UB - University at Buffalo, The State University of New York Chemical and Biological Engineering

Majoring in chemical engineering

Chemical engineering concerns the design, scale-up, and operation of chemical processes, and the understanding and design of technologically useful materials.

Chemical engineers are responsible for the economical, safe, and environmentally benign production of useful quantities of vital materials-from grams of a new drug to tons of a commodity chemical.

Chemical engineers use these same skills to understand and manipulate natural processes, such as in biological systems.

See What do chemical engineers do? for more information about chemical engineering and about the profession generally.

BS in chemical engineering

The undergraduate major in chemical engineering at UB is broadly based to prepare graduates for positions in engineering development, design, economic evaluation, sales, construction, production, and management. A number of our undergraduates go on for graduate study and careers in research, and some pursue degrees in medicine, business, or law.


Students intending to major in chemical engineering should have strong backgrounds in chemistry and mathematics.

Freshman and sophomore years

Freshman year students take a general curriculum in engineering, but with a focus on chemistry. The sophomore year begins the introduction to chemical engineering, and builds a base in mathematics, chemistry, and thermodynamics for the core courses to follow.

Junior and senior years

The junior and senior years extend the engineering base and build upon it with courses in theoretical and applied chemical engineerings. Many of the courses are accompanied by laboratory sessions. Communication skills, both oral and written, are stressed through laboratory reports and class projects. Some senior students are exposed to research through an undergraduate research and creativity activity course; others obtain industrial experience through local internships or through the chemical engineering co-op program. The student's education in chemical and biological engineering culminates with two capstone design courses.

What about "biological"

In 2004 the department changed its name by adding "Biological" to reflect the important and growing contributions that chemical engineers make in the field of biological applications. The profession is evolving to meet the increasing need for engineers who speak the languages of both chemistry and biology, and who possess strong quantitative skills. Although the degree offered by the department is still in chemical engineering, several courses are offered to permit study of biological engineering, and there is even more opportunity to focus in biology through selection of electives following a Biological Engineering track.

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Faces of CBE
  • Shawn Barrett, BS 1994, University of Waterloo
  • Associate Director, BioProduction R&D Thermo Fisher Scientific

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