Chemical Engineering at Manchester

Chemical engineers have been described as "universal engineers" for their multidisciplinarity, versatility and diverse involvement in the development of new manufacturing technologies. Analytical scientists can equally be regarded as 'universal scientists', since all scientific research and quality control relies on their specialist knowledge in measurement and analysis.

Bringing together chemical engineering and analytical science in one school provides synergistic benefits that enables us to work at the forefront of scientific and engineering research. Combining expertise in engineering design, physical sciences, life sciences, computer modelling and electronics, we are in a unique position to work across the boundaries of these disciplines, to push back the frontiers of science and technology and train the future leaders of academia and industry.

  • What is Chemical Engineering?

    Chemical Engineering concerns the science and technology related to manufacturing products from raw materials in a safe, sustainable, environmentally benign and cost-effective way. The primary physical laws underlying chemical engineering design are conservation of mass, conservation of momentum and conservation of energy. Chemical engineers model physical and chemical processes mathematically to understand and predict how and why they happen. They devise innovative methods of manipulating materials more effectively, cheaply and safely to create the diverse range of products that modern society needs. This involves understanding thermodynamics, fluid dynamics and chemical reaction kinetics and requires the ability to work with complex equations. Experiments range from manipulating tiny amounts of substances in high-tech laboratories to working with huge industrial scale processes and extreme pressures and temperatures.

    Chemical engineers work at the boundary between science and engineering, striving to solve technical problems and design processes that are as sustainable as possible. Computers and electronics have made a huge difference to our ability to measure and model processes - calculations that once took months or even years can now be carried out within minutes. Technology itself is changing, with the focus moving away from traditional large scale processing to understanding processes on a molecular level, exploiting biotechnology and nanotechnology. From medicines to textiles to transport to food and drink to energy production, chemical engineers impact every aspect of modern life.

  • Our history

    It was 1824 and the UK's Industrial Revolution was spreading. A group of prestigious businessmen and industrialists met up in a local pub and decided to form the 'Manchester Mechanics' Institute', to meet the need for workers educated in both chemistry and mechanics.

    George E Davis
    George Davis (1850-1907)
    Founder of the profession

    Sixty three years later, in 1887, in the Manchester Technical School (as it had then become), Professor George E Davis created the discipline we now know and love as 'Chemical Engineering' and wrote the first Chemical Engineering text book. Yes - that's right - it all started right here!

    In 1918, the institution changed its name again to the 'Municipal College of Technology'. In 1966 it became the 'University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology' (UMIST), which it remained to be called until ceasing to exist on 1st October 2004 when it was reborn as 'The University of Manchester'.

    The 'Department of Chemical Engineering', 'Department of Instrumentation and Analytical Science' and 'Centre for Process Integration' operated as independent departments in UMIST until 1st October 2004, when all three merged to become the new 'School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science' in The University of Manchester.

    Following the new University's launch, we carried out a complete staff reorganisation and review of our systems to share best practices and decide how to manage our future operations. We are currently formulating our new vision and direction, and plan to build on the past successes and unique strengths and capabilities of all three of our former departments to create a bright and successful future for the School, its staff and its students.

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