Chemical engineering will necessarily play a prominent role in all realistic solutions to national and international problems of energy, environment, and food. Progress toward solutions in these areas rests with judicious application of science. Such is the domain of the chemical engineer.
The graduate plans of study in chemical engineering are heavily oriented toward synthesis as well as the usual emphasis upon analysis. There is a strong thread of physics, chemistry, mathematics, biochemistry, and microbiology in much of the research in the department. Active research areas include polymer science and engineering, colloid and surface chemistry, solid state chemistry and physics, microelectronics and nanotechnology, applied thermodynamics, biomolecular modeling, biochemical and tissue engineering, catalysis and surface science, pollution prevention and computer-aided design, and supercritical fluid science and technology. This brief list of topics give an indication of the breadth and diversity of research areas in the department.
Programs are also available for students with undergraduate degrees other than chemical engineering. Chemistry majors, especially those with thorough backgrounds in physical chemistry and mathematics, as well as graduates in biochemistry and microbiology, can re-orient their studies. The applied science nature of the research in the department facilitates this reorientation process for such students. Ph.D. programs to meet the needs of these students generally may require additional courses.
The Ph.D. and M.S. degrees include a core of 14 credits in transport phenomena, thermodynamics, kinetics and mathematics. These courses are supplemented with electives chosen in support of the thesis research or the student's special interests. The Ph.D. is awarded only to those students who demonstrate the initiative and ability to carry through a significant research program, resulting in a thesis. A thesis is required of all M.S. degree students.
Much of the research in the department involves multidisciplinary efforts; as such, chemical engineering students develop strong interactions with students and faculty in and out of the department and across colleges.
Prospective graduate students can learn more about the Graduate School at Virginia Tech and the Chemical Engineering Department from the following links: