These pages contain links for prospective students to learn more about Chemical Engineering (ChE), and the undergraduate program at Northwestern. Additional questions may be directed to Professor Jennifer Cole, undergraduate program director.
Department Overview Video
Featuring interviews with professors Josh Leonard, Lonnie Shea, Linda Broadbelt and Luis Amaral.
McCormick Video Tour
See the Technological Institute, Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center, and Cook Hall.
Where did Chemical Engineering come from?
Chemical Engineering (ChE) evolved during the 20th century in response to the need to analyze and design processes for the large scale manufacturing of products that involve physical, chemical, and biochemical transformations. While ChE is clearly rooted in Chemistry, it is a distinct discipline that makes significant contributions to society. Concerns about efficient utilization of raw materials, cost-effective and safe processing strategies, and environmental impact have, over time, shaped the evolution of the following unique set of skills that characterize ChE:
- Understanding of molecular transformations;
- Ability to work over a wide range of scales - from molecular to global;
- Quantitative analysis skills; and
- A viewpoint by which large, complex systems are synthesized and analyzed.
Where is Chemical Engineering going?
The tools imparted by a ChE education have proven to be extremely versatile and productive. As a result, today's chemical engineer is highly sought after to work in a wide array of industries and technologies extending far beyond the profession's roots in large scale chemical processing. This includes: environmental protection, energy, biotechnology & bioengineering, pharmaceuticals, food processing, consumer products, electronic materials, and even the financial sector. A major theme, profession-wide, is the ever-expanding application of ChE principles to biological problems.
Further descriptions of Chemical Engineering, in the context of the activities ChEs pursue professionally, is available from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers website.