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Chemical Engineering

Chemical Engineering is the responsible application of science to develop processes or systems for the economic production and distribution of beneficial materials through the physical, chemical, or biochemical transformation of matter.

Chemical Engineers combine a sound background in fundamental understanding of science and mathematics with highly-developed problem-solving skills to improve existing processes or methods, or to implement new ones. The principles of economic production and distribution differentiate engineering activities from those of science. Chemical engineers will be required for many exciting new developments during the next few decades.

Chemical engineers design, analyse, optimize and control processing operations, or guide others who perform these functions, in industry, government, universities or private practice.

Activity areas include:

Energy: conservation; improved production and use of renewable and non-renewable resources.

Materials: minerals; fertilizers; petrochemicals; biochemicals; processed foods; paints; pulp and paper; polymers; textiles; etc.

Environment: pollution control; recycling; environmental safety and regulations; etc.

People: management functions; group leader, plant manager, research director, president; etc.

In a world faced with growing shortages of non-renewable resources and a finite limit on the amounts of renewable resources, persons wishing to use their talents to optimize the recovery or utilization of matter and energy will find Chemical Engineering a challenging and satisfying career, one which will place them in enviable positions with respect to the availability of employment opportunities.

In recent years, significant numbers of women are entering the engineering profession and this trend is increasing as they become more aware of the career opportunities available. More women now enter Chemical Engineering than any other branch of engineering.

Waterloo offers the student a first-rate opportunity to obtain a sound, relevant background in the discipline of Chemical Engineering. The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo is one of the largest and most active departments in North America. There are over 30 full-time faculty, each of whom specializes in a particular sub-field through research and consulting activities, thereby bringing depth as well as breadth to the instruction and professional development of students.

Chemical Engineering at Waterloo is a co-operative education program and offers many advantages:

The Waterloo Chemical Engineering Curriculum

The main emphasis in the first and second year is on courses in science and mathematics which provide the foundations upon which engineering skills can be built. The upper-year core and elective courses assume and require this background.

Engineering is both a quantitative and an applied discipline, requiring the skill to be able both to set up the mathematical equations which describe a process and then to solve the equations to analyse and predict its behaviour. This requires a strong mathematical ability. Courses in Calculus, Algebra, Computer Science, Differential Equations, and Statistics help develop this ability. More specialized Engineering Mathematics courses extend into the third year.

To perform successfully, the Chemical Engineer must be able to design, analyse, and control processes to produce useful and desirable products from less valuable raw materials in an efficient, economic, and socially responsible way. The knowledge and skills essential for achieving these goals are developed in the core Chemical Engineering courses taken mainly in the third and fourth years (e.g., in fluid mechanics, process flowsheeting, heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, reactor design, biotechnology, process control, process and equipment design, engineering economics). Most of these courses are a mixture of theory and practice. Detailed computer simulations are used in several courses to reinforce the theoretical principles.

All students in the fourth year do either an individual research or design project, or a group process design project in direct collaboration with one of their professors. Numerous Canadian companies also sponsor projects.

The range of subject matter within Chemical Engineering is much too extensive to be mastered by any one student during the four-year program. Consequently, in the fourth year, a student may select several technical elective courses to further develop her/his understanding of, and ability to use, engineering principles applied to important Canadian industrial sectors.

Many of these electives are grouped within a common specialty theme which is covered in some depth. Students are required to take at least one of the elective themes which are described briefly below. The remaining technical elective requirements can be met by taking additional packages, or approved courses of interest either within the Department or elsewhere in the University.

An important component of the development of a professional engineer, which receives emphasis throughout the entire four-year curriculum, is frequent practice in learning to communicate technical results clearly, accurately and effectively to others. Written practice is provided in the requirement for co-op work term reports which are graded by faculty. Written and oral report requirements in laboratory and other courses provide additional practice opportunities.

Many courses are common core courses for both the Environmental Engineering and Chemical Engineering students, so there is a significant environmental focus in much of the core Chemical Engineering curriculum.


Combined Bachelor's - Master's Program in Chemical Engineering

Provision is made for outstanding students to pursue a combined Bachelor's - Master's Program. This program provides a quicker route to the MASc degree. Admission is normally granted to qualified students possessing a consistently good cumulative academic record at the end of the 3A term. See "Combined Bachelor's - Master's Program in Engineering" for more details.


Areas of Specialization Available in Chemical Engineering

Transport Processes

As an extension of the core curriculum, this covers advanced aspects and industrial applications of fluid flow, heat transfer, mass transfer, reaction kinetics and petroleum engineering.

Mathematical Analysis, Statistics and Control

This also deals with the further development of a core area of Chemical Engineering. It involves studies in optimal control, economic and process optimization, simulation, and statistics. Dedicated computer process laboratory and state-of-the-art industrial software systems provide excellent vehicles for learning.


Polymer Science and Engineering

This elective theme has a wide scope, but special emphasis is placed on the physics and physical chemistry of polymers, and on the modifications of polymer structure by physical or chemical means.

Extractive and Process Metallurgy

This involves the application of Chemical Engineering principles to metallurgical processes in order to improve many of the pyrometallurgical, electrolytic and hydrometallurgical processes presently used in Canada. Chemical metallurgy is inter-related with these principles for overall process design and development.


Biochemical Engineering (Industrial Biotechnology)

This theme deals with the processing of systems where biochemical phenomena are important. It is concerned withfermentation operations and equipment which manufacture products such as alcoholic beverages, yeasts, antibiotics, therapeutics, vitamins and enzymes, often using genetically-engineered organisms, and with waste treatment and food processing.

Pollution Control Engineering

This elective package presents aspects of industrial waste treatment and pollution abatement techniques which are becoming increasingly important for the proper use of technology in a quality conscious society.


Complementary Studies Electives (CSE's)

Five one-term courses in non-technical areas (that is, outside the engineering, sciences and mathematics disciplines) must be taken. This requirement is organized on a Faculty basis and is detailed elsewhere in this Engineering Chapter. If some Complementary Studies Electives are satisfied by distance education or from other institutions on Letters of Permission, each term's minimum course load must be maintained by substituting an approved "free" elective (technical or non-technical).


Options and Minors

A number of Faculty or University Designated Options available to Engineering students are listed and described elsewhere in this Engineering Chapter. Students who satisfy the option requirements (usually seven or eight courses) will have the appropriate designation shown on their transcript.

Minors are sequences of courses, usually totalling ten, which are arranged in conjunction with another department such as Economics, Biology, Psychology, etc. and lead to an appropriately designated degree. Approval from both Chemical Engineering and the other department is required.

Usually students must take extra courses to complete a Minor or a Designated Option.

Students taking the Management Sciences Option should take M SCI 211 in 2B, M SCI 311 in 3B, M SCI 461 in 4A, and M SCI 432 or other choice in 4B. M SCI 331 should be taken as an "extra" course in the 3B term.


Academic Program

Term 1A, Fall CH E 100 Chemical Engineering Concepts 1 (units and mass balances) CH E 102 Chemistry for Engineers (stoichiometry to kinetics) MATH 115 Linear Algebra for Engineering (formerly MATH 114) MATH 117 Calculus 1 for Engineering (derivatives to applications of integration) PHYS 115 Mechanics (statics, kinematics to angular momentum)
Term 1B, Winter and Spring CH E 101 Chemical Engineering Concepts II (units and energy balances) GEN E 121 Digital Computation (computers and Fortran programs) GEN E 123 Electrical Engineering (electricity and circuits) MATH 118 Calculus 2 for Engineering (power series, O.D.E.'s and multiple integrals) PHYS 125 Waves (oscillations, optics and quantum physics) CSE XX1 Approved Complementary Studies Elective
Term 2A, Fall and Winter CH E 021 Transport Processes 1 (separation processes) CH E 022 Applied Mathematics 1 (statistics) CH E 023 Physical Chemistry 1 (thermodynamics to phase equilibria) CHEM 026 Organic Chemistry 1 (aliphatic compounds and preparations) MATH 217 Calculus 3 for Chemical Engineering (formerly MATH 210) (gradients to integral theorems)
Term 2B, Spring and Fall CH E 025 Transport Processes 2 (fluid mechanics) CH E 026 Physical Chemistry 2 (thermodynamics to kinetics) CHEM 036 Organic Chemistry 2 (industrial organic processes) MATH 218 Differential Equations (O.D.E.'s and Laplace transforms) CSE XX2 Approved Complementary Studies Elective
Term 3A, Winter and Spring CH E 030 Transport Processes 3 (heat transfer) CH E 031 Process Flowsheeting (modelling and CAD) CH E 032 Introductory Biotechnology (foods to genetic engineering) CH E 033 Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics (applications) CH E 034 Inorganic Process Principles 1 (acids to metallurgy)
Term 3B, Fall and Winter CH E 035 Transport Processes 4 (mass transfer) CH E 036 Chemical Reaction Engineering (theory of reactor design) CH E 037 Applied Mathematics 2 (applied ordinary and partial D.E.s.) CH E 038 Inorganic Process Principles 2 (electrolysis to corrosion) CSE XX3 Approved Complementary Studies Elective
Term 4A, Spring and Fall CH E 040 Unit Operations Laboratory (separators and reactors) CH E 041 Introduction to Process Control (transfer fns. to computer control) CH E 043 Individual Research Project begins CH E 044 Engineering Economics (money value to optimal analysis) CH E 045 Process Equipment Sizing and Selection CSE XX4 Approved Complementary Studies Elective
Term 4B, Winter CH E 047 Team Project or continuation of CH E 043 or 048 CH E 5X1 Technical elective from 1 area of specialization below CH E 5X2 Technical elective from same area CH E 5X3 Technical elective from another area or another department CSE XX5 Approved Complementary Studies Elective
  1. Transport Processes
    CH E 512 Separation Processes
    CH E 514 Fundamentals of Petroleum Production
  2. Mathematical Analysis and Control
    CH E 522 Advanced Process Control
    CH E 524 Process Control Laboratory
  3. Reaction Processes (not offered in 1995-96)
  4. Polymer Science and Engineering
    CH E 542 Polymerization and Polymer Properties (2 course credits)
  5. Extractive and Process Metallurgy (not offered in 1995-96)
    CH E 552 Extractive Metallurgy 1
    CH E 554 Extractive Metallurgy 2
  6. Industrial Biochemical Technology
    CH E 562 Fermentation Engineering
    CH E 564 Food Process Engineering
  7. Pollution Control Engineering
    CH E 572 Air Pollution Control
    CH E 574 Aqueous Inorganic Wastes

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