Notable Historical Chemical Engineering Events
The Regents approve Dean Charles E. Greene's request for the first course of study at the University of Michigan leading to a bachelor of science in Chemical Engineering. The coursework, second only in the nation, is directed by Professor Edward DeMille Campbell, with cooperation from the Chemistry Department.
The Michigan Gas Association establishes a fellowship in chemical engineering that becomes the longest running fellowship of its kind. With this fellowship, Alfred H. White was to make major contributions to the manufactured gas industry.
The old Chemistry Building filled to capacity, chemical engineering work continues in what would later become the Economics Building. The space provided a laboratory for gas analysis and photometry, a balance room for quantitative analysis, and areas for research work and metallography.
Five students become the first class to graduate with degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Requirements for graduation at that time were 130 hours of credit and a thesis.
The importance of the emerging program is recognized with Alfred H. White's promotion to Junior Professor of Chemical Engineering, and by the separate listing of chemical engineering courses, including metallurgy, in the College of Engineering Announcement.
A burgeoning department now graduates an average of twenty students a year. The department is allotted ample space in the newly constructed Chemistry Building. Staff now consists of Professors Campbell and A.H. White, and Instructor Karl Wilhelm Zimmerschied, who would further develop the course in metallography and extend the coursework in extractive metallurgy.
The Mentor Program of faculty counseling and leadership is established by Dean Cooley. 1920 By 1920-21, more than one hundred U-M sophomores choose chemical engineering as their field of specialization.
Alfred H. White
The first student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers is established on the Michigan campus.
G.G. Brown organizes the first U-M graduate course in the field of thermodynamics.
Chemical Engineering moves to the newly constructed East Engineering Building, where new facilities enhance the rapidly emerging Ph.D.program.
The field of Chemical Engineering is recognized nationally as a branch of engineering. The University of Michigan is one of 14 accredited curriculums listed by the AIChE. Also in this year, The American Society for Metals establishes the Edward DeMille Campbell lecture, to honor the memory of this nationally recognized pioneer in theoretical metallurgy.
A.E. White and C. Upthegrove contribute to a symposium on metals and alloys at elevated temperatures, sponsored by the A.S.T.M. and the A.S.M.E.
While some work had been done previously, this marked the real beginning of a research program under A.E. White's direction that would bring the University of Michigan recognition throughout the world. This program, through the Engineering Research Institute, would also establish a laboratory for the study of metals at elevated temperatures, which by 1954 was one of the largest and best of its kind.
Professors Badger and McCabe publish Elements of Chemical Engineering, which soon becomes the most widely used text in the field.
U-M's Chemical Engineering Department is ranked by the American Council on Education as one of the top three "most distinguished" programs in the nation. Criteria included the adequacy of staff and equipment to prepare candidates for the doctorate.
The College creates two separate programs in chemical engineering and metallurgy. The department name is changed to Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering.
By 1935, 20 percent of all graduate students in the United States working toward the master's degree in chemical engineering, and 13 percent of those studying for the doctorate, are enrolled at the University of Michigan.
The Department celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Over two hundred chemical and metallurgical engineering alumni from across the nation attend the gala celebration.
In its 50 years, the department had enrolled a total of 3,876 undergraduate students and granted 2,151 bachelor's degrees; in the Graduate School, 940 higher degrees had been granted.
Graduate student enrollment reaches a peak of 235 students.
Donald L. Katz
The landmark text, Unit Operations, a collaborative U-M work prepared under the leadership of Professor G.G. Brown, is published. The book is promptly adopted by 115 institutions, including almost all the departments of chemical engineering in the United States.
In the twenty-year period from 1932 to 1952, 137 doctoral degrees are granted in chemical or metallurgical engineering.
At the U-M campus, Professor Katz leads the first national conference on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
By this year, chemical and metallurgical engineering staff had authored seventeen books and more than seven hundred publications.
The G.G. Brown Building opens, offering new, large-scale laboratory facilities.
A project on the use of computers in engineering education, funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation -- the largest project in U-M's chemical engineering history.
After a liaison of 36 years, the combined Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Department separates into two: Chemical Engineering, and Materials & Metallurgical Engineering.
By this date, the Department of Chemical Engineering has 17 full-time faculty members (including joint appointments), and an enrollment of 170 undergraduates and 55 graduate students. The regular chemical engineering curriculum offers areas of specialization that include biochemical, polymer, petroleum, electrochemical, materials, environmental, control, and computers and systems engineering.
Also at this time, the construction of a Water Resources building begins, providing additional facilities for microbiological and other biologically oriented laboratories.
A growing Department of Chemical Engineering numbers twenty-three full-time faculty members, and Emeritus Professor Donald Katz.Research laboratories supporting a broad range of graduate studies now include:
- Applied Polymer (J.H. Hand)
- Biochemical Engineering (L.L. Kempe and H. Wang)
- Bioengineering (J.S. Schultz)
- Catalysis and Spectroscopy (J. Schwank)
- Ecosystem Simulation (R.H. Kadlec)
- Electrochemical (F.M. Donahue)
- Heat Transfer (E.H. Young)
- Laser Light Scattering (E. Gulari)
- Oil Shale Research (G.B. Williams)
- Petroleum Research (M.R. Tek)
- Sonochemical Engineering (H.S. Fogler)
- Thermal Properties of Fluids (J.E. Powers)
Aerial View of North Campus in late 1990's
The department moves to the newly constructed H.H. Dow Building on North Campus, built through a $5.5 million combined donation from the Dow Foundation and the Towsley Foundation -- one of the largest gifts in the history of the University of Michigan.
1983Donald L. Katz receives the National Medal of Science from President Reagan.
The department establishes its first graduate scholarship that is supported by annual donations from alumni/alumnae.
1993The department helps to establish a graduate program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.
2000Under the direction of Henry Wang, the department establishes a pharmaceutical engineering program.
A Century of Chemical Engineering at Michigan is now available for purchase!
Our 662-page hard-cover history book with its 560 photographs, A Century of Chemical Engineering at the University of Michigan, was published in March 2003. If you don't already have a copy of book, it can be yours for just $25.
Click on the above link to find out how you can order a copy.