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Chemical Engineering

College of Engineering and Applied Science

Undergraduate Program

Why Choose UW?

"I was good in science and math, but I was not quite sure what I wanted to do with my life when I was a high school senior. I took a chance on Chemical Engineering. I'm glad I did." This happens to be a typical statement that you can hear from a corporate executive, chemical-plant operator, consultant, design engineer, bioprocess engineer, environmental engineer, pharmaceutical researcher, petroleum producer, biomedical entrepreneur, medical doctor, lawyer, and stock broker. The point is that the Chemical Engineering curriculum can prepare you for many different careers including those you have not even dreamed of yet. On top of this, the Chemical Engineering salaries are high. According to a 2002 Salary Survey, the average starting salary for chemical engineers was $51,254, the highest of all the college majors.

Curriculum Choices

The Chemical Engineering curriculum tends to attract students who enjoy challenge. During the freshman and sophomore years, your coursework will consist not only of chemistry, physics and mathematics, but also government, economics, and English composition. In addition, you will be taking a block of engineering classes to get your feet wet in applying science principles to solving real-life problems. Your junior and senior courses will expose you to chemical separations, reactor design, chemical and phase equilibria, process analysis and control, and elective subjects, for example in the life sciences or business. You are encouraged to consider an elective concentration: for example, Petroleum Engineering, Chemistry Major, Biomaterials/Polymers Research, Biomedical Engineering, which satisfies the premed and predental requirement, Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals, Environmental, International or self-directed. Regardless of your concentration choice, your senior year will conclude with a design course that is aimed at integrating all the skills you have learned toward designing a realistic process or product. This and other activities should provide you not only with top notch problem solving skills, but also with team interaction and communication skills, which will give you a head start on your first job.

Chemical engineers with training in the life sciences are highly sought by the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology and bioprocessing industries to focus on problems in food processing, bioremediation, biomaterials, tissue engineering, drug delivery, drug development and the production of pharmaceuticals. Courses in this concentration include the fundamentals of molecular biology, applications of engineering principals in life science fields such as medicine and microbiology, and electives ranging from biochemistry to physiology.

Hands-on Education

There is an important part of Chemical Engineering that you cannot experience in a classroom and this is the laboratory experience. Our labs are set up to give you a true hands-on feel for benchscale and pilot-plant-scale experimental equipment. They are among the very best academic labs you can find in the world, filled with modern instruments and computers. Where else could you find world-class labs with a spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains? In all your activities, you will have easy access to our faculty because our classes are small, and we all enjoy working closely and informally with the students. Our faculty has a broad spectrum of experience because they lead cutting-edge research on minerals extraction and processing, energy and environment, polymeric materials, and biotechnology. We believe that our vigorous research program greatly enhances the quality and relevance of what you will learn in our classes and labs.


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