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The Future of Chemical Engineering Design: Impact of Faculty Makeup and Industrial Needs

DOI: 10.1016/b978-0-444-63433-7.50010-9
  • Process Design
  • Abet
  • Chemical Engineering Education
  • Chemistry
  • Communication
  • Computer Science
  • Design
  • Engineering


Abstract This paper discusses the structure and makeup of chemical engineering faculties in the United States and how current hiring practices and promotion structures may change our ability and willingness to provide undergraduate students with the training industrial concerns expect, especially with regard to process systems engineering concepts. The goals of traditional process or product design courses are broad ones, and often encompass a significant number of the “soft skills” employers consistently mention as relevant. The technical objectives are mainly systems-wide thinking, and algorithm-based rather than physics or chemistry-based. Thus faculty with a basic science background often are less well-trained in process design, process control, and optimization courses. Yet due to a number of factors, university administrators are inclined to hire science-focused faculty, rather than those with an engineering mindset. This paper also discusses the mechanisms by which industry communicates its needs in terms of technical and non-technical training of chemical engineers to university faculties, and concludes with a warning about the direction many of our universities are taking with regard to the academic training of their faculty.

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