Chemical Engineering & Materials Science


Chemical Engineers design, control, and optimize large-scale chemical, physiochemical and biochemical processes.  They are also involved in the development and design of new materials ranging from advanced composites used in automotive and space-related industries to materials used in the biomedical and electronics fields.

Chemical engineers are employed in ares as diverse as the chemical, pharmaceutical, energy, material and environmental industries.  Emerging fields in chemical engineering include biotechnology, the design of environmentally benign processes, and the synthesis of new materials (including bio- and nanomaterials).  Chemical engineers are uniquely qualified to provide solutions to many pressing problems in the areas of energy, environment, and materials science.

Curriculum and Emphases

While many students choose a primary degree in chemical engineering with no added specialization, we also offer the opportunity to deepen your education in six emphasis programs: Biochemical (CHEB), Petroleum (CHPE), Nanotechnology (CHEN), Polymers/Materials (CHPM), Environmental (CHEE), and Sustainable Energy.

Chemical Engineering

Students who choose a primary degree in chemical engineering get to take a little bit of everything over their four years. They get a foundation in chemical engineering principles to pursue many careers related the field.

Course Plan

Chemical Engineering (Biochemical)

The biochemical option is a great option for students considering going on to Medical, Dental, or Pharmacy Schools, and for students who wish to enter the growing biochemical industry.

Course Plan

Chemical Engineering (Petroleum)

The petroleum option is most appropriate for students interested in the exploration and production aspects of the energy industry.  There is currently a great demand but limited supply of petroleum engineers because there are only a small number of universities training petroleum engineers

Course Plan

Chemical Engineering (Nanotechnology)

The nanotechnology option is for students who are interested in learning the properties of materials on the nanometer scale, and will study specialized probes capable of visualizing matter on these length scales.  Nanotechnology involves the study of matter at length scales that are intermediate between the molecular and the bulk.

Course Plan

Chemical Engineering (Polymers & Materials)

Students interested in careers in polymers and materials would find this option most appropriate.  Whether you are interested in plastics, electronics materials, semiconductors, or other materials, this emphasis focuses on understanding material properties.

Course Plan

Chemical Engineering (Environmental)

The environmental option is best for students who are interested in a career in protecting the environment either through pollution control or in environmental remediation.

Course Plan

Chemical Engineering (Sustainable Energy)

The sustainable energy option provides students access to careers where a variety of energy sources are being developed, including biofuels, solar, geothermal, and clean hydrocarbons.

Course Plan

 Career Options

When you graduate with a degree in chemical engineering, here are just a few of the future career paths that might lay before you.

  • Design and optimize cost effective ways to produce energy, drugs, plastics, and chemicals
  • Develop new biological and therapeutic agents
  • Establish new methods for chemical processing
  • Find solutions for environmental problems
  • Streamline petroleum exploration and refining
  • Create new consumer products and manufacturing systems
  • Regulate environmental health and safety standards
  • Production, design, development, and research in all fields that involve chemical changes

 Featured Podcast Episodes

Viterbi Voices: The Podcast is your chance to hear stories about research, classes, student life, and more directly from our faculty, students, and other members of our engineering community.  Below are featured episodes highlighting Chemical Engineering as a discipline and the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering & Materials Science.


Amount of hands on learning taking place.

Watch the theory you learn come to life with hands on, lab based classes sprinkled throughout your four years.  Learn to design a distillation column in separations and then actually use one in chemical engineering lab.  Create nanoparticles, model and then demonstrate control systems, and design full scale chemical plants.

Research Highlights

Researchers in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science are at the forefront of investigations that will aid in emerging technologies.  Research areas include technologies that impact oil and gas performance and maximize the world’s fossil fuel supply, the latest polymers and composites, and ways to remediate contaminated soils.  In addition, researchers are creating new technologies for more efficient, environmentally sensitive future.

The Mork Family Department is well equipped for experimental research with modern instrumentation located in core laboratories across campus, including NMR spectrometers, electron microscopes, surface analysis instrumentation, and nanofabrication tools located in clean room space.

Research highlights within the department include: Nanobioparticle engineering, membrane separation, membrane reactors, molecular modeling and simulation, nano, bio, and photonic materials, immunoengineering for cancer therapy, modeling oil and gas reservoir performance, microfluidics for nanomaterial synthesis and bioanalysis, and much more!

Companies Hiring Chemical Engineers

  • Amgen
  • Baxter
  • Chevron
  • ConocoPhillips
  • Dow Chemical
  • DuPont
  • Environ
  • ExxonMobil
  • Halliburton
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Intel
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • And Many More!

Chemical Engineering Faculty Spotlight

Meet Dr. Armani, a faculty member in the Chemical Engineering Department.  She does research in developing micro and nanotechnologies for studying biological and chemical processes, like protein behavior.  She has won countless awards including being recognized as a recipient of TR35 as well as being featured as one of the Brilliant 10 by Popular Science. Check out her video and learn more about her!

#ViterbiClass: Chemical Engineering

Meet some students and learn what it’s like to study Chemical Engineering!

Vanessa Pangbourne

Chemical Engineering, '19

She is studying Chemical Engineering with an emphasis in nanotechnology and is working on campus in a Nanofabrication Lab. She has interned at Ausenco, a mining consulting company.

Shuntaro Nishi

Chemical Engineering, '19

He is a senior studying Chemical Engineering and has interned at Gilead Sciences over the past 3 years. Last summer he studied abroad with the Viterbi Overseas Program in Rome, Italy.

Don’t just take our word for it

Find out what current students have to say by heading over to

Check it out now!

Have questions? Ask a Viterbi Admission staff member!