Where Is Chemical Engineering Heading in the Future?

As the demand for finite resources increases and the global population rapidly expands, chemical engineering will be at the forefront of solving the world’s biggest challenges. ChemEs play key roles in such areas as healthcare, energy development, waste management, food processing, and national security.

Chemical engineering draws on many different fields — not only chemical sciences, but also mathematics, physics, materials science, biology, and data science. ChemEs apply molecular sciences to create life’s essentials.

In 1988, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine laid out an important vision for the field in the report titled “Frontiers in Chemical Engineering: Research Needs and Opportunities,” also known as the Amundson Report. The report outlined a roadmap for turning promising research opportunities into reality, while guiding university educational efforts to embrace new frontiers.

Over the past three decades, chemical engineering has seen tremendous change and advancement. These changes have and will continue to affect how we might view research priorities, education, and the practice of chemical engineering.

Defining our future

A new study led by the National Academies, “Chemical Engineering in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities,” will address the changing needs of industry in the 21st century; develop ways to more effectively engage with and learn from related fields; discuss approaches for anticipating potential consequences (unintended as well as intended) that affect society and the environment; develop ways to strengthen diversity within the chemical engineering community; point the way to a modern educational curriculum; and account for the international sweep of the profession.

Contribute to the study at the Annual Meeting

Attendees of the AIChE Annual Meeting will have a unique opportunity to contribute to this cutting-edge study. A town hall will be held in Florida Ballroom C at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on Nov. 13th, from 8:00–10:30 am, to gather input for the study.

During this town hall, attendees will learn about the Academies study process, with a specific focus on ways that members of the chemical engineering community can get involved. Attendees will hear from the chair of the study, Eric W. Kaler (President Emeritus, Univ. of Minnesota), and Senior Program Officer, Maggie L. Walser (Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine).

This interactive session will be the first among many opportunities for AIChE members to provide input to the study. The session will also feature a coffee break.

2019 AIChE Annual Meeting

Make your voice heard at the Town Hall on Nov. 13th at the AIChE Annual Meeting.