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Focus Areas

Focus areas are designed as guidance for students who wish to deepen their knowledge in a specific subject. Students will be asked to identify any completed focus areas during the graduation survey - this survey allows us to plan for graduation and recognize student curricular accomplishments. 

Students should plan to take one (1) exploratory course and 6+ credits of relevant engineering electives from the list.  Students may also want to review the related Areas of Knowledge, capstone, research and other opportunities on the careers page. While these are helpful for deepening your experience in this area, they do not count toward the 9 credits required. 

Students hoping to receive recognition for a focus area can talk with their faculty mentors and academic advisers about educational opportunities in and out of the classroom. If you want to learn more about undergraduate research and how to get involved, or assistance in planning to complete a meaningful focus area, contact or visit drop-in undergraduate advising times

Energy Conversion

ChemE’s are at the forefront of developing technologies for energy systems and sustainable energy sources. ChemE innovates in electrochemical energy conversion, materials for photonic and electronic energy conversion, and large scale energy storage and utilization. Courses in this area provide foundational knowledge in electrochemical systems and drive improvements in photovoltaics, batteries, fuel cells, and electronic polymers

Exploratory Course

  • CHEM E 341: Energy & Environment (3)

Foundational & Applied Knowledge Courses

  • CHEM E 440:  Energy Materials, Devices, and Systems (3)
  • CHEM E 442: Renewable Energy (4)
  • CHEM E 445: Fuel Cell Engineering (3)
  • CHEM E 461: Electrochemical Engineering (3)
  • CHEM E 484: Electronic and Optoelectronic Polymers (3)
  • ME 430: Advanced Energy Conversion Systems (4)
  • MSE 560: Organic Electronic and Photonic Materials/Polymers (3)

Environmental & Bioresource Engineering

There are many opportunities for chemical engineers to apply their skill sets to Environment & Bioresource applications. ChemEs can develop remediation processes that reduce, remove, or convert waste to value-added products. ChemEs are contributors to technology development in advanced water treatment and filtration methods; catalytic processes for upcycling plastic waste; and technologies to enable materials circularity.

Exploratory Courses

  • CEE 357: Environmental Engineering (5)
  • CEE 352: Introduction to Microbial Principles in Environmental Engineering (4)
  • CEE 354: Introduction to Chemical Principles in Environmental Engineering (5)

Foundational & Applied Knowledge Courses

  • CHEM E: 467 Biochemical engineering 
  • CEE 349: Case Studies in Environmental Engineering (3)
  • CEE 356: Quantitative and Conceptual Tools for Sustainability (4)
  • CEE 480: Air-quality Modeling (3)
  • CEE 490: Air Pollution Control (4)
  • CEE 495: Sustainability and Design for Environment (3)

Advanced Materials Interfacial Engineering

ChemE’s design a broad range of advanced materials for applications in medicine, energy, air & space, computing, textiles, and many more. ChemE’s develop methods to guide assembly, engineer defects and manipulate order over broad length scales to optimize material properties. Courses in this area provide foundational knowledge and application examples in biomaterials, colloids, polymers, and surface chemistry.

Exploratory Course

  • MSE 170: Fundamentals of Materials Science (4)

Foundational & Applied Knowledge Courses

  • CHEM E 484: Electronic and Optoelectronic Polymers (3)
  • CHEM E 490: Engineering Materials for Biomedical Applications (3)
  • CHEME 535: Nanomaterials chemistry & engineering (3)
  • CHEM E 556: Colloidal Systems (3)
  • CHEM E 554: Nanoscale Science I (3)
  • MSE 471: Introduction to Polymer Science and Engineering (3)
  • MSE 475: Introduction to Composite Materials (3)
  • MSE 502: Sol-Gel Processing (3)
  • MSE 560: Organic Electronic and Photonic Materials/Polymers (3)

Example 3-course series: 

  • Semiconductor Manufacturing: NME 220, M E 410, CHEM E 458

Biological Systems

Chemical Engineering skills developed in foundation transport, thermo, and kinetic courses can be readily applied to biological and health applications. ChemE’s are drivers of technology innovation in design smart therapeutics, targeted drug delivery systems, and improved diagnostics. In systems and synthetic biology, ChemEs utilize skills to control metabolic, biomolecular, and protein engineering in living organisms, from yeast, bacteria, and fungi, to mammalian systems. 

Exploratory Course

  • CHEM E 355: Biological Frameworks for Engineers (3)

Foundational & Applied Knowledge Courses

  • CHEM E 434: Physiological transport for engineering nanomedicine
  • CHEM E 458: Surface Analysis (3)
  • CHEM E 467 Biochemical engineering 
  • CHEM E 490: Engineering Materials for Biomedical Applications (3)
  • CHEM E 491: Controlled Release Systems
  • CHEM E 493: Advanced Surface Analysis (3)
  • CHEM E 476: Introduction to Synthetic Biology (3)
  • CHEM E 477: Advanced Systems and Synthetic Biology (3)
  • CHEM E 478: Laboratory Methods in Synthetic Biology (4)
  • MSE 483: Nanomedicine

Example 3-course series: 

  • Nanomedicine: CHEME 491, CHEME 434, MSE 483
  • Synthetic biology: CHEME 476, CHEME 477, CHEME 478

Data Science & Computing

ChemE’s are integral to the data science transformation taking place in all sectors. ChemE’s use machine learning, computational molecular science, and high performance computing in all areas of technology: improve semiconductors and solar cells, characterize materials, reaction engineering, molecular design, disease diagnosis, and to discover novel renewable chemicals

Exploratory Course

  • STAT 180/CSE 180/INFO 180: Introduction to Data Science (4)
  • CSE 160: Data Programming (4)

Foundational & Applied Knowledge Courses

  • CHEM E 481: Process Optimization (3)
  • CSE 163: Intermediate Data Programming (4)
  • INFO 370: Core Methods in Data Science (5)
  • CSE 373: Data Structures and Algorithms (4)
  • CSE 410: Computer Systems (3)
  • CSE 412: Introduction to Data Visualization (4)
  • CSE 413: Programming Languages and their Implementation (3)
  • CSE 414: Introduction to Database Systems (4)
  • CSE 416: Introduction to Machine Learning (4)