The Graduate Program
The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering was initially established at the Colorado School of Mines in 1952. From its inception the Department has focused on education and basic and applied research aimed at problems of national interest. The graduate and research program in chemical engineering at CSM is extremely diverse and features programs in renewable energy, materials science, transport processes, theoretical and applied thermodynamics, computational methods and atomistic simulation.
At Mines, we believe that an important component of the graduate program is the personal relationship that develops between the faculty and students pursuing advanced degrees, hence we strive to maintain a high quality research and graduate education program. The department currently has a staff of 15 tenure track faculty and a total enrollment of approximately 60 full-time graduate students. This student to faculty ratio of 4/1 facilitates the development of strong mentoring relationships that we believe is one of the strengths of our department.
The Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at CSM has a comprehensive research program, and is recognized as a world leader in alternative energy and advanced materials. In Fall 2008 CSM was awarded the National Science Foundation's first Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) dedicated to Renewable Energy. Several ChEN faculty (Herring, Koh, Agarwal, Way, Bunge, Wolden, Liberatore) are prominently involved in the Renewable Energy MRSEC, which is a 6 year, $12 million dollar center. The State of Colorado has recently created the Colorado Renewable Energy Collaboratory, which is a research partnership among the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Colorado's premier research universities – CSM, Colorado State University, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. The first major project of the Collaboratory, the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, (C2B2), was launched on July 1, 2007. Professor Dorgan is the C2B2 site director at CSM, and several faculty are active participants. In April 2008 the Collaboratory announced the formation of the Center for Revolutionary Solar Photoconversion (CRSP). Professors Wolden and Herring were awarded grants in the first round of funding of the CRSP Shared Research Program. The Center for Hydrate Research (Sloan, Koh, Sum, Liberatore) is the world's foremost center dedicated to understanding the critical role of hydrates in energy production as well as their potential for energy storage and CO2 sequestration. The Colorado Fuel Cell Center (Dean, Herring) is dedicated to improving the efficiency of chemical energy conversion, as well as adapting fuel cell technology for compatibility with emerging biofuels.
In addition to alternative energy, the Chemical Engineering faculty are active in several other Centers dedicated to advanced materials, biotechnology, and space resources. Soft materials and complex fluids are the focus of Mines Polymer and Complex Fluids (MPAC) (Dorgan, Marr, Wu, Liberatore) and The Colorado Institute for Macromolecular Science and Engineering (CIMSE) (Ely, Dorgan, Marr, Wu, Liberatore, Sum). Microfluidics and lab-on-a-chip applications are being developed through the Microintegrated Optics for Advanced Bioimaging and Control (MOABC) (Marr, Neeves). Drug delivery and the effects of chemical exposure are being addressed through the The Center for Environmental Risk Assessment (Bunge). Finally, the Department's extraterrrestrial research portfolio is housed in The Center for Space Resources (Abbud-Madrid, Way). In addition, more details on specific research projects may be found on individual Faculty home pages.
The molecular modeling area has long been a pivotal component for many of our research programs. In 1997, our efforts in this regard were recognized by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education Excellence award. In 1998 the department's activities in research and application of molecular modeling led to an award from the IBM Corporation through its Shared University Research Program. The chemical engineering department at Mines was the first chemical engineering department in the United States to be honored by IBM through this prestigious grants program. Continuing this tradition CSM celebrated the acquisition of its new high performance computing cluster in May 2008. The supercomputer – nicknamed “Ra”, after the ancient Egyptian sun god – is dedicated to energy-related science. Ra is managed by the Golden Energy Computing Organization (GECO), a partnership between Mines, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the National Science Foundation. Ra's estimated peak performance is 23 teraflops—fast enough to do more than 3,000 calculations per second for each of the 6.6 billion people on the planet. This places the machine well within the top 100 fastest computers in the world.