Chemical Engineering

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Program Description

Common Work Term Tasks

Computer Process Control Option

Biomedical Option

Work Term Sequences


Program Description

Chemical engineers design the complex plants needed to convert a laboratory or pilot-scale experiment into an industrial operation capable of producing tons of material daily. Chemical engineers supervise the construction of these plants, and are also involved in running and maintaining them. These activities call for a thorough understanding of chemistry, physics, mathematics and many other skills.

The chemical engineer must understand the physics and mathematics behind the problems of heat and mass flow when large quantities of reacting material must be heated or cooled, and moved from one section of the plant to another. The chemical engineer must understand the properties of the materials available to build the plant; how they tolerate high pressures and temperatures; and how they resist corrosion and wear. In the design and operation of biotechnology or environmental protection processes, the chemical engineer also needs to understand basic biological principles.

Students study the fundamentals of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, then learn engineering science and design. Selecting appropriate electives allows students to specialize in oil sands engineering, nanoscale engineering, mineral processing and extractive metallurgy, and polymer materials.

Graduates are equipped to embark on careers in the chemical, petrochemical, food processing, forest products, pharmaceutical, and semiconductors industries, or work for a government agency.


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Common Work Term Tasks

On their work terms, chemical engineering co-op students can contribute to / perform the following:

  • Emission studies
  • Performance studies
  • Corrosion studies
  • Quality control
  • Turnarounds
  • Process control
  • Reservoir evaluations
  • Economic analyses
  • Process design
  • Computer simulation
  • Equipment sizing/scale-up
  • Process analysis/optimization
  • Facility operation and maintenance inspections
  • Real-time computer applications

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Computer Process Control Option

With increased use of distributed digital computer control systems in the process industries and microprocessor-based analyzers and instruments, a need exists for process engineers with a background in areas that have traditionally been in the domain of the electrical engineer and computing scientist. This program, which retains all the core chemical engineering courses, provides the necessary background for engineering positions concerned with applying computers to the control of process systems.

In addition to the tasks listed under Chemical Engineering above, computer process control co-op students can contribute to / perform the following tasks:

  • Control benefits analyses
  • Process modeling and simulation
  • Distributed control systems configuration
  • Performance monitoring calculations
  • Implementation and commissioning control strategies
  • Efficiency testing
  • Expert system application development
  • Advanced data analysis
  • Product quality analysis/improvement

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Biomedical Option

The application of engineering principles to biomedical sciences has been gaining significant momentum since the 1980s. Exploring a biomedical problem from an engineering perspective provides unique solutions to biomedical problems. Utilizing established chemical engineering principles, such as thermodynamics, mass transfer and reactor design, enables significant advances in human health and facilitates establishment of an industrial activity based on bioengineering principles. The Biomedical Option retains all of the core courses of the Chemical Engineering program. It then adds courses specific to the biomedical sciences to provide students with the necessary background for employment in the biomedical field.

In addition to the tasks listed under Chemical Engineering above, co-op students specializing in the biomedical option can contribute to / perform the following tasks:

  • Develop and manufacture biomedical devices, biosensors and biomaterials

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Work Term Sequences

There are two different work term sequences for students studying chemical engineering in the co-op program.

Students: Please refer to the University of Alberta Course Calendar for program sequence details. 

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Click to view Chemical Engineering Work Term Sequences

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Last update: September 14, 2017