Chemical Engineering History

Chemical Engineering at Caltech has a long tradition. Started as applied chemistry by Arthur Amos Noyes, the department led the famous Project 37 of the American Petroleum Institute that provided much of the basic knowledge on thermodynamics and phase equilibria in hydrocarbon systems. Subsequent developments, under the able guidance of a series of distinguished educators and scientists, have led the department to the forefront of research and teaching in chemical engineering.
At the present time, the chemical engineering faculty at Caltech is one of the most distinguished and innovative in the world, actively leading chemical engineering research into new areas of application and involvement.

major gift from Arnold Beckman, founder of Beckman Instruments and a Caltech trustee, has established the Beckman Institute, an endowed laboratory on the campus that fosters research at the frontiers of chemistry and biology. Caltech faculty members can participate in the Institute's activities if their research falls into this category.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, located in Pasadena, is NASA's prime center for unmanned space exploration. NASA established a special fund, the President's Fund, to promote cooperative research between the academic faculty and JPL staff. A number of research projects in the department of Chemical Engineering at Caltech have been carried out in collaboration with JPL.

Five members of our faculty are members of the National Academy of Engineering. Three members of the Caltech chemical engineering faculty have received the Allan P. Colburn Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, given to honor outstanding research achievements before the age of 35. Four of the faculty have been Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholars, five have been NSF (National Science Foundation) Young Investigators, and one is an Office of Naval Research Young Investigator. Also, one faculty member is the first engineer to win the prestigious NSF Alan T. Waterman Award.

Division faculty members have received other major awards of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, including the William H. Walker, Professional Progress, and Wilhelm Awards, and have been recognized by research awards from the American Chemical Society, the American Society for Engineering Education, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.