About the Program
Chemical engineering is a broad field encompassing everything from design to large-scale manufacturing of a wide variety of products through chemical and biochemical processes. These products include pharmaceuticals, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, fine chemicals, specialty chemicals, microelectronic devices, polymers and products used in food processing and in biotechnology. Our alumni are employed in diverse fields including traditional and alternative/renewable energy, manufacturing, health care, biotechnology and business services.
Our chemical engineering curriculum builds upon the fundamentals of biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics. Undergraduate students complete a program of study that includes rigorous instruction in fluid mechanics, heat and mass transport, thermodynamics, reaction kinetics and chemical process dynamics and control.
Effective Fall 2017, we updated our ABET accredited degree in chemical engineering. This revision modernizes our curriculum, offers increased flexibility in elective options and provides optional specialty tracks in process engineering and biological engineering for those who want to focus their degree. In addition, our curriculum also includes elements that clearly set us apart from other programs; for example, taught in a new and unique student-centered environment, Studio Biology introduces active learning to the instruction of biology at the freshman level. This unique course minimizes lecture time and maximizes student involvement in the learning process with the design and performance of experiments exploring biological systems.
Our emphasis on active learning is also demonstrated within the Unit Operations Laboratory sequence taken in the summer as a six-week intensive “field session.” Here, the fundamentals of heat, mass and momentum transport and applied thermodynamics are reviewed in a practical, applications-oriented, hands-on setting. Field session greatly hones students’ teamwork, leadership, critical thinking and oral and written technical communications skills.
This curriculum is delivered within facilities that are among the best in the nation. Our modern in-house computer network supports over 70 workstations with specialized software for modeling chemical engineering systems. Our honors undergraduate research program provides our undergraduates with the opportunity to work with graduate students, postdocs and faculty on cutting-edge chemical and biochemical engineering research. Undergraduate chemical engineering students in this program at Mines have presented at national conferences and have won national competitions and awards based on research conducted while pursuing their baccalaureate degree. Mines also has a very active American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) student chapter. The student leadership organize “Lunch and Learn” events with industry leaders, host social events throughout the year, organize a rotational dinner for members and recruiters before our Fall Career Fair and participate in the Chem-E-Car Competition at the national AIChE meeting.
With placement outcomes within three months of graduation exceeding 80 percent for the last five years and average starting salaries over $69,000, our graduates continue to be in high demand for industry, government, military and graduate school positions across the country.
Additional Program Information
Accreditation, Educational Objectives & Outcomes
The programs leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.
The enrollment and graduation data for the Chemical Engineering program and other Mines programs can be found on the homepage of the Mines Office of Institutional Research.
The Chemical and Biological Engineering Department at Mines has the undergraduate degree program for a BS in Chemical Engineering. After the fall 2018 ABET site visit and program review, the department earned reaccreditation for the BS in chemical engineering (including track options) through 2024.
To be accredited, a program must have educational objectives and associated student outcomes that lead to meeting those objectives. Programs must also have a comprehensive assessment methodology in place that provides continuous feedback and demonstrates that the objectives are being met.
PROGRAM EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES:
For the degree program, our objectives for our graduates within three to five years of completing their degree are that they will:
- be in graduate school or in the workforce utilizing their education in chemical engineering fundamentals; and
- be applying their knowledge of and skills in engineering fundamentals in conventional areas of chemical engineering and in contemporary and growing fields; and
- have demonstrated both their commitment to continuing to develop personally and professionally, and an appreciation for the ethical and social responsibilities associated with being an engineer and a world citizen.
In addition to the above objectives, our Chemical Engineering graduates three to five years out will:
- be applying their knowledge of and skills in biochemical engineering fundamentals.
Student outcomes describe what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. The student outcomes for the Chemical Engineering program is:
- an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
- an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as 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.
The B.S. at Mines follows national standards in the teaching of chemical engineering and incorporates coursework in chemical engineering fundamentals, applications, and electives. Several faculty in the department regularly conduct and publish research on STEM pedagogy, and all faculty are active in regularly assessing and adjusting the curriculum to ensure Mines students receive the best possible education to prepare them for the chemical engineering workforce.
All Mines students will complete a core curriculum in mathematics, the basic sciences, physical activity, and the liberal arts.
Fundamental courses in chemical engineering include:
CBEN210 Introduction to Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics
CBEN201 Material and Energy Balances
CBEN307 Fluid Mechanics
CBEN314 Chemical Engineering Heat and Mass Transfer
CBEN357 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics
CBEN375 Chemical Engineering Separations
Applications-oriented chemical engineering courses that build on the student’s basic knowledge include:
CBEN312/313 Unit Operations Laboratory (Field Session)
CBEN402 Chemical Engineering Design
CBEN403 Process Dynamics and Control
CBEN414 Chemical Process Safety
CBEN418 Kinetics and Reaction Engineering
Advanced chemistry courses include:
CHGN221/222 Organic Chemistry I & II
CHGN223 Organic Chemistry I lab
CHGN351 Physical Chemistry (including lab)
Additionally, chemical engineering students must complete nine credits of free electives and fifteen credits of major electives.
There are many major elective options in chemical engineering including (but not limited to) energy focused courses such as Intro to Energy Technologies, Natural Gas Hydrates, Petroleum Processing, and Electrochemical Engineering; biology focused courses such as Brewing Science, Neuroscience, Intro to Biomedical Engineering, Intro to Genetics, Cell Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, and Human Quantitative Biology; material science courses such as Polymer Science, Advanced Functional Porous Materials, and Microelectronics Lab; and courses that expand on foundational skills such as Numerical Methods in Chemical Engineering, Process Optimization, and Intro to Chemical Engineering Practice.
Requirements are in place to ensure a certain number of major-electives include chemical engineering content. Additionally, twelve credits of the major electives may be used to earn a specialty track (further described in the sections below). Current students should ensure that they are taking the correct elective to fulfill their requirements by consulting the Mines Catalog and/or speaking with an advisor.
To learn more about the chemical engineering degree requirements, including suggested four-year plans, please visit catalog.mines.edu. Currently enrolled Mines students who are formally declared in the chemical engineering major should also see the CBE UG Communications Canvas site (including helpful 4-year advising sheets, elective information, research and career information – students are encouraged to check the Canvas site every semester). If you are a current Mines student who needs Canvas access, please email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tracks in chemical engineering
Students can complement their chemical engineering degree by adding one of three optional specialty tracks in biological engineering, process engineering, or honors research. The honors research track is by application only and includes additional requirements beyond coursework. All students who receive the B.S. in chemical engineering will complete the same set of core chemical engineering courses. Tracks do not require additional credits to the degree, but rather they further specify twelve credits of existing major-electives.
Biological engineering involves the application of engineering skills and analysis to developing products utilizing biological processes, including pharmaceutical products, food supplements, preservatives, bio-nanotechnology, and biomass-based energy. Biological Engineering Track Requirements: CHGN428 Biochemistry (3 credits), CBEN360 Bioprocess Engineering (3 credits), BIO TECH electives (6 credits from approved list).
Process engineering is the application of practical engineering skills to process design for areas such as chemical and fuels production, alternative energy, consulting, and project management. Process Engineering Track Requirements: EBGN321 Engineering Economics (3 credits), CBEN365 Intro to Chemical Engineering Practice (3 credits), PROCESS TECH electives (6 credits from approved list, at least 3 credits of CBEN4XX)
Honors Research is designed for students with a strong interest in research in chemical engineering, especially students who plan on continuing to graduate school and careers in national laboratories, academia, and research in industry. Honors Research Track Requirements: CBEN430 Transport Phenomena, CBEN5XX, CBEN350/450 Honors Undergraduate Research, CBEN368 Introduction to Research in Chemical Engineering. Additional requirements apply. See full information in section below.
Tracks are a great option for students who have an interest in these specialty areas, but students are not required to choose a track. Students who do not pursue a track will have greater flexibility with their electives, including six credits of technical electives which may be any 300-level or higher science, math, or engineering course at Mines. Students can combine minors with their degree to further customize their studies.
Additional track-specific requirements and suggested four-year plans can be found at catalog.mines.edu and for declared chemical engineering students on the CBE UG Communications Canvas site.
Additional info for the HONORS RESEARCH TRACK
What are the requirements of the Honors Research track?
> 12 credit hours of coursework (which take the place of 12 credits of major-level electives in the no-track degree):
CBEN 368 INTRODUCTION TO UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH (1 Hr, ideally taken in sophomore year or in fall of junior year)
CBEN 350 or 351 or 450 or 451 HONORS UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH(5 Hrs)*
CBEN 430 TRANSPORT PHENOMENA (3 hrs, taken in fall of the senior year)
CBEN 5XX CBE GRADUATE LEVEL COURSE (3 hrs)
*Research must be completed over a minimum of 2 semesters. Students who complete research for hourly pay (e.g., via the Mines Undergraduate Research Fellowship program or hourly contract) can petition for full or partial research credit equivalence at a rate of 56 hours/credit hour. If the equivalency is granted, the student must also complete an equivalent number of credit hours in an elective course approved by CBE’s Assistant Department Head. For example, a student who will complete 168 hours of paid research through MURF in an academic year could petition for three credits of CBEN350/450 to be waived, and would need to take one approved 3-credit elective course.
> Students in the Honors Research track must submit a written undergraduate thesis and obtain acceptance of the thesis from their advisor.
> Additionally, the student must publicly disseminate their research. Acceptable options include:
- Poster at Undergraduate Research Fair
- Presentation at Professional Conference
- Peer Reviewed Publication
- Other dissemination options may be approved by request to CBE’s Assistant Department Head
> Finally, the student must complete their degree with an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher.
How will I find a research advisor?
Students are strongly encouraged to begin conversations with prospective research advisors prior to applying to the track, though you are not required to secure an advisor prior to application. Research advisors can be from any department at Mines as long as the advisor agrees to supervise your thesis. In order to build a complete body of work for your undergraduate thesis, you are encouraged to work in the same research laboratory for all 5 of your research credits.
For students who do not have a research advisor upon preliminary acceptance to the track, the department will circulate their information to all faculty who are seeking undergraduate researchers. The department will assist in facilitating connections between students and possible research placements. Ultimately, it will be the student’s responsibility to schedule meetings and secure a research placement.
Students are welcome and encouraged to use the Mines Undergraduate Research Fellowship (MURF) program to source research placements. Typically, projects are posted to the MURF website by early April and it is wise to reach out to research advisors of interest as soon as possible after the projects are posted, as positions often fill quickly. Make sure to let faculty that you are also hoping to do the Honors Research Track in your conversations with them about their MURF project.
Who is eligible to apply?
- Application geared for sophomores (those currently enrolled in MEB), but juniors, particularly those who have pre-met some of the track requirements, are also welcome to apply
- Current minimum GPA of 3.3 or higher
- Applicants should have a strong interest in research; track is especially good for those who think graduate school may be in their future
Why might a student want to take the track?
- Boost your credentials for future graduate school or job applications
- Have research be a key part of your chemical engineering degree
- Pre-meet the requirements to receive “Undergraduate Research Scholar Distinction” at commencement
- Receive structured guidance and hands-on experience in conducting and disseminating research
- Gain a sense of accomplishment from completing an undergraduate thesis and advanced electives
Do I have to enroll in the track to conduct research?
No, many students are engaged in undergraduate research for credit or for pay without being enrolled in the track. Research may be completed under any track or the no-track option.
How can an interested student apply?
Enrollment in the track is limited to ensure that there are enough spaces in research labs to accommodate students.
- Students will enroll in the track by competitive application only
- Submit the (short and sweet!) online application by the deadline
- Have one Mines’ faculty member complete the online recommendation form by deadline
- Deadline will be in late March/early April. Information and application links will be emailed to all CBE sophomores and juniors annually. Contact your CBE advisor if you are interested and have not received information.
Biomedical Engineering Minor
The CBE Department also offers the minor in biomedical engineering at Mines. Biomedical engineering is an interdisciplinary field that combines the studies of biology, medicine, and engineering to advance human health.
To earn the minor, students must take at least 18 credits related to biomedical engineering. Required courses for the minor include CBEN110 Fundamentals of Biology I, CBEN120 Fundamentals of Biology II, CBEN310 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering, three credits of engineering electives related to BME, and at least four additional credits of science courses related to BME. A list of options that fulfill the engineering and science electives for the minor can be found at catalog.mines.edu.
The minor pairs well with the B.S. in chemical engineering. With careful planning, the minor can be added to the degree with only 9-10 additional credits of coursework (which may also overlap with free electives). When the minor in biomedical engineering is added to the B.S. in chemical engineering with biological engineering track, the student will graduate with a minimum of 25 credits in biology and bio-engineering coursework in their degree. Students can maximize their biomedical experience by working in one of the many bioengineering research labs on campus.
Combined Baccalaureate / Master's Degree Program
The Chemical and Biological Engineering Department offers the opportunity to begin work on a master of science degree, either thesis or non-thesis, while completing the requirements of the bachelor’s degree. It is expected that a student would be able to complete both degrees in five years for non-thesis with an additional semester or two potentially required for thesis-based students. To take advantage of the combined program, students should plan to be taking at least six credits of coursework to the M.S. degree during their senior year. For this reason, students are expected to apply to the program at the end of their junior year (by June 1). Students may also consult the current graduate student page. Generally speaking, students must have a GPA greater than 3.0 to be considered for the program. Interested students are encouraged to get more information from their advisor or the faculty member in charge of CBE graduate affairs. Students may also consult the current graduate catalog.
Frequently Asked Questions
Visit the CBE Undergraduate Program FAQ for more information for prospective and current undergraduate students.