CBE Undergraduate Program FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a current student who needs advising assistance, where should I go?

You can make an advising appointment with the staff advisor for chemical engineering students by emailing Jennie Gambach at jgambach@mines.edu. If you are not yet declared into the major, you are encouraged to additionally see your assigned first-year CASA advisor for assistance. Students who are declared may also contact their assigned faculty advisor (see your Trailhead account to locate their name).

Jennie is typically best to see if you have general advising questions (e.g., what classes to take when, how to understand your degree evaluation, Registrar rules and policies, major GPA calculations, double checking your registration, recovering from a challenging semester, etc.). Your faculty advisor is usually best if you have questions that require in-depth content expertise in chemical engineering (e.g., why a particular prerequisite is important for a course, if it is better to take a course (e.g., process engineering) as a junior or a senior, what will be covered in specific chemical engineering course, what electives might be a good option to pursue if you have certain interests, etc.).

Declared students additionally have access to advising information in the CBE Communications Canvas site.

I’m a prospective student visiting campus, can I meet in person with someone in the department?

We love to meet with prospective students when possible, and with enough advance notice we may be able to accommodate your visit during normal business hours. To set up an appointment, please email cbe@mines.edu. We encourage you to sign up for the Mines’ general info session and campus tour (and/or housing tour) first through the admissions office. Indicate in your email to the department the dates and times you will have available. Department meetings generally take 25-45 minutes.

I am a prospective transfer student – can you tell me how my transfer credits will be evaluated?

 The Mines Registrar’s Office will make the final determinations regarding how your transfer credits will transfer. Since the CBE department is not directly involved in this decision-making process, we cannot conduct a transfer credit evaluation for you, but the transfer specialist in the Mines’ admissions may be able to answer your questions on how credits will transfer. Virtual transfer student admissions advisement sessions are available twice-a-day, Monday-Friday, at 10:00 AM MT and 2:00 PM MT. Learn more at: https://apply.mines.edu/portal/campus-visit 

Once you know how your transfer credits will be treated, an advisor in the CBE Department will be happy to meet with you to help you understand where you will start in chemical engineering curriculum and estimate how long the degree will take. Contact cbe@mines.edu to make an appointment.   

How will my AP/IB credits be treated?

The Registrar’s Office oversees the evaluation of AP/IB/concurrent enrollment credits. Please see the following website for a chart of AP/IB scores and what they will count for at Mines: https://www.mines.edu/registrar/advanced-placement/ 

When is the best time to transfer as an undergraduate into Mines if I plan to pursue chemical engineering?

We have found that it is most helpful for transfer students to do one year of carefully planned transfer coursework (or more, if prerequisite courses are needed to progress into the Mines first-year curriculum) and then start at Mines in the fall semester. The core chemical engineering curriculum starts in earnest in the spring term of the sophomore year, so it is possible to successfully transfer in spring . However, when possible, the fall start is preferable since it allows students to take CBEN210 Intro to Thermodynamics and have a semester to adjust to Mines before launching fully into the chemical engineering core curriculum in spring. We have found that students are more successful in the core courses when they have the opportunity to take CBEN210 Intro to Thermo prior to their sophomore spring.

The Registrar’s Office has developed transfer guides for the Colorado Community College system that can give a very good picture of what to expect. If you are attending a school outside of those institutions, you can schedule a transfer advising appointment with the admissions office for more explicit advisement.

I already have 2 or more years of community college coursework. How quickly can I complete a Mines degree in chemical engineering?

The fastest you can complete the degree is 2 calendar years—this would be with a spring start and December graduation (4 semesters + one summer term at 6 credits). This is assuming that you have completed the majority of the Mines core curriculum (the courses all Mines students take, regardless of major) and are not transferring in any chemical engineering-specific courses. Many transfer students will take 2.5 years even if substantial transfer credits apply, and usually it is in student’s best interest to not overload on credits.

How do your students get hands-on experience?

The majority of Mines CBE students have some sort of out-of-classroom technical experience by graduation.

Many of our students complete internships over the course of their time at Mines, and a handful more will complete more lengthy co-op experiences. Mines CBE students have obtained internships in all facets of chemical engineering. Recent internship employers have included Bayer Healthcare, ExxonMobil, Frito Lay, IX Power Clean Water, MillerCoors, PPG Aerospace, Procter & Gamble, Texas Instruments, Washington River Protection Solutions, and Xcel Energy – to give just a sampling.

In addition to internships, a sizable number of Mines students complete undergraduate research in laboratories on and off campus. On campus, the CBE department regularly has the among the greatest participation of all departments at Mines in the Mines Undergraduate Research Fellowship (a paid research program). We also have a sizable number of students conduct research for credit towards their degree. Off campus, Mines students have been successful in securing National Science Foundation funded “Research Experience for Undergraduate” (REU) slots across the country each summer. Locally, we have students researching or interning at the National Renewable Energy lab in Golden nearly every semester.

Finally, laboratory experience is incorporated into the curriculum and students frequently complete hands-on projects even as part of courses that do not traditionally have a lab component. The most intensive hands-on experience students will encounter is the chemical engineering field session, a six-credit course taken the summer after the junior or senior year. Additionally, all students will complete a group senior design project. Read more about field session and senior design elsewhere in the FAQ.

What is chemical engineering field session like?

In field session (unit operations laboratory), students will run several lab experiments, analyze the data, write technical reports, and give oral presentations — a direct simulation of what they will encounter in the work-force, but in a more condensed timeframe. Students will have the opportunity to lead a team of peers for at least one experiment; they will grapple with data that may be incomplete; they will report to different faculty for each experiment; and they will work under tight deadlines.

Alumni and employers alike have said that tackling these challenges help Mines CBE graduates develop strong problem-solving and communication skills, and the ability to really hit the ground running when entering the workforce. We also try to have a little bit of fun with students selecting a theme for their session (e.g., Harry Potter) and competing for related top honors.

In order to accomplish these goals, chemical engineering field session is a full-time experience and currently only offered in the summer term. As theory learned in the junior year is required, students may not take field session early, but may choose to delay field session until after the senior year in order to complete an internship the summer of the junior year. Students who delay field session can participate in May commencement and will receive their diploma mid-August. Many start full-time employment as early as the end of June. 

Is there a culminating capstone project for chemical engineering students? (senior Design)

Yes, all students in the major will take CBEN402 Senior Design, a project-based course, in the fall of their final academic year. In the course, students work in teams of five with other chemical engineering students to conceptualize and simulate a solution to a real world chemical engineering problem using modeling software that is standard to professionals working in the field. They also complete cost and economic models for their solutions.

Examples of recent design projects:

    • Production of green diesel from FOG (fats, oils, and greases)
    • Design of a drinking water treatment plant                 
    • Developing a pharmaceutical for treating PNH (paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria, a rare disease)            
    • Creating small-scale ammonia production (Ammonia is one of the most commonly produced industrial chemicals in the US and is used for agricultural, industrial, and manufacturing purposes. Ammonia production has traditionally been based on large-scale plants, but there is an increasing interest in smaller scale production due to the promise of environmental and cost benefits.)    
Are students involved in undergraduate research in chemical engineering?

Emphatically, yes! Undergraduates can be found as contributing members of virtually every faculty member’s research group in the CBE Department. In fact, Chemical and Biological Engineering students have taken home the First-Place honor at every Mines Undergraduate Research Symposium, since the symposium was launched over 3 years ago.

Undergraduates are engaged in projects in energy (both traditional and renewable), biomedical and bioengineering, novel materials, polymers and complex fluids, membranes and catalysis, and beyond. Our faculty projects range from developing smart wound dressings that help regrow tissue in place to designing materials that safely store hydrogen for use on clean-energy cars. More about research projects can be found under the “Faculty and Staff” tab of the website, by clicking into individual faculty profiles.  

Beyond the Chemical and Biological Engineering department, ChemE students have also been successful in finding research projects in Chemistry, Civil and Environmental Engineering, and even in the Mechanical Engineering department. 

Where do Mines students get jobs?

Mines CBE graduates are spread across a wide swath of chemical engineering sectors such as aerospace, biomedical, consulting and construction, government, oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, electronics, manufacturing, and chemicals—with no one sector dominating employment. Recent employers of Mines graduates have included: AstraZeneca, SpaceX, Halker Consulting, Phillips 66, Seagate Technology, Western Sugar Coop, Lhoist, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Spirit Environmental, National Renewable Energy Lab, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, and Hewlitt Packard – to provide a much-abridged list.

How does the combined B.S./M.S. degree program in chemical engineering work (4+1)?

Students are eligible to apply to the program at the end of the spring term of their junior year in the curriculum. If accepted, they are pre-approved to take graduate courses in the senior year, alongside their undergraduate courses. The master’s degree requires 30 credits beyond the bachelor degree requirements. Students cannot double count requirements for the M.S. in Chemical Engineering. Any graduate courses taken as an undergraduate are taken in free spaces in the schedule created due to transfer credit, summer courses, AP/IB, etc. 

The student will receive their B.S. degree as soon as they have completed all of the B.S. requirements. They will then be classified as an M.S. student and finish any M.S. requirements. In order to complete the master’s degree in only one additional year, it is recommended students take at least 6 graduate credits (2 courses) during the senior year of the undergraduate curriculum. Graduate and undergraduate courses may be treated differently by financial aid. Students should make sure to speak to financial aid prior to enrolling in any graduate courses.

In addition to the chemical engineering master’s program, Mines offers several other graduate programs of interest to CBE students. Most of these programs do allow up to six credits of double count between the B.S. and M.S. These programs include engineering and technology management, materials science, nuclear engineering, quantitative biosciences and engineering, and advanced energy systems, amongst others. For more information, visit: https://www.mines.edu/graduate-admissions/ 

What scholarships are available to chemical engineering students?

All incoming first-year students who are U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents and who are fully admitted prior to May 1 will be automatically evaluated for merit scholarships by the Financial Aid office. Some of these scholarships are designated for students with a listed major-of-interest in chemical engineering.

Additionally, throughout the academic year the Mines Foundation notifies the department of corporate and alumni donor scholarships that are targeted to chemical engineering (and sometimes other majors) at Mines. Students should monitor their emails closely for scholarship announcements.  Most of these scholarships require a short application, but only a limited percentage of eligible students apply, so it is in your best interest to throw your hat in the ring if you meet the criteria! 

If you have faced an unexpected emergency that is causing a financial crisis impeding your ability to stay enrolled, please speak to the CBE department about the emergency scholarship fund. 

Is there funding available for students facing an emergency financial crisis?

Yes! Colorado School of Mines has an emergency fund available for students. This includes funds set aside specifically for chemical engineering majors through the generous donations of alumni, students, faculty, and staff to the iDig Mines fundraising campaign. The emergency scholarship fund grants small awards (e.g., $200-$1,200) to students who are facing an unexpected event that leads to financial hardship. Awards can be used towards things like tuition, fees, living expenses, books, other academic supplies, and in some cases even travel home. Please contact the CBE Department Head or Mines Dean of Students Office if you are in need and want to discuss your eligibility to apply.