Chemical engineers conceive and design processes to produce, transform and transport materials — beginning with experimentation in the laboratory and followed by implementation of technologies in full-scale production.
The mission of the undergraduate program in Chemical Engineering is to develop students' understanding of the core scientific, mathematical and engineering principles that form the foundation underlying these technological processes. The program's core mission is reflected in its curriculum, which is built on a foundation in the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology. Course work includes the study of applied mathematics, material and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, energy and mass transfer, separations technologies, chemical reaction kinetics and reactor design, and process design. The program provides students with excellent preparation for careers in the corporate and government sectors, or for advanced study. More information on the degree and course requirements for the Chemical Engineering Major can be found in the Stanford Bulletin.
Objectives and outcomes for Chemical Engineering
- Graduates will be effective in applying the basic chemical engineering principles along with analytical problem-solving and communication skills necessary to succeed in diverse careers including chemical engineering practice and academic research.
- Graduates will be effective life-long learners especially in a field whose focus areas, tools, and professional and societal expectations are constantly changing.
- Graduates will be equipped to successfully pursue postgraduate study in engineering or in other fields.
- Graduates will consider the broader context of social, environmental, economic and safety issues and demonstrate high standards of professional and ethical responsibility to become responsible citizens and leaders in the community and in the field of chemical science.
Learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the undergraduate program. The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following:
- an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering.
- an ability to design and conduct experiments, and to analyze and interpret data.
- an ability to design a system, component or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability and sustainability.
- an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
- an ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems.
- 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, economic, environmental and societal context.
- a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning.
- a knowledge of contemporary issues.
- an ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.
What chemical engineers do
Large numbers of industries depend on the synthesis and processing of chemicals and materials, which places the chemical engineer in great demand. In addition to traditional careers in the chemical, energy and oil industries, chemical engineers are finding increasing opportunities in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronic materials and device fabrication, and environmental engineering. The unique training of the chemical engineer becomes essential in these areas whenever processes involve the chemical or physical transformation of matter. For example, chemical engineers working in the chemical industry investigate the creation of new polymeric materials with important electrical, optical or mechanical properties. This requires attention not only to the synthesis of the polymer, but also to the flow and forming processes necessary to create a final product. In biotechnology, chemical engineers help design production processes and facilities to use microorganisms and enzymes to synthesize new drugs. Chemical engineers also solve environmental problems by developing technology and processes, such as catalytic converters and effluent treatment facilities, to minimize the release of products harmful to the environment.