Chemical engineers develop processes that transform raw materials into useful chemicals that enhance our quality of life. In addition to chemicals found in products used by consumers every day, chemical engineers create novel materials such as nanoscale composites, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fibers, metals, and ceramics. Chemical engineers are trained to design and control chemically reactive processes to achieve desired chemical purity. However, they also use their intricate knowledge of chemistry, engineering principles, and applied mathematics to work in a variety of other applications. These include applied energy systems, biomedical materials and therapies, and strategies to minimize the environmental impact of technological advancements.
A common question that many ask is, “How is chemical engineering different from chemistry?” Typically, chemists create new molecules via chemical reactions, examine the underlying mechanisms involved, and make precise chemical measurements on a bench scale in small volumes. Chemical engineers utilize the initial work of the chemists, but often need to modify the reactions themselves, as they can be too slow to be useful. Additionally, chemical engineers examine how the size of a system affects the chemistry, as both heat transfer and mixing processes get more difficult with increased system size—and the scale needs to be larger to meet demand for chemicals. The interaction between size and chemistry is non-trivial and requires bench top and larger scale experimentation in which key parameters are measured. Such parameters are, in turn, inserted into mathematical models to predict larger scales. This is an iterative process and requires the intensive training that RIT chemical engineering provides.
The BS degree in chemical engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org. For Enrollment and Graduations Data, Program Educational Objectives, and Student Outcomes, please visit the college’s Accreditation page.
A chemical engineering degree prepares you to advance nano-scale composites, pharmaceuticals, plastics, fibers, metals, and ceramics and to develop alternative energy systems, biomedical materials and therapies, and strategies that minimize the environmental impact of technological advancements.
Conduct research in nano-engineering, design methods, and technologies for micro- and nano-scaled systems. This microsystems engineering doctorate is a multidisciplinary program that addresses the technical challenges of micro- and nano-systems.
The minor in chemical engineering systems analysis provides students with a sophisticated understanding of the application of scientific knowledge to the solution of a vast array of practical problems in which chemistry plays a critical role. Students are taught the systems methodologies that chemical engineers employ to analyze and solve real world problems involving distinct chemical components, chemical reaction, multiple phases, and mass transfer.
Current work is focused on the dynamics of forced convectively and absolutely unstable fluid systems, relevant to the invariant production of materials from industrial processes. Work also focuses dynamic surface tension measurement characterization with applications, advanced die manifold design, and the modeling of adsorption on complex materials. Ongoing efforts involve the coating of thin liquid films on substrates and the modeling of key elements of coating processes necessary to assure their efficacy. For more details on some of our mathematical modeling efforts in these and other areas, visit the Barlow/Weinstein Asymptotics and Wave Instability Group.
Research lies in the area of colloids and surface science, specifically within the challenges encountered in water resources management and conservation, the water-energy nexus and the water and carbon cycles. Current research studies the physicochemical processes governing the behavior of charged species in aquatic environments, the design and development of novel water treatment and purification methods, gas hydrates for water treatment, and gas production and carbon sequestration. Research efforts involve combining analytical tools and modeling approaches at different scales, from the molecular to the macro scale, with the ultimate goal of designing pollution mitigation strategies and intensified treatment processes, and understanding environmental impacts of human activity.
Research activities focus on enhancing the performance of energy conversion, transmission, and storage devices through the use of nano materials. Specific areas of work include the development of high capacity anode and cathode active materials for lithium ion batteries as well as engineering novel device architectures using carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Other efforts focus on improving the electrical conductivity of bulk CNT wires and cables for power and data transmission. The applied projects are complemented by fundamental studies on CNT electronic type separations, thermal and chemical stability, and material tolerance to harsh radiation environments.
Research focuses on the use of carbon nanotubes for environmental applications and chemical/biological sensors. Current research projects investigate the use of carbon nanotubes to tailor adsorption systems for isolation and/or removal of organic and inorganic compounds from aqueous regimes (e.g. groundwater).
Scientists look to space for origins of the solar system; chemical engineers like Poornima Padmanabhan are searching for the origins of life based on minute systems of molecules. Padmanabhan recently received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for “Chirality and polymer thermodynamics: frustration and amplification.”
Maryalice Ball, a fourth-year chemical engineering major from Buffalo, N.Y., has been part of RIT’s Orientation team for nearly three years. She works as student orientation coordinator alongside four other students.
Hira Abid crossed continents to come to RIT. The chemical engineering student from Pakistan will make another global connection when she begins graduate school in Turkey as one of RIT’s newest Fulbright awardees.
The student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) promotes the chemical engineering program at RIT to current students, prospective students, professionals, and the community. To accomplish this mission, we have made it our goal to give students insight into the expansive field of chemical engineering by hosting guest speakers and organizing tours of both plants and research facilities in the area. Alexander Roth serves as AIChE Chapter Advisor.