Chemical engineering is unique among the engineering disciplines in that it is built on chemistry as well as physics and mathematics. From its early foundation in petrochemical and bulk chemical processing, chemical engineering has expanded to play key roles in the development and production of pharmaceuticals and bioengineered materials, specialty polymers and high strength composites, semiconductors and microelectronic devices, as well as a wide range of ultrapure fine chemicals. Therefore, chemical engineering is essential for the operation of contemporary society. The solution of many of the problems facing society today, including energy, the environment and development of high-performance materials, will involve chemical engineers. Future opportunities in the field are very bright.
The undergraduate program in chemical engineering equips students to investigate solutions for these and many other problems. Most graduates find meaningful careers in industry, while others are attracted to government laboratories, universities and careers as private consultants. Some continue their education through graduate studies in chemical engineering, business, law or medicine. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department offers the bachelor of engineering degree and graduate study leading to the M.Eng., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees.
Our program leading to the Bachelor of Engineering degree is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, www.abet.org.
Undergraduate Degree Program
Undergraduate students acquire a solid background in mathematics, chemistry and physics and take additional upper-level courses in chemistry. The basis of the chemical engineering program is in transport phenomena, thermodynamics, separations and kinetics. Other courses deal with the principles and techniques of chemical engineering analysis and design, along with economic analysis and process control. Laboratory courses offer the student an opportunity to make fundamental measurements of momentum, heat and mass transport and to gain hands-on experience with bench scale and small scale pilot-plant apparatus, which can be computer controlled. Report writing is a principal focus in the laboratory courses. Selected students are offered the opportunity to carry out individual research projects.
The curriculum for a chemical engineering major includes a number of electives. Students, with the consent of their faculty advisers, may choose elective courses that maintain program breadth or may pursue a minor with the chemical engineering major. Established minors for chemical engineering students are environmental engineering, materials science and engineering, nanoscience and nanotechnology, environmental engineering, scientific computing, engineering management, and business, among others. Double majors may be arranged in consultation with a faculty adviser. Example curricula are available on the department website
The department recommends chemical engineering students consider taking the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) in their senior year. This is the first step in obtaining a license as a professional engineer. The following courses are recommended for preparation for the FE: EECE 2112, CE 2280 and ME 2190.
Undergraduate Honors Program
The Honors Program in chemical engineering provides an opportunity for selected students to develop individually through independent study and research. General requirements are described in the Special Programs chapter of the Undergraduate Catalog. Chemical Engineering requires a minimum overall GPA of 3.5 for the Honors Program, and acceptance into the program is made by petition to the faculty during the junior year. Transfer students may be considered for admission after completing one semester at Vanderbilt. Candidates for honors choose their technical courses with the consent of a faculty honors adviser. Requirements include at least 6 hours of ChBE courses numbered 5000 or above, plus 6 hours of ChBE 3860 and 3861 taken in the junior and/or senior year under the direction of a faculty honors adviser. A formal written research report is submitted each semester ChBE 3860 or 3861 is taken with a final report and presentation given in the spring semester of the senior year to the ChBE faculty and students. The diploma designation is Honors in Chemical Engineering.