Chemical Engineering Major
Chemical engineering answers the question of what chemistry can do to improve the world around us. Chemical engineers are problem-solvers who take raw materials and turn them into useful materials. Our undergraduate program includes a thorough immersion in the core concepts of chemistry—general, organic, physical, and analytical—followed by a series of upper-level chemical engineering courses that develop your ability to apply these concepts to develop new, innovative solutions to engineering problems.
The coursework in our program culminates in the Senior Design course, in which student teams, working with industry mentors, put their knowledge to work on a real-world issue that matters to them. Recent projects have focused on creating biofuels from wood chips, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by using chemical solvents to capture carbon dioxide, and meeting an increasing global demand for the chemical propylene. Senior Design projects offer a true opportunity to pick a cause you are passionate about and spend two semesters working on it—and the experience often proves valuable when applying for full-time jobs.
UIC chemical engineering also is home to a concentration in biochemical engineering, which is of particular interest to students who love not only chemistry, but also biology. This concentration helps to position students for jobs or further study at the intersection of bioengineering and chemical engineering.
Chemical Engineering Major Requirements
Chemical engineering majors complete coursework in four categories:
- Nonengineering and general education courses: Nonengineering and general education courses provide your foundation in chemistry and other core sciences, and include courses that will make you a well-informed and well-rounded college graduate. You will take 73 credit hours in this category, including eight courses in chemistry, two in physics, four in math, and a range of “chart-your-own-path” classes in areas such as Exploring World Cultures and Understanding the Creative Arts. For details on general education requirements, consult the course catalog.
- Required engineering courses: Students earn 49 credit hours from engineering courses that all chemical engineering majors must take. These courses—including Transport Phenomena I, II, and III, Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, and Material Energy Balances—offer a thorough introduction to the field. Details on these requirements are in the course catalog.
- Technical electives: Chemical engineering majors choose one upper-level elective (3 credit hours) within the department. Options include Nanotechnology for Pharmaceutical Applications, Process Simulation with Aspen Plus, Computational Molecular Modeling, Renewable Energy Technologies, Biochemical Engineering, and more (see the course catalog for details).
- Free elective: Chemical engineering majors also choose one elective (3 credit hours) from anywhere in the College of Engineering or UIC as a whole.
Biochemical Engineering Concentration
UIC offers a concentration in biochemical engineering for students who want to add an additional layer of specificity to their degree. This option is ideal for students who have an interest in biology or medicine, or for students who envision themselves working with applications of chemical engineering that can have a positive impact on medical treatment and the human body.
Students who choose this concentration complete CHE 422 Biochemical Engineering as their technical elective. In addition, their free elective plus one additional free elective must come from this list:
- BIOS 350 General Microbiology
- BIOS 351 Microbiology Laboratory
- CHEM 352 Introductory Biochemistry
- CHEM 452 Biochemistry I
Because students in the biochemical engineering concentration must choose two free electives, this may elevate the number of credit hours required for the degree to 130 rather than the standard 128 for the chemical engineering major.
ChE Majors in Their Own Words
Chemical Engineering, BS ’21 | Northwest suburbs
Favorite course: CHE 312 Transport Phenomena II.
Favorite thing about your department: The new Engineering Innovation Building and Professor Sharma‘s research!
Most challenging engineering project/assignment you’ve conquered so far: Going from ordinary to partial differential equations and using dimensionless analysis.
Which was the most valuable internship or lab experience you’ve had, and how did it help you? The Optics, Dynamics, Elasticity and Self-Assembly Lab taught me the importance of teamwork and guidance.
Chemical Engineering, BS ’22 | Chicago, IL
Engineering project/assignment you did that you’re most proud of: Making mini solar panels.
Coolest department at UIC outside of your major: Gender and Women Studies.
Would you recommend the College of Engineering to new applicants? Yes. I believe they would be making one of the best choices for their career and for their own personal experience.
Favorite place in Chicago: The 606.
Learn More About the Chemical Engineering Major
Program Educational Objectives: ChE Major
As part of our accreditation process, ABET asks our department to capture the overall goals of the chemical engineering program. These are called our educational program objectives. They are:
- In engineering practice, advanced study, or original research, UIC chemical engineering bachelor’s degree graduates will be effective in applying fundamental principles, scientific knowledge, rigorous analysis, creative design, and conceptual innovation.
- Based upon mastery of engineering in a broad, societal context, UIC chemical engineering graduates will have successful careers in the public or private sectors, or in the pursuit of graduate education.
- In the service of industry, government, the engineering profession, and society at large, graduates will function effectively in the complex modern work environment with clear communication, responsible teamwork, and high standards of ethics, professionalism, safety, and protection of the environment.
- Based upon a rigorous undergraduate program that is innovative, challenging, open, and supportive, graduates will enhance their skills and knowledge through life-long learning and will demonstrate professional leadership.
Student Outcomes: ChE Major
Another part of the ABET accreditation process requires the department to identify the specific knowledge and skills that students are intended to have when they complete their undergraduate education. These are called student outcomes.
Students graduating from the chemical engineering program at UIC will have:
- an ability to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
- an ability to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors.
- an ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences.
- an ability to recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must consider the impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts.
- an ability to function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
- an ability to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
- an ability to acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies.
In the 2020-2021 academic year, 259 students are enrolled at UIC Engineering as chemical engineering majors across all class years. The department graduated 66 chemical engineering majors in the academic year ending August 2020.