as minor options in energy and the environment and in sustainable product development.