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The ChE program includes the flexibility to allow students to pursue independent research projects. Recent project topics/areas include surfactants, biochemical, modeling combustion chemistry, optimization of heat exchanger networks, adsorption, and phase equilibria of polar fluids. Some students have presented their work at regional and national conferences. In addition to being an opportunity to prepare for graduate school, undergraduate research experience is valuable in preparing students for industrial employment by experiencing an independent study, which develops skills such as project management, time management, writing, and presentation skills.

Students can also gain specialized experience by working on research projects being conducted by faculty.

Some Current Chemical Engineering Faculty Projects

Gas-liquid microfluidic flows

Professor Kimberly H. Henthorn

An existing system has been developed to study bubble dynamics in gas-liquid microfluidic flows. This project will involve the characterization of transitional bubble and liquid profiles during bubble breakup periods, and may also include investigation into the effect of fluid rheology on pressure drop profiles in these systems. It is anticipated that students will have prior knowledge of fluid dynamics and physics.

Polyelectrolyte multilayer films

Professor Adam J. Nolte

This project will explore the processing of ultrathin polymer coatings by alternating adsorption of positively and negatively charged polymers (polyelectrolytes). Such coatings are known as "polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs)" and they can have very interesting chemical and physical properties, including the ability to swell in specific ways in response to chemical species in their environment. This project will examine how various methods used to adsorb the polyelectrolytes affect the ability of the resulting PEM to swell in humid air. Students should possess basic physics and chemistry laboratory skills.

Biodegradable drug delivery vehicles

Professor Scott J. McClellan

Biodegradable polymers can be used to encapsulate drugs that will subsequently be released inside of the body as the polymer degrades. Care must be taken in the preparation of the drug-loaded particles to ensure uniformity in size and shape, and in the amount of drug loaded. In this project, a student will work to create and characterize drug-loaded nanoparticles. Total characterization includes particle size analysis, quantification of drug loading, and complete release studies.

For more on how to get involved in faculty projects, visit the IP/ROP site.