About the Department
Chemical Engineering at Brigham Young University was officially initiated in 1955 with the renaming of the Department of Chemistry to the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Only 1 full-time faculty member taught the chemical engineering courses at that time. In 1958, a separate Department of Chemical Engineering was formed, by this time with 3 faculty members. The undergraduate program was first accredited in 1961 and has been accredited ever since. A Masters degree in chemical engineering was approved in 1962, and the PhD program received approval in 1968. From those beginnings, the department has grown to its present size of 13 full-time faculty, around 350 undergraduate students, and approximately 45 graduate students.
Consistent with the emphasis of Brigham Young University, the Department of Chemical Engineering is vitally concerned about the education of undergraduate students. Because of that concern, every student is assigned an advisor immediately upon entering the department and is required to visit with that advisor and review his/her progress toward graduation at least twice during his/her academic career. In addition, the faculty of the department personally teach all of the classes, as opposed to turning them over to Teaching Assistants (Teaching Assistants help with the tutoring of students and with the grading of work, but they very rarely act as the main teacher for the class). Classes are relatively small, ranging from the largest freshman class of approximately 100 students down to the smaller specialty classes of around 10-15, thus helping to promote interaction among students and between students and faculty. Furthermore, the faculty generally learn the names of their students early in each semester, even in the freshman class of 100, and work to foster an atmosphere of friendship and brotherhood. Excellence in teaching is promoted, and student learning is enhanced by innovative methods, quality laboratories, and the participation of undergraduates in faculty research programs (described below). As a result, the undergraduate program, which is fully accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, is one of the finest in the United States.
Graduate scholarship and research are conducted by all members of the faculty as part of the graduate program leading towards the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Research topics vary widely, including such areas as biomedical engineering, catalysis, combustion, electrochemical engineering, energy, environmental engineering, teaching pedagogy, and thermodynamics. There have been many highlights in the scholarly work of the department, but a few of the "larger" events are worth mentioning. For example, under the direction of key Chemical Engineering faculty at BYU, the Advanced Combustion Engineering Research Center (ACERC) was founded in 1985 by the National Science Foundation (only 5 Engineering Research Centers were funded out of over 100 applications from major universities). Over its first 10 years, this prestigious center brought in over 27 million dollars to BYU, resulted in 700 publications, and graduated 200 students. As another example, the Department of Chemical Engineering at BYU was selected by the Design Institute for Physical Property Data (DIPPR), an organization of the national American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), to manage and upgrade its large database of thermophysical properties, beginning in 1998. Managed by three Chemical Engineering faculty members, the project serves chemical companies all over the world and brings in $250,000 per year. The quality of the department’s graduate program is very respectable. In 1995, the doctoral program in Chemical Engineering at BYU was ranked 50 out of 168 Chemical Engineering Departments in the United States by the National Research Council. Furthermore, in that same year, the department was ranked #11 in the country in terms of federal support of research and #20 in the country in terms of total research support.
The Department of Chemical Engineering fully supports the mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to educate the whole person. Thus, the faculty seek to promote an atmosphere consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ as a foundation for teaching and learning chemical engineering principles.