How to Prepare for the ChE Undergraduate Enrollment Trend | AIChE

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How to Prepare for the ChE Undergraduate Enrollment Trend

On The Horizon

Enrollment of undergraduate chemical engineers follows a cyclical pattern. Academic administrators and industry hiring managers should prepare now for the next decline in enrollment.

Chemical engineering undergraduate enrollment is cyclical. Nationally, the ChE BS graduation rate has about a 15-year period and a 2:1 amplitude ratio. Currently, graduation rates are just off the peak and are beginning the downward trend.

Since college administrators are sensitive to enrollment, there will be great pressure on heads, directors, and chairs to correct what is wrong. But, just as the change of seasons causes vegetables to stop growing in the fall, nothing is wrong with the soil or the farmer. However, without understanding the nature of enrollment cycling, there will be pressure on program administrators to fix the problem to keep the farm productive even during the cold season.

Industry has been enjoying the ample supply of BS ChE graduates, but as graduation rates decline, employers will have to scramble to fill their entry-level positions.

This article updates information published in CEP in 2008 (1) on ChE undergraduate enrollment trends and provides analysis, perspective, and advice that will help in industrial recruitment planning and academic program management...

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