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Chemical and Environmental Engineering: Undergraduate Programs


The department of chemical and environmental engineering offers a B.S. degree in chemical engineering (CIP Code is 14.0701).  There are three tracks, discussed later, that students can earn with emphases in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering, and pre-medical. 

The freshmen year is used as a general introduction to prerequisite content like chemistry, physics, calculus, while also including the humanities and English.  Sophomores are engaged in physics, calculus, organic chemistry, and begin the core chemical engineering classes.  The philosophy in the core chemical engineering courses in the sophomore to senior years  is to stress the broad application of the unit operations and core concepts instead of selecting only one industry or application to focus on.  Faculty members stress this same broad approach through advising interactions and this is reflected in our placement data.  Electives support the breadth by giving students choices in what they might be narrowing in on for careers. Students can choose to minor in a variety of other topics depending on their career interests and it is not unusual for a BS graduate to go to medical school, law school, or other non-traditional programs after graduation. 

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

Expected Student Learning Outcomes:

The ABET guidelines for chemical engineering undergraduate programs state that, "The curriculum must provide a thorough grounding in the basic sciences including chemistry, physics, and/or biology, with some content at an advanced level, as appropriate to the objectives of the program. The curriculum must include the engineering application of these basic sciences to the design, analysis, and control of chemical, physical, and/or biological processes, including the hazards associated with these processes."

The broad goals stated above are supported by the a-k criteria that are widely used in chemical engineering departments to ensure that the above broad skills are taught and evaluated by programs.  The a-k criteria, supported by one addition of safety are listed here, where students must have the ability to:

a) apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering

b) design and conduct experiments, analyze, and interpret data

c) design a system, component or process to meet a need

d) function on multi-disciplinary teams

e) identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems

f) understand professional and ethical responsibilities

g) communicate effectively

h) be broadly educated to understand impact for a global society

i) recognize the need for, and have an ability to engage in, life-long learning

j) demonstrate awareness of contemporary social issues

k) use modern engineering tools

In addition to the above, ABET added in 2013 the requirement that students must be able to assess, understand, and plan for the presence of hazards in chemical processes and this is treated as one of the a-k criteria by the undergraduate program.

Assessment Activities: 

Assessment activities use input from faculty, alumni, graduating seniors, and other constituencies, as shown in the figure below, to continually improve our undergraduate program.  As direct measures, the faculty members who teach the core classes evaluate student success on representative assignments for homework or exams for each of the a-k criteria and provide a summary where they document the number of students who engaged with the activity, what the activity was, and the ability of students to demonstrate proficiency at the skill.  For indirect measures staff pull student records and compile those for faculty review. The data is the foundation on which the other data from other constituencies are used to supplement the overall program assessment.  The next section details the faculty assessments that have been performed in the last 2 years since our successful ABET accreditation was received.

Process for Establishing and Reviewing the Chemical Engineering Undergradaute Program Educational Objectives and Outcomes. (*formal approval required).


The diagram above shows how the different program constituencies feed information back to the undergraduate curriculum committee (UCC) and how the faculty and staff use the information and committee recommendations to make changes that are then commented on by the industrial advisory board.

The faculty review the course content every six years as part of ABET when photocopies are made of all assignments, student notes, exams, and other supplementary materials.  Six copies of materials are obtained with two sets from A grade students, two from B students, and two from C students.  These materials are then examined by the department UCC and then shared with the ABET evaluator to demonstrate we are meeting our outcomes.  At this time, the UA and College of Engineering (COE) mission statements are also reviewed and the department’s outcomes and mission statement are realigned, as needed.  It is also the point on the timeline that UCC reviews the peer institutions for their program outcomes and any additional details about what they are doing with their undergraduate chemical engineering programs.

Annually, data is collected on student placement, senior exit interviews are conducted, and fellowship/award data is compiled. This information provides indirect measures of students meeting the outcomes.  The data inform the committee on emerging trends or reinforce that current student outcomes are appropriate so that necessary course changes can be made.  The results are described later.

In Summer of 2016, the core Chemical Engineering faculty held a retreat to systematically assess threads of content that cross the curriculum and to identify any gaps of course content.  The faculty collectively decided to collect data continuously and to distribute the data collection across all core faculty.  The following schedule was developed for the next 6 year time frame:

2016-2017: Program specific (safety), Criteria A and F

The link here lists who is going to assess the above three criteria int eh 2016-2017 cycle:

2017-2018:Criteria B, C, and K, and repeat one from prior year

2018-2019: Criteria: H, I, and  J, and repeat one from prior year

2019-2020 Criteria D, G, and E, and repeat one from prior year

2020-2021: Program specific (safety), Criteria A and F, and repeat one from prior year

2021-2022: Criteria B, C, and K, and repeat one from prior year

Where "repeat one from prior year" is listed, the faculty will collectively determine from that year's analysis which criteria is weakest for demonstrating student competence and will re-evaluate the following year.

Assessment Findings: 

Assessment Processes and Frequency

The following assessment processes are used to gather data upon which the evaluation of each student outcome is based:

Senior Exit Interviews – Seniors complete and submit an exit interview assessment and also attend small group meetings with the Department Chair to provide feedback on the program every spring prior to graduation.

Student Placement, Research, and Internships – We collect data on student placement upon graduation, and student research and internship experiences. This data shows students going into all the jobs that could be described by our PEOs.

Alumni Surveys – Alumni from the previous graduating class and two years prior are notified by email and asked to fill out an online questionnaire to provide program feedback. The survey is conducted annually during the fall and is done electronically through email and a survey instrument online.

Industrial Advisory Committee – Meets nearly annually to discuss all aspects of the program related to the health of the department and provides feedback and suggestions. This includes the undergraduate program curriculum, graduate program curriculum, staffing, and how the educational experience prepares students for a variety of career options.

Senior Design Presentations - Industrial mentors attend the final senior design presentations and informally provide feedback regarding the program to the faculty member that teaches the course.

Expected Level of Attainment

Students are expected to attain a C level (70%) for each student outcome, although most CHEE students exceed that expectation.

Summary and Analysis of Student Outcomes

This section contains data on how we validate that our educational outcomes are met and how student outcomes are tracked. The first section addresses how distributed faculty across the core curriculum identify students are meeting the a-k criteria.

We show that each a-k criteria is evaluated in multiple classes across the curriculum with multiple faculty handling each criteria to ensure no bias dominates the data by having only a few faculty do the evaluation. We also show that there are a variety of different measures spanning across student work where the criteria are evaluated, from homework, to exam grades, pre-class quizzes, laboratory reports, data analyses and others. .

Results of the a-k criteria.

Results of the 2015-2016 assessment are in the tables in the link below:

The ability of students to assess safety and to analyze hazards was evaluated from Fall 2015 through Spring 2016 and the results are summarized in the table  in the link below:



Change in Response to Findings: 

Using the feedback from faculty, alumni, graduating seniors and the industrial advisory board, the following changes were made to the undergraduate program, and were documented in our most recent ABET report where we improved instructional methods, or modified the curriculum:

  • In 2008-09: ChEE 316 – thermodynamics was removed from the curriculum because it was redundant with Chem 480a and student received enough thermodyanmics, at that time, from the chemistry course.
  • In 2009-10: ChEE 201L was added in the sophomore year as Programming in VBA in Excel to replace the ChEE 202 course which had been removed prior to that.  This new course took half of the numerical methods from ChEE 202 and engaged students with those topics in the context of ChEE 201, Material and Energy Balances.  ChEE 202 became 4 units from 3 units this same year and incorporated the other half of the prior numerical methods course.  This shift was made because the senior exit surveys indicated that numerical methods taught out of context were not relevant or interesting.
  • In 2009-10: ChEE 450 was shifted from being a biochemistry course to being ChEE 477R, a biotechnology requirement that was more engineering than science.  This shift was made to differentiate the course from BIOC 462a offered by chemistry and to place the material in context.
  • In 2010-11: ChEE 304, the prior 3 units Unit Operations course in Fall semester of senior year became ChEE 301a, 301b, and 401a, spread among the junior and senior years.  This allowed students to perform experiments either in the semester after learning theory or in the semester as they learned it.  This immediacy made the hands-on learning more useful to the students and enhanced retention of the theoretical portions of the curriculum.

Based on recent feedback from alumni, we plan on no longer requiring ECE 175 (Programming in C), but will now require freshmen coming in next year to take two one unit AME Matlab courses instead.  We will use the remaining extra unit to offer another laboratory that is affiliated with ChEE 413 (Control Theory).  Students had complained of the difficulty in scheduling that un-united portion of the course.

Based on recent assessment findings, information literacy needs to be strengthened in the sophomore core courses. We also need to find out why 30% students are not passing certain assignments in CHEE203.

Other important changes that have also happened in the last seven years are listed below:

  • We now offer an accelerated MS degree in both chemical and environmental engineering
  • We have begun offering our degree to Intel employees through Outreach
  • We have developed fully articulated 2+2 programs with Shanghai Jiaotong University and Fudan University in China where students complete 2 years of environmental engineering there and then take our entire core classes in two years at UA before receiving BS degrees in environmental engineering from their home institution and chemical engineering from UA.
PDF icon a-k criteria.pdf98.92 KB
PDF icon Process Safety.pdf66.13 KB
Updated date: Mon, 09/05/2016 - 13:19