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Is the Stanford Chemical Engineering Program for You?

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Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Program (CHEME-BS, BSH, or MIN)

Chemical engineering is a discipline that relates to numerous areas of technology. In broad terms, chemical engineers are responsible for conceiving and designing processes for the production, transformation and transport of biochemicals, chemicals, energy and materials. More recently, chemical engineers are increasingly involved in the design of new products enabled by emerging process technologies. Chemical engineering begins with experimentation in the laboratory and follows with implementation of the technology to full-scale production. The mission of the Chemical Engineering Department at Stanford is to provide professional training, development and education for the next generation of leaders in chemical sciences and engineering.

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.

Chemical Engineering curriculum

Chemical engineers must have a complete and quantitative understanding of both the scientific and engineering principles underlying these technological processes. This is reflected in the curriculum of the Chemical Engineering Department, which 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, biochemical engineering and process design. Courses are built on a foundation in the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology.

Objectives and outcomes for Chemical Engineering


  1. 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.
  2. Graduates will be effective life-long learners especially in a field whose focus areas, tools, and professional and societal expectations are constantly changing.
  3. Graduates will be equipped to successfully pursue postgraduate study in engineering or in other fields.
  4. 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.

(a) An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering
(b) An ability to design and conduct experiments, and to analyze and interpret data
(c) 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
(d) An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
(e) An ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems
(f) An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) An ability to communicate effectively
(h) The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
(i) A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long learning
(j) A knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) An ability to use the techniques, skills and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice