Edward DeMille CampbellThe Regents approve Dean Charles E. Greene's request for the first course of study at U-M leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. The coursework, second only in the nation, is directed by Professor Edward DeMille Campbell, with cooperation from the Chemistry Department.


Alfred H. White

The Michigan Gas Association establishes a fellowship in chemical engineering that becomes the longest running fellowship of its kind. With this fellowship, Alfred H. White was to make major contributions to the manufactured gas industry.

With the old Chemistry Building filled to capacity, chemical engineering work continues in what would later become the Economics Building. The space provided a laboratory for gas analysis and photometry, a balance room for quantitative analysis and areas for research work and metallography.


Five students become the first class to graduate with degrees in Chemical Engineering from the U-M. Requirements for graduation at that time were 130 hours of credit and a thesis.


The importance of the emerging program is recognized with Alfred H. White's promotion to Junior Professor of Chemical Engineering and by the separate listing of chemical engineering courses, including metallurgy, in the College of Engineering Announcement.


Old Chemistry BuildingA burgeoning department now graduates an average of 20 students a year. The department is allotted ample space in the newly constructed Chemistry Building. Staff now consists of Professors Campbell and A.H. White, and Instructor Karl Wilhelm Zimmerschied, who would further develop the course in metallography and extend the coursework in extractive metallurgy.


The Mentor Program of faculty counseling and leadership is established by Dean Cooley.


Dorothy Hall BrophyIn 1918, Dorothy Hall Brophy became the first woman to receive a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering at the University of Michigan. She went on to complete a PhD in Chemistry at Michigan in 1920 and was elected to the Society of Sigma Xi.  Dr. Brophy was the first woman with a PhD to work at the Research Laboratory of the General Electric Company, where she was a research chemist from 1920 to 1932. She authored many papers on analytical methods of identification and separation of rare metals such as tungsten, vanadium, molybdenum, and thorium, and testified in patent defense cases for the company. She was a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She left GE to raise her children but years later taught chemistry at the University of Connecticut, Hartford, and in the Hartford public schools. When Dr. Brophy passed away in 1989, her family asked friends to send memorial gifts in her name to the College of Engineering at Michigan.


By 1920-21, more than one hundred U-M sophomores choose chemical engineering as their field of specialization.


1922 AIChE CharterThe first student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is established on the Michigan campus.


G.G. Brown organizes the first U-M graduate course in the field of thermodynamics.


East Engineering

Chemical Engineering moves to the newly constructed East Engineering Building, where new facilities enhance the rapidly emerging PhD program.


The field of chemical engineering is recognized nationally as a branch of engineering. The University of Michigan is one of 14 accredited curriculums listed by the AIChE. Also in this year, The American Society for Metals establishes the Edward DeMille Campbell lecture to honor the memory of the nationally recognized pioneer in theoretical metallurgy.


A.E. White and C. Upthegrove contribute to a symposium on metals and alloys at elevated temperatures, sponsored by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).

While some work had been done previously, this marked the real beginning of a research program under A.E. White's direction that would bring U-M recognition throughout the world. This program, through the Engineering Research Institute, would also establish a laboratory for the study of metals at elevated temperatures, which by 1954 was one of the largest and best of its kind.


Professors Badger and McCabe publish Elements of Chemical Engineering, which soon becomes the most widely used text in the field.


U-M's Department of Chemical Engineering is ranked by the American Council on Education as one of the top three "most distinguished" programs in the nation. Criteria included the adequacy of staff and equipment to prepare candidates for the doctorate.


The College creates two separate programs in chemical engineering and metallurgy. The department name is changed to Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering.

By 1935, 20 percent of all graduate students in the United States working toward a master's degree in chemical engineering and 13 percent of those studying for the doctorate are enrolled at the University of Michigan.


The Department celebrates its 50th Anniversary. Over 200 chemical and metallurgical engineering alumni from across the nation attend the gala celebration.

In its 50 years, the department had enrolled a total of 3,876 undergraduate students and granted 2,151 bachelor's degrees; in the Graduate School, 940 higher degrees had been granted.


Graduate student enrollment reaches a peak of 235 students.


G. G. Brown

The landmark text, Unit Operations, a collaborative U-M work prepared under the leadership of Professor G.G. Brown, is published. The book is promptly adopted by 115 institutions, including almost all the departments of chemical engineering in the United States.




In the 20-year period from 1932 to 1952, 137 doctoral degrees are granted in chemical or metallurgical engineering.


Donald L. Katz

At the U-M campus, Professor Katz leads the first national conference on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

By this year, chemical and metallurgical engineering staff had authored seventeen books and more than seven hundred publications.



North Campus in 1959

The G.G. Brown Building opens, offering new, large-scale laboratory facilities.


A project begins on the use of computers in engineering education, funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation — the largest project in U-M's chemical engineering history.


ChE & Metallurgical Faculty in 1968

Pictured is the Department of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Faculty in 1968.


Donald L. Katz and Lawrence Van Vlack with old signAfter a liaison of 36 years, the combined Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering Department separates into two: Chemical Engineering and Materials and Metallurgical Engineering. Donald Katz and Lawrence Van Vlack with the sign from their former combined department on the left.

By this date, the Department of Chemical Engineering has 17 full-time faculty members (including joint appointments), and an enrollment of 170 undergraduates and 55 graduate students. The regular chemical engineering curriculum offers areas of specialization that include biochemical, polymer, petroleum, electrochemical, materials, environmental, control and computers and systems engineering.

Also at this time, the construction of a Water Resources building begins, providing additional facilities for microbiological and other biologically oriented laboratories.


A growing Department of Chemical Engineering numbers 23 full-time faculty members, and Emeritus Professor Donald Katz.

Research laboratories supporting a broad range of graduate studies now include:

  • Applied Polymer (J.H. Hand)
  • Biochemical Engineering (L.L. Kempe and H. Wang)
  • Bioengineering (J.S. Schultz)
  • Catalysis and Spectroscopy (J. Schwank)
  • Ecosystem Simulation (R.H. Kadlec)
  • Electrochemical (F.M. Donahue)
  • Heat Transfer (E.H. Young)
  • Laser Light Scattering (E. Gulari)
  • Oil Shale Research (G.B. Williams)
  • Petroleum Research (M.R. Tek)
  • Sonochemical Engineering (H.S. Fogler)
  • Thermal Properties of Fluids (J.E. Powers)



The department moves to the newly constructed H.H. Dow Building on North Campus, built through a $5.5 million combined donation from the Dow Foundation and the Towsley Foundation -- one of the largest gifts in the history of the University of Michigan.

North Campus in 1990


Donald L. Katz and President Ronald ReaganDonald L. Katz receives the National Medal of Science from President Reagan.


The department establishes its first graduate scholarship that is supported by annual donations from alumni/alumnae.


The department helps to establish a graduate program at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand.


Our Centennial Celebration, held in May in conjunction with the Materials Science and Engineering Department, was an historic and extremely successful occasion, attended by some 250 alumni, faculty, and friends. The weekend included a symposium in the Chrysler Center, a carillon performance, and a banquet at Weber’s Inn in Ann Arbor.


Under the direction of Henry Wang, the department establishes a pharmaceutical engineering program

2003 - 2005

Ronald Larson NAE Ralph Yang NAERonald G. Larson is elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2003 “for elucidating the flow properties of complex fluids at the molecular and continuum levels through theory and experiment.”

Ralph T. Yang is elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2005 “for advancing the fundamental understanding of surface chemical-reaction mechanisms and for the design and invention of new catalysts.”


The Walter J. Weber, Jr. Distinguished Lecture in Environmental and Energy Sustainability moves to the department from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.


Scott Fogler

H. Scott Fogler becomes the president of the AIChE. He is the most recent in a long line of distinguished Michigan Chemical Engineering faculty and alumni to serve as president of the institute in the last 80 years. Others include Lawrence B. Evans (alumnus), John C. Chen (alumnus), Sidney F. Sapakie (alumnus), J. J. Martin (faculty), Stuart W. Churchill (faculty and alumnus), John J. McKetta Jr. (alumnus), Donald L. Katz (faculty and alumnus), George G. Brown (faculty), and Alfred H. White (faculty).  

Levi Thompson HETLLevi T. Thompson is appointed the director of the Hydrogen Energy Technology Laboratory (HETL)


The Graduate Teaching Fellowship program is established.


Major research areas include catalysis and reactions, biomolecular engineering, cellular engineering, computing and simulation, nanotechnology, materials, polymers and complex fluids, sustainable energy, and microfabricated systems


North Campus Research ComplexThe University of Michigan creates the Biointerfaces Institute (BI) and Chemical Engineering's Joerg Lahann is appointed its first director. The institute is housed at North Campus Research Center (NCRC), the former home of Pfizer in Ann Arbor.

In fall, Lahann and five other ChE faculty members associated with the institute move their offices and labs to new department space in NCRC.


The department holds its first Graduate Symposium. The symposium, organized entirely by our graduate students, brought together about 130 people, including faculty, alumni, current graduate students, and industrial representatives.


A total of ten faculty members have been appointed to endowed or collegiate professorships; most have been named in the last decade. Many of the professorships are named in honor of distinguished faculty and alumni including Donald L. Katz, G.G.  Brown, James R. Street, Richard E. Balzhiser, and Stuart W. Churchill. Susan M. Montgomery was one of three inaugural collegiate lecturers named at the University and she selects "G. Brymer Williams Collegiate Lecturer" as her new title.


Mark BarteauMark A. Barteau joins the faculty of the department as a professor and is also named the director of the University of Michigan Energy Institute. He was elected to the NAE in 2005 “for advancing the fundamental understanding of surface chemical-reaction mechanisms and for the design and invention of new catalysts.”


Ralph Yang NAIMark Burns NAIMark Burns and Ralph Yang were named fellows in the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Burns was honored for inventing, advancing and licensing inexpensive, life-saving, lab-on-a-chip microfluidic technology for diagnosing infectious diseases. Yang was honored for his advances in novel materials and processes for separations, and energy and environmental applications. He holds 33 US patents.


Enrollment in ChE 230 climbs to a new record of 211. Due to the recent large class sizes, the first five ChE courses in the curriculum are taught in the auditorium of the Chrysler Center.


Mark BarteauSharon GlotzerMark Barteau and Sharon Glotzer were elected fellows in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). They are among the 388 AAAS members to receive this honor, which recognizes distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Barteau was honored for groundbreaking contributions to metal oxides and transition metal catalysis, which led to the development of fundamental understanding and design of novel, improved catalysts.

Glotzer was honored for groundbreaking simulations of the self-assembly of nanoparticles into complex structures and theoretical contributions to patchy particles, colloidal crystals, quasicrystals and glass forming liquids.


Sharon Glotzer was inducted into the 2014 class of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Scientists are elected to membership in the NAS in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Glotzer conducts research in the areas of computational nanoscience and simulation of soft matter, self-assembly and materials design.



The Department of Chemical Engineering hosted a celebration in honor of Professor Scott Fogler in May. Scott’s colleagues, students, and 35 former students honored him with a 25/50/75 symposium and dinner, where they celebrated 25 years of Scott’s book as the dominant textbook in chemical reaction engineering, his 50 years at the University of Michigan, and his 75th birthday.

Sharon C. Glotzer was named the John Werner Cahn Distinguished University Professor of Engineering. Her work spans chemical engineering, materials science, soft condensed matter physics, physical chemistry, mathematics, computational science, and data science.  John W. Cahn was a mentor of Glotzer’s and his early work in thermodynamics inspired much of her early and most recent work. Cahn, who received a BS in chemistry from U-M in 1949, is a prominent materials scientist, with strong ties to chemical engineering.


Mark Burns was appointed the Anthony C. Lembke Department Chair of Chemical Engineering in September 2016. The endowment from Anthony C. (Tony) Lembke’s (BSE '80) 2013 gift will generate discretionary funds for the department chair to support the work of the department.  Specifically, Lembke directed this gift to Mark and future chairs so that they will have the money to bring in world-class faculty from anywhere in the world.

Mike Solomon was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He received this honor for his distinguished contributions to the field of colloid science, particularly for creating and understanding colloidal self-assemblies with new symmetries and new functions.

ChE history book

North Campus in 1959

Over 100 years of Chemical Engineering.

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University of Michigan Heritage

Edward DeMille Campbell

"Blinded by Science"
A story of one professor's fate and focus

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