In India, Engineers' Day is celebrated on 15 September every year. In the U.S., the field of chemical engineering got its start at MIT in 1888.
In this climate of international competition and academic excitement the young field of chemical engineering found the right ground to thrive in. In 1903 a specialized publication appeared. The Chemical Engineer was not exactly a scientific journal, but it included practical articles written by practicing industrial chemists and engineers, including William Walker. By 1905 this magazine had a circulation of more than 1,600, including about 570 chemical engineers.
In the United States, MIT is considered the first university to have offered, in 1888, a four-year curriculum in chemical engineering, in 1888. Other universities soon followed MIT’s example: the University of Pennsylvania (1894), Tulane University (1894), the University of Michigan (1898), and Tufts University (1898). Each of these four-year programs in chemical engineering were housed within the chemistry department.
Over the course of the 20th century, chemical engineering gradually developed a specific disciplinary identity, focusing first on unit operations, then adding applied thermodynamics, chemical-reaction engineering, applied mathematics, and computer science. By the mid-1970s, researchers realized that chemical engineers could contribute significantly to areas outside of the core of classical chemical engineering, including interdisciplinary areas such as the biochemical and biomedical sciences and materials science. Today chemical engineers are leading the way in sustainability, nanotechnology, high-performance materials, and electronics manufacturing.
Visit Chemical Heritage Magazine to learn more about the origins of chemical engineering in the U.S.
Excerpted with permission, Chemical Heritage Foundation