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Chemical Engineering

Michael D. Amiridis, Chair of the Department

Joseph H. Gibbons, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, 1961
Michael A. Matthews, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1986
Harry J. Ploehn, Ph.D., Princeton University, 1988

Branko Popov, Ph.D., University of Zagreb, Croatia, 1972
Vincent Van Brunt, Ph.D., University of Tennessee, 1974
John W. Van Zee, Ph.D., Texas A&M University, 1984
Ralph E. White, Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1977
Westinghouse Distinguished Scientist, Dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology

Associate Professors
Michael D. Amiridis, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, 1991

Perla B. Balbuena, Ph.D., University of Texas, 1996
Francis A. Gadala-Maria, Ph.D., Stanford University, 1979
Undergraduate Director
T.D. Papathanasiou, Ph.D., McGill University, 1990
James A. Ritter, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 1989
John W. Weidner, Ph.D., North Carolina State University, 1991

Assistant Professors
John Bender, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 1995
Edward Gatzke, Ph.D., University of Delaware, 2000
Graduate Director

Thomas G. Stanford, Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1977
Christopher Williams, Ph.D., Purdue University, 1997


The Department of Chemical Engineering offers research-oriented graduate study programs leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, as well as a program for professional development culminating in the Master of Engineering degree. Advanced course work in chemical engineering has three objectives: to give students a solid foundation in core concepts at the graduate level, to prepare students for independent research in a field of specialization, and to expose students to a broad range of knowledge in chemical engineering and allied disciplines. The M.S. and Ph.D. programs emphasize independent research leading to the submission of a thesis or dissertation and publication of results in peer-reviewed technical journals. Students in the M.E. program may, at their option, propose a program of independent study, supervised by a faculty member, that may replace up to six hours of lecture courses.

In all cases, students should prepare and receive approval of a formal program of study that lists the specific courses to be used for their degree. In addition, proposals for independent study as a part of the M.E. degree program must be reviewed and approved by the faculty of the department before the work is initiated. Programs of study and plans for independent study and research should be developed in collaboration with the graduate director or the student's research advisor.

Graduates from the Department of Chemical Engineering readily find entry-level employment in engineering research, development, management, marketing, sales, production, and design. Recent graduates have assumed positions in industry, government service, and academe.

Fields of Specialization

The research interests of the faculty span all of the traditional core areas of chemical engineering and extend into many frontiers. Ongoing research may be found in fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, separations, kinetics and reactor design, process control, and process design. Building upon this traditional core, the department has developed more specialized research strengths in electrochemical and corrosion engineering, advanced materials, environmentally conscious manufacturing, and molecular simulations. A complete description of the current research interests of the faculty may be found in the department's brochure or on its Web page, located at www.che.sc.edu.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission to graduate degree programs in chemical engineering (M.E., M.S., Ph.D.) conform to the general regulations of The Graduate School. In general, the admissions process is highly competitive. Admissions decisions are based on the quality of the applicant's previous college work (as reflected by grade point average), letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and other evidence of past accomplishments.

Applicants normally hold the B.S. degree in chemical engineering from an accredited engineering program. Admission to the Ph.D. degree program does not require a master's degree; most Ph.D. students are admitted directly from undergraduate programs. Scores on the GRE must be submitted by all applicants seeking financial aid, as well as all applicants from undergraduate programs not accredited by ABET. International applicants must also submit TOEFL or the University of Cambridge's IELTS Academic Course Type 2 exam scores.

In addition to the requirements of The Graduate School, all applicants should submit a statement of purpose (or similar document) that describes the applicant’s background, research interests, and whether or not financial aid is required. Students admitted to the Ph.D. degree program usually receive financial aid. However, the department does not normally provide financial aid to students in the M.E. or M.S. degree programs.

Applicants with degrees (B.S. or higher) in other engineering disciplines or chemistry may be admitted with additional remedial course requirements in chemical engineering at the undergraduate level. In general, the following USC chemical engineering undergraduate courses, or their equivalents from other ABET-accredited chemical engineering departments, are required: ECHE 311, 320, 321, 322, and 430 (for graduate credit).

Additional courses in mathematics and chemistry may also be required. The detailed specification of course requirements and substitutions of courses from other universities will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Degree Requirements

Four specific courses are required for all graduate degrees: ECHE 700, 710, 720, and 722. No foreign language is required for any graduate degree in chemical engineering. Additional requirements follow.

Accelerated B.S./M.E. Education Plan

The Accelerated B.S./M.E. Plan in Chemical Engineering allows students to complete both the B.S. degree and a Master of Engineering degree in chemical engineering in as few as five years. The use of dual credit--courses that can be used toward both degrees--enables acceleration of the program, reducing the total enrollment of the student by one semester.

Chemical engineering students may apply for approval of an accelerated education plan in the semester in which they will complete 90 hours of undergraduate course work. In addition, students must have a sufficient foundation in chemical engineering course work to enable them to take graduate-level courses. University and department regulations stipulate that applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.40, both overall and in chemical engineering courses. Students may apply by submitting an accelerated education plan, an application for senior privilege, and a copy of a Graduate School application to the graduate director in chemical engineering. The dean of The Graduate School has final authority for approving accelerated education plans.

Only graduate-level courses (numbered 500 and above) may be used for dual credit. No more than nine credit hours may be used as dual credit. The graduate courses used for dual credit must be taken during the student’s final undergraduate year. The student graduates with the B.S. degree after completing the B.S. degree requirements. At that time, the student is admitted to the graduate program with up to nine hours of graduate credit.

Master of Engineering

For the Master of Engineering degree, a set of six additional courses is required. Two of these must be chemical engineering lecture courses, and the remaining four may be from business, chemistry, engineering, or mathematics. A program of independent study (ECHE 797, three or six credit hours) may be substituted for one or two of the remaining four courses. Proposals for programs of independent study must be submitted and approved by the faculty of the department before the work is initiated. The graduate director serves as the academic advisor for M.E. students.

Master of Science

For the Master of Science degree, a set of four additional courses and 6 hours of thesis preparation (ECHE 799) are required. Two of the additional courses must be from chemical engineering, and the other two may be from chemistry, engineering, or mathematics. The student's research advisor specifies these courses after discussion with the student. Independent study (ECHE 797) cannot be used for the M.S. degree.

Each M.S. student must select a research advisor during the first semester after admission. In addition, an advisory committee of no less than three members will be selected. The committee, which must include the department chair, conducts the comprehensive examination and reviews the student's thesis. Prior to graduation, each M.S. student must submit at least one paper for publication in a peer-reviewed technical journal. For the comprehensive examination, the M.S. student's research results are presented orally before an audience that includes the advisory committee. Other requirements pertaining to the final submission of the thesis conform to the general regulations of The Graduate School.

Doctor of Philosophy

For Doctor of Philosophy students, a minimum of 66 credit hours is required beyond the baccalaureate degree, with no more than 12 credit hours of dissertation preparation (ECHE 899). In addition to the four required courses listed above, ECHE 730 and three additional ECHE courses are required. The remaining two courses may be from chemistry, engineering, or mathematics. No more than two courses below the 700 level may be used on the program of study.

For students entering the Ph.D. degree program with a master's degree in chemical engineering equivalent to that awarded at USC, a minimum of 36 credit hours, including at least six courses (24 hours) and 12 hours of dissertation preparation (ECHE 899), are required. The requirements for specified courses (ECHE 700, 710, 720, 722, and 730) may be satisfied by equivalent courses taken for the master's degree, subject to approval by the graduate director. Of the six courses, four must be from chemical engineering; the other two may be from chemistry, engineering, or mathematics. No more than two courses below the 700 level may be taken for graduate credit, including courses taken in the master's degree program. All courses taken for credit must be approved in writing by the student's research advisor prior to course enrollment.

Each Ph.D. student must select a research advisor during the first semester after admission to the doctoral program. After a Ph.D. student passes the admission to candidacy examination, an advisory committee of no less than four members will be selected. The committee must include the department chair and one outside member. Doctoral students must pass the comprehensive examination before the start of the student's fifth semester in the program (not including summer terms). Students should consult the graduate director for information on the format and subjects of the admission to candidacy and comprehensive examinations. Prior to graduation, each Ph.D. student must submit at least three papers for publication in peer-reviewed technical journals. Other requirements pertaining to the comprehensive examination, dissertation examination, and final submission of the dissertation conform to the general regulations of The Graduate School.

Under extenuating circumstances, students may seek relief from departmental degree regulations by written petition to the graduate director. After review, the departmental graduate committee forwards petitions with a recommendation to the faculty for final action.

Course Descriptions (ECHE)

  • 567 -- Process Safety, Health, and Loss Prevention. (3) (Prereq: senior standing) Reliability, availability, and fault-tree analyses, risk indices, hazard evaluation, vapor cloud modeling, toxicology, material safety classification and regulations, individual/corporate ethical responsibilities.
  • 520 -- Chemical Engineering Fluid Mechanics. (3) (Prereq: ENGR 360) Multi-phase pressure drop, phase contacting, flow through porous media, fluidization, mixing, and turbulence.
  • 550 -- Chemical-Process Dynamics and Control. (3) (Prereq: grade of C or better in ECHE 300 and MATH 242) Fundamental physical and chemical principles in mathematically modeling the dynamic response of chemical processes; feedforward and feedback control systems; design of control schemes for selected chemical processes.
  • 571 -- Corrosion Engineering. (3) (Prereq: senior standing) Basic principles of corrosion engineering developed from a chemical engineering approach to thermodynamics, kinetics, mass transfer, and potential theory.
  • 572 -- Polymer Processing. (3) (Prereq: senior standing) Industrial polymers with emphasis on their characterization and on the modeling of the major polymer fabrication processes.
  • 589 -- Special Advanced Topics in Chemical Engineering. (3) Course content varies and will be announced in the schedule of classes by suffix and title. May be repeated as topic varies.
  • 700 -- Chemical Process Analysis. (3) Quantitative analysis of industrial chemical operations. Equilibrium relations, material and energy balances, and reaction kinetics principles are used to analyze a variety of chemical processes and systems.
  • 709 -- Selected Topics in Industrial Stoichiometry. (3) Special topics in industrial stoichiometry with emphasis on current research.
  • 710 -- Advanced Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. (3) (Prereq: ECHE 311) Mass, energy, and entropy balance analysis of complex systems; evaluation of thermodynamic property changes of pure materials; solution thermodynamics of single-phase multicomponent systems; phase and chemical reaction equilibrium.
  • 719 -- Selected Topics in Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics. (3) Special topics in chemical engineering thermodynamics with emphasis on current research.
  • 720 -- Advanced Fluid Flow Analysis. (3) (Prereq: ENGR 360 and MATH 242) Theory and application of fluid flow phenomena; momentum equations, conformal mapping, empirical methods, boundary layers, dimensional analysis.
  • 721 -- Advanced Heat Flow Analysis. (3) (Prereq: ECHE 321 and ECHE 720) Theory and application of heat flow phenomena; classical techniques and finite-difference numerical methods; conduction, convection, radiation, boiling.
  • 722 -- Advanced Mass Transfer. (3) (Prereq or coreq: ECHE 720) Diffusive and convective mass transfer. Applications of the Stefan-Maxwell equations, prediction of diffusion coefficients, convective mass transport, correlations for mass transfer coefficients, and combined mass transfer and reaction modeling.
  • 725 -- Rheology. (3) Rheological characteristics of viscous, elastic, viscoelastic, and plastic substances; non-Newtonian fluid flow, viscometry, and rheogoniometry; rheological equations of state; engineering applications.
  • 728 -- Selected Topics in Fluid Mechanics. (3) Special topics in fluid mechanics with emphasis on current research.
  • 729 -- Selected Topics in Heat and Mass Transfer. (3) Special topics in heat and mass transfer with emphasis on current research.
  • 730 -- Chemical Reactor Design. (3) Optimum temperature sequencing. Modeling of non-ideal reactors. Theories of catalysis with emphasis on the rate of diffusion. Interpretation of experimental catalytic data and use of these data in reactor design.
  • 739 -- Selected Topics in Kinetics and Reactor Design. (3) Special topics in kinetics and reactor design with emphasis on current research.
  • 740 -- Distillation. (3) Analytical, shortcut, and computer techniques for plate contacting of multicomponent systems. Review of binary separations, V-L-E models, azeotropic and extractive distillation, effects of non-key components, computational schemes, and convergence criteria.
  • 741 -- Liquid-Liquid Extraction. (3) Principles of modeling liquid-liquid extraction cascades. Evaluation of L-L-E, ternary systems, design applications for hydrometallurgical systems, interlinked cascade structures for multiple solute systems, efficiency of process equipment, and synergism.
  • 749 -- Selected Topics in Separations. (3) Special topics in separations with emphasis on current research.
  • 750 -- Process Dynamics and Control. (3) (Prereq: ECHE 550) Advanced topics in chemical process dynamics and control. Multivariate analysis, system identification, sampling, optimal process control.
  • 759 -- Selected Topics in Process Control. (3) Special topics in process control with emphasis on current research.
  • 769 -- Selected Topics in Chemical Engineering Design. (3) Special topics in chemical engineering design with emphasis on current research.
  • 770 -- Electrochemical Engineering. (3) Electrochemical engineering principles developed from thermodynamic, kinetic, mass transfer, and potential theory. Numerical analysis and design of electrochemical systems. Statistical analysis of experimental data and industrial experimental designs.
  • 771 -- Corrosion Engineering. (3) Corrosion engineering principles developed from thermodynamic, kinetic, mass transfer, and potential theory. Numerical analysis of corroding systems, statistical analysis of experimental data, and industrial experimental designs.
  • 772 -- Principles of Polymer Systems. (3) Theory and applications of polymer systems. Structure, physical properties, rheological, and mechanical behavior of polymers. Polymerization reactions and industrial polymerization processes. Fabrication techniques.
  • 789 -- Selected Topics in Chemical Engineering. (3) Approved for special topic offerings.
  • 797 -- Research. (1-12) Individual research to be arranged with instructor.
  • 798 -- Graduate Seminar in Chemical Engineering. (1-2) Seminar on current topics in chemical engineering. Includes oral presentations by students on research projects. Pass-Fail grading. (Restricted to chemical engineering students.)
  • 799 -- Thesis Preparation. (1-12) To be arranged by candidates for the master's degree with the thesis advisor.
  • 865 -- Chemical Process Safety and Loss Prevention. (3) (Prereq: ECHE 720) Chemical process quantitative risk analysis, consequence modeling, risk estimation, and hazards assessment; design principles including inherent safety and mitigation techniques; elements of process safety management.
  • 899 -- Dissertation Preparation. (1-12)

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