(98a) Teaching Chemical Engineering In Europe | AIChE

(98a) Teaching Chemical Engineering In Europe


Pitt, M. J. - Presenter, University of Sheffield

A remarkable transformation of European higher education has taken place in what is known as the Bologna process.  In this, qualifications throughout Europe have been harmonized along the lines of Bachelor, Master and Doctoral qualifications with the idea that (say) a Bachelor degree in one country in chemical engineering should be accepted in another country both for employment and for progression to Master and Doctor.

The Working Party on Education (WPE) of the European Federation of Chemical Engineering (EFCE) has contributed by work in three parts.  Firstly, a study was made of (pre-Bologna) degree (or equivalent) programs in chemical engineering and closely related fields in various European countries and the USA.  We also had to try and understand each other’s educational systems, including methods of entry to university which varied from highly competitive to open to all.

The second phase involved trying to decide what was and was not chemical engineering, and hence what should be in the education of a chemical engineer, irrespective of the title of the qualification.  Should courses focussing on local pharmaceutical or paper industries be excluded if they did not feature design of distillation columns?  How much engineering would a chemistry degree require to be called chemical engineering?

As a result the WPE produced an outline syllabus including what it felt to be a minimum set of topics to be included in a first degree, but deliberately allowing room for other topics according to local conditions and possible specializations, plus incoming subjects.  This had the flaws of a committee compromise, but was nevertheless widely used, and was particularly helpful for those setting up new chemical engineering courses.

In the third phase, the WPE revised these recommendations and extended them up to Doctoral level in a way which matched both the Bologna agreement and developments in engineering education.  This particularly focussed on learning outcomes rather than simple course content.  We believe that we were the first subject to do this in any detail and the recommendations have been very well received.  The process and the content will be presented.