Welcome from the Department Head

Joel Plawsky

Welcome to the endlessly fascinating world of chemical and biological engineering! The products and processes we develop enable nearly all other engineering disciplines and scientific pursuits. The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer is uniquely positioned to provide the highest level of education and research at the undergraduate and graduate levels. We are, in many ways, the liberal arts of engineering and our students are equipped with the skills and knowledge to pursue fulfilling careers in academia, industry, and government. Our alumni obtain advanced degrees in nearly every engineering discipline and are well poised to pursue opportunities in law, business, and medicine. The interests of the Department lie in the fields of transport processes, catalysis and separations technology, biotechnology and bioseparations, metabolic engineering and biocatalysis, electronic, photonic, and polymeric materials, and process design and control. Individual faculty research includes theoretical, experimental, and simulation work applied to inorganic, polymeric, and biological materials, their synthesis, and their structure and behavior.  chemical and biological engineering starts from a molecular point of view and develops the processes required to mass manufacture the raw materials required for pharmaceuticals, polymers, fuels, structural materials, and electronic materials.

The Department is the home of approximately 19 faculty, 400 undergraduate students, and 70 graduate students. We have primary affiliations with the Center for Materials, Devices, and Integrated Systems and the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Science. Additionally, Rensselaer houses the Center for Computational Innovation, the home of the legendary IBM Blue Gene Q, one of the world’s largest computational platforms, a completely equipped Class A clean room for processing electronic materials, and centralized materials processing facilities. The Department prides itself on its undergraduate research program that attempts to connect virtually every undergraduate who desires a research experience with a graduate student and faculty mentor who will provide a fulfilling laboratory experience. Our student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and our ChemE Car program connect our undergraduates with the corporate world and provide them with a comprehensive view of all the opportunities available for those holding a chemical engineering degree. Our vibrant seminar program introduces graduate and undergraduate students to the cutting edge work of Nobel laureates and others who are directing the evolution of the field.

Our Department's graduates are employed in nearly every industry and are actively working to fulfill Rensselaer's motto and Change the World.

Joel Plawsky
Professor and Department Head
Chemical and Biological Engineering

What is Chemical Engineering and Why Be a Chemical Engineer?