What is Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering?

Chemical engineering is a broad and versatile discipline in which chemical engineers work with the development and application of processes that change materials either chemically or physically. This branch of engineering was originally based on the applications of chemistry combined with the principles of physics and mathematics. Over time, and with increasing speed, it has evolved so that biological sciences and chemistry now fill the position once uniquely held by chemistry. This evolution led the School to add “biomolecular” to its official name in 2003. Revised undergraduate and graduate curricula reflect and support the diversification of the discipline.

Chemical engineers use their knowledge to manipulate molecular properties of matter, and they integrate product and process design, process control, and optimization. Economics and business principles also play an important role in chemical engineering, for it is the chemical engineer who develops economical and environmentally safe applications of discoveries made in the laboratory.

Chemical engineers play a key role in a multitude of industries, including microelectronics, oil and gas, chemical and petrochemical, pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, food, textiles, and personal products. Chemical engineers have to be viewed as having provided the intellectual capital that built today's global energy and chemical enterprises. Some of the products they have generated are ubiquitous throughout modern society: recording media, communications hardware, detergents, medical devices, glasses, paper, fibers, fertilizers, prescription and over-the-counter medicines, paints, adhesives, food additives, and countless other inventions that are often taken for granted.

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Chemical Engineers in Action:  Site from the American institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) showing how chemical engineers make a difference.

AIChEAIChE's main site also provides useful information about what chemical engineers do.