CU-Boulder Chemical Engineering Department Wins CCHE 'Program Of Excellence' Award

Published: June 13, 2001

The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder has been named a "Program of Excellence" by the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and awarded $1.37 million in funding over the next five years.

The department was recognized for its innovative Ph.D. program, which includes interdisciplinary courses and research training in the new field of nano-scale engineering. Also considered was the department's high level of faculty-student collaboration, including both graduate and undergraduate students, and the participation of industry throughout the department's research centers and programs.

Nano-scale engineering involves the design and fabrication of materials and devices with structural length scales that are too small to be seen by the naked eye but large compared to a single atom. Examples include polymeric nano-particles for targeted drug delivery, polymer scaffolds for tissue engineering, microfluidic devices and microelectromechanical systems (known as MEMS).

The department was one of six newly designated programs of excellence awarded grants by CCHE on June 7.

"The chemical engineering department at the University of Colorado at Boulder is nationally and internationally respected for its outstanding faculty and interdisciplinary programs that offer a challenging curriculum to include environmental, microelectronics, computing and bioengineering, as well as pre-medicine and biotechnology," said Chancellor Richard L. Byyny. "We are delighted that this preeminent program, which works closely with industry to develop new technologies and provides real-world experience for our students, is being recognized by the CCHE."

The chemical engineering faculty is widely recognized for excellence in both teaching and research, with 8 of 14 faculty having received university or national teaching awards and 13 faculty having received major national research awards.

The department's 62 Ph.D. students also are outstanding and have the highest average undergraduate grade-point average (3.74) of all CU-Boulder science and engineering programs. Graduates of the program have gone on to excel as leaders in academia, commerce and government.

The CCHE award will allow the department to enhance its hands-on learning by introducing laboratory exercises in nano-scale engineering courses and by developing research/education partnerships. Outreach activities also will be undertaken to introduce nano-scale technology and chemical engineering to K-12 students and teachers, along with undergraduates, according to department chair Robert Davis.

"There is a lot of enthusiasm in the department about the award," said Professor John Falconer, a CU President's Teaching Scholar. "This grant award can really help take us to the next level. It will help us continue to recruit high-quality graduate students and to maintain a strong program."

Other "Programs of Excellence" at CU-Boulder that are currently receiving funding from CCHE include the Applied Mathematics Program, the Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program and the department of aerospace engineering sciences.