School of Chemical SciencesCollege of Liberal Arts & SciencesCollege of Engineering
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About Us

About Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to improve the human prospect through the study and practice of chemical engineering by education, research, economic development and service to the profession and society.

Our Vision

We seek to distinguish ourselves through sterling technical and educational quality, aimed consciously at conceiving new ways to benefit an increasingly complex and integrated world.

History: Building a Tradition of Excellence Since 1901

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Illinois is proud of its long tradition of academic excellence. The department was founded in 1901 by Samuel Parr and is one of the oldest chemical engineering departments in the nation.

Parr (1858-1931) came to the Illinois Industrial College, later named the University of Illinois, in 1885 as an instructor, when the staff size in the entire university numbered 43. He developed standard methods for measuring the quality of coal and invented the Parr calorimeter, which is still used today for measuring the heating value of fuels. Parr taught the first courses at the university in applied chemistry, and he established the chemical engineering curriculum.

The department has evolved over the years under the direction of several notable leaders. For example, Donald Keyes, who became the head in 1926, developed the first successful commercial method for producing absolute alcohol — a method still used today. New laboratory facilities were established in the East Chemistry Building — now known as the Roger Adams Laboratory — in 1950, under the leadership of H. Fraser Johnstone, who emphasized graduate education and brought in new faculty to ensure the standards of excellence for decades to come.

The department became an independent unit within the School of Chemical Sciences in 1968, when Jim Westwater was the head. As the department grew, so did the need for space, leading to expansion into Davenport Hall in 1988. Under the leadership of Richard Alkire, renovation of large parts of Roger Adams Laboratory were undertaken to provide our teaching and research missions with high-quality space. Guided by Chip Zukoski, the department changed its name to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2002, to reflect the growing influence of biological and genetic research in chemical engineering research and education.

In recent years, under the leadership of Deborah Leckband and Ed Seebauer, the department has grown further. The productivity of the faculty is among the highest in the nation. The Illinois tradition of technical excellence in chemical engineering education and research, rooted in deep scientific foundations, continues today. Our faculty, students and alumni continue to express strong appreciation for the Illinois heritage.

The Department Today: Leading By Example and Preparing Future Generations

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has strived to maintain its distinguished record of education and research. During the past decade the department ranked in the top 10 in both undergraduate and graduate education when compared to its cohorts.

The department is a unit within the School of Chemical Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It maintains close ties with the Engineering at Illinois, which has been consistently ranked among the top five in the nation based on surveys conducted by U.S. News & World Report

The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering undergraduate program is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012, telephone: (410) 347-7700. That accreditation includes consideration of the program’s educational objectives and outcomes and assures that this program meets the expectations for training a professional chemical and biomolecular engineer.

One of the major strengths for the department is its exceptional students. In 2014, 105 B.S., 11 M.S. and 26 Ph.D. degrees were awarded. Our students have diverse backgrounds and come from all across the world, fostering students' abilities to think and act globally.

The department has expanded its education boundaries through collaboration with the National University of Singapore (NUS); the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR); and Tsinghua University in China to expand graduate education. Actively participating in the globalization of education and research is a collaborative effort where interests, capabilities and resources of each institution combine to offer unique and advantageous opportunities

The department is proud to highlight its prominent alumni and their achievements, including alumni and faculty elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE).