August 2005 Issue
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Chemical Engineering Turns 100


Carnegie Mellon’s Chemical Engineering Department catapulted the world from the industrial age into the high tech era, an accomplishment that took vision, creativity and leadership. That innovative energy is being honored this year as the department celebrates 100 years of education, scholarship and research.

A gala celebration designed to reunite alumni with faculty and students will begin at 8:30 a.m., Oct. 27 in Carnegie Mellon’s Roberts Hall. The event will highlight some of the department’s past contributions to the field of chemical engineering, its current research programs and academic projects that stretch from offering the nation’s first chemical engineering degrees to establishing the first design research center in 1974 —linking artificial intelligence and cognitive psychology to engineering design.

The department’s past includes some of the great names in chemical engineering. Warren McCabe made legendary contributions to distillation through the development of McCabe-Thiele diagrams that are familiar to all chemical engineers. Ernst Berl developed the Berl Saddle, used for many decades as column packings throughout the world.

Today the department leads the world in the area of process optimization and design, and the application of these concepts to problems ranging from senior design to the protection of urban water systems. Other exciting and ongoing research programs include the development of new chiral surfaces and materials for synthesis and separations of pharmaceuticals with left- or right-handed molecular structures. Pharmaceuticals such as the notorious drug thalidomide come in left- or right-handed forms, one of which is therapeutical while the other is toxic. Separation of the two is vital for developing safer, purer and more economical drugs for physicians and their patients.

“We have entered an important year in the history of chemical engineering, and we plan to celebrate our innovative history with a renovation of our academic home in Doherty Hall and many other anniversary activities,” said Andy Gellman, head of the Chemical Engineering Department. Besides the symposium on Oct. 27, the department will host a dinner party the same evening at the Carnegie Museum’s Hall of Architecture. In addition to College of Engineering Dean Pradeep Khosla, guests will include:

Thomas McConomy (E’55)
chairman of Calgon Carbon Corp. and a Carnegie Mellon trustee
E. Kears Pollock (E’62, ’64)
retired executive vice president of PPG and a Carnegie Mellon trustee
John L. Anderson
provost and university vice president at Case Western Reserve University and former dean of Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering
Carol Dudley (E’80)
vice president of research and development at The Dow Chemical Company
Paul MacKenzie (E’92)
director of process development at Bristol-Myers Squibb
Jonathan M. Rothberg (E’85)
founder and former chairman of CuraGen Corp. and a Carnegie Mellon trustee
Herbert L. Toor
university professor emeritus and past dean of the College of Engineering
Scott Whalen (E’81)
product development director at Procter & Gamble
Lynn Yanyo (E’81)
global sales and marketing manager in the materials business unit at the Lord Corp.
Tomlinson Fort
Centennial Professor of Chemical Engineering and professor emeritus at Vanderbilt University

For more information about the 100th anniversary of Carnegie Mellon’s Chemical Engineering Department, please contact Janet Latini, at 412-268-2230 or

Related Links:
Chemical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon

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