History

Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

The Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering department was founded in 1914 as a result of student demand and abundant job opportunities in Delaware’s growing chemical industry. By the early 1920s, chemical engineers had the largest number of graduates of all the engineering programs. Borrowing courses from mechanical and electrical engineering and the standard chemistry sequence, the department existed as a curriculum only until 1938, when it was reorganized and given a home in the new Brown Laboratory. Under the leadership of the first department chair, Dr. Allan P. Colburn, and his successors the department attained prominence as a world leader in graduate education and research. In the early 1960s, the University of Delaware was ranked fifth among chemical engineering departments nationwide, and has consistently been ranked in the top ten. The department is seen as one of the top places in the country for research in the areas of catalysis and reaction engineering, and is the home of the well-known Center for Catalytic Science and Technology. Other traditional research strengths include thermodynamics, complex fluids, polymers, and biological engineering. As the discipline of chemical engineering evolves to meet new technological and societal challenges, department faculty and students increasingly apply experimental and computational tools to solve problems in energy, the environment, metabolic and biomolecular engineering, electronic materials, and nanotechnology.

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