Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon
What do we do for careers? How much do we get paid? Where do we go to school after our undergraduate degrees?
What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical engineering is a broad discipline based on mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Chemical engineering applies principles of chemical engineering science and process systems engineering for development and commercialization of new products and processes. Chemical engineering science is knowledge, in the form of data and models, that helps the chemical engineer to understand and to predict the transport and transformation of chemicals in processes. Process systems engineering provides methodologies for the systematic design, control, operations and analysis of these processes, as well as their economic evaluation, safety and environmental assessment.
What do Chemical Engineers Do?
The chemical engineering profession offers challenging and well-compensated careers in the process industries, including high-technology areas. Chemical engineers design safe, efficient and environmentally friendly chemical processes, supervise the operation of chemical plants and develop new products and processes. In the chemicals and petroleum industry, chemical engineers develop catalysts and new reaction and separation units to improve yields in the production of fuels and commodity chemicals. Chemical engineers are also found in industries associated with polymers (plastics and resins) and coatings (paint, integrated circuits, magnetic tapes). The pharmaceutical industry recruits chemical engineers who possess expertise in both process engineering and biochemistry/molecular biology. In the semiconductor industry, chemical engineers supervise the processing of complex polymers, chip fabrication and production of thin films. Many consulting companies seek chemical engineers for evaluation of the economic feasibility of industrial projects, and for software development for the design, analysis and operation of chemical processes. Finally, the depth and breadth of coursework makes chemical engineering an excellent preparatory major for students interested in medical and business schools.
(See specific career examples.)
Highlights of the program
The department emphasizes problem-solving techniques in the learning of basic principles in chemical engineering science and process systems engineering. Computing is integrated throughout the curriculum and extensive use is made of software for mathematical modeling and simulation in the department’s Gary J. Powers Educational Computer Lab. The Robert Rothfus Laboratory features state-of-the-art experiments with applications in safety, environment, product development, and computerized data acquisition and control. In addition to several engineering minors that students may choose, the Colloids, Polymers and Surfaces option is also available, as well as a minor in Manufacturing Management and Consulting, and the double major in Biomedical and Health Engineering. The department’s educational program also strives to broaden the experience of students by offering a significant number of electives, an active program for undergraduate research, and the following programs that showcase the strong industrial ties of the department:
International Exchange Program
The department has devised its own exchange programs with RWTH Aachen in Germany, Imperial College in London, Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea, and Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL) in Argentina. We also have a summer semester exchange with Technische Universität Dortmund in Germany.
Practical Internship for Senior Chemical Engineering Students (PISCES)
Chemical Engineering students may participate in Practical Internships for Senior Chemical Engineering students (PISCES), a year-long industrial internship program possible between the junior and senior years. This program provides meaningful work opportunities within industrial settings for qualified juniors.
Masters of Chemical Engineering Degree
Qualified students may enroll in the Master of Chemical Engineering degree program. Students complete the degree requirements in one additional year at the University or less.
- Additive Manufacturing
- Audio Engineering
- Automation and Control
- Biomedical Engineering
- Colloids, Polymers, and Surfaces
- Electronic Materials
- Environmental Engineering & Sustainability
- Global Engineering
- Manufacturing Engineering
- Materials Science & Engineering
- Mechanical Behavior of Materials
Placement Undergraduate Students
Average starting salary (2013-2018): $72,314
Major employers (2013-2018) *Companies with more than 3 hires
Major graduate schools (2013-2018)Caltech
Colorado School of Mines
Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst.
UC, Santa Barbara
UC, San Diego
University of Cambridge
University of Colorado
University of Delaware
Univ of MS School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania
University of Pittsburgh
University of Texas, Austin*