Chemical Engineering

Who we are

We work hard to shape scientific minds in a familial, friendly, tight-knit atmosphere. You’ll be made to feel welcome from the very first day, forming strong bonds with your professors and fellow students that will benefit you professionally and personally.

What we do

In focused research groups, students and faculty within WPI’s Chemical Engineering Department go beyond the classroom to solve real-world problems, continuing to make discoveries in areas like environmental protection, renewable energy, and life sciences, through research and development of new technologies, processes, and materials.

Manning Chair Jennifer Wilcox gives TED Talk on CO2 capture

Jennifer Wilcox is the James H. Manning Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In her TED talk, she introduces her research on carbon scrubbing at scale using chemical reactions that mimic plant carbon capture. 

ChE Graduate Students Launch AMProtection

WPI’s superstar researchers Lindsay Lozeau and Todd Alexander never pictured themselves as cofounders of a company that is poised to change the way the medical community considers stopping infections. Yet here they are.

Their company, AMProtection, has gone through a few changes and pivots to arrive at this point—starting down the road to bring to market a urinary catheter with antimicrobial peptides that will reduce infections without increasing antibiotic resistance. Eventually such a device could save patients the painful and sometimes lethal infections that can happen from catheters.

Faculty Highlights and Research

Mike Timko putting "Red Mud" to work, converting food waste into biofuels

In a paper published in the open-access journal Energies, Michael Timko, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, discusses work by a team of colleagues to greatly improve the yield of oil from the waste food conversion process while also improving efficiencies. The work featured a tem of WPI graduate students and an MQP group. Funded by the Department of Energy. Read the story in the Worcester Telegram.

WPI Biofuel Research - April 6th, 2018

Professor Deskins receives two NSF research awards

Professor Deskins, in collaboration with WPI Mechanical Engineering Professor Pratap Rao, received NSF funding for  “Engineering Charge Transport through Directed Orientation of Transition Metal Dichalcogenide Catalysts." This work will increase the efficiency of catalysts for the production and utilization of carbon-free or carbon-neutral fuels via electrical-to-chemical and solar-to-chemical processes.

Professor Deskins, in collaboration with Professor Xiaowei Teng at the University of New Hampshire, also received funding for “Hydrogen Production via Highly Efficient Electrochemical Reforming of Ethanol in a Proton Exchange Membrane Cell.” This work will lead to efficient, cleaner methods to produce hydrogen, a valuable fuel and chemical feedstock.

Introducing Jennifer Wilcox, Manning Chair

The WPI Department of Chemical Engineering is pleased to announce that Jennifer Wilcox will join the faculty as the endowed Manning Chair in September 2018! Professor Wilcox's research program broadly focuses on mitigating and adapting to climate change. This includes the capture and sequestration of trace metals (mercury, arsenic, and selenium) and carbon dioxide. She takes a mutliscale approach, partnering with government labs and industry to investigate phenomena from atomistic to plant scale. She has earned many awards for her work, including the NSF CAREER award and the 2017 Arthur C. Stern award for Distinguished Paper.

Faculty Snapshot: Stephen J. Kmiotek

WPI Chemical Engineering Professor of Practice Stephen Kmiotek was recently featured in the WPI Journal.  Click here to learn about hard hats, riding camels, and his minions!

Professor Datta demonstrates new membrane technology for hydrogen fuel cells

Separation membranes hold the key to making hydrogen fuel cheaper; in a pioneering study, the researchers show that membranes made with liquid metals appear to be more efficient at separating hydrogen than conventional palladium membranes while also being less expensive and more durable. Read more here!

Student Learning, Culture, and Achievements

WPI Che Students Attend NSBE 2018!

The WPI Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers attended NSBE44 in Pittsburgh, PA in March. Several outstanding WPI ChE students attended. WPI NSBE members got a lot out of the conference, a handful of them securing interviews and learning a lot from the variety of workshops!

Project Presentation Day 2018

Project Presentation Day - one of the most unique features of the student experience at WPI. Chemical Engineering students presented their original and impactful MQP work to students, faculty, and alumni. Great job to everyone!

Fostering the entrepreneurial mindset in STEM

Chemical Engineering Professor David DiBiasio and colleagues at WPI with sponsorship from the KERN Foundation are leading efforts to introduce entrepreneurial training into WPI’s STEM curricula and project based learning.

The Entrepreneurially Minded Culture at WPI

WPI ChE Alum Michelle Gass to be CEO of Kohl's!

WPI Chemical Engineering graduate Michelle Gass will helm the retail company starting May 2018!

Read more here!

WPI ChE alum Bihter Padak named AIChE's 35 under 35!

Congratulations to WPI alumnus Dr. Bihter Padak, who was recognized in the August edition of Chemical Engineering Progress as one of the American Institute of Chemical Engineering's 35 Under 35.   Dr. Padak is now an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of South Carolina.

Read more here!

WPI ChE students win poster awards at the AIChE National Meeting!

WPI students made an award-winning appearance at the 2017 American Institute of Chemical Engineers National Meeting in Minneapolis, MN.

Graduate student Behnam Partopour won the Area 20 Poster Session with his poster titled "An integrated workflow for numerical generation and meshing of packed beds of non-spherical particles: applications in chemical reaction engineering"

Undergraduate student Celeste Marsan won third place in the Area 15 Poster Session with her poster titled "Metabolic engineering of S. cerevisiae for the production of propane"

Congratulations to Behnam and Celeste!

Honoring Professor Yi Hua (Ed) Ma

 Former students collaborate to create a scholarship honoring a beloved faculty member.

Degrees & Certificates

Area of Study Bachelor Minor Certificate Master PhD

In the News

President Laurie Leshin was interviewed for a segment on the importance of play and role models for getting girls interested in STEM at a young age and keeping them engaged. 

WFXT-Fox 25 Boston

The Associated Press interviewed Marco Kaltofen, associate research engineer, for this article. "The problem with organic peroxides is they react with themselves. That's why we refrigerate them," Kaltofen told The AP, referring to organic peroxides, which caught fire at the plant amid the devastating flooding.

Associated Press