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Faculty of Engineering

Bachelor of Applied Science and Bachelor of Software Engineering Specific Degree Requirements

Chemical Engineering
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Chemical Engineers apply scientific and engineering principles to develop processes or systems for the economic production and distribution of useful and value-added materials through the physical, chemical or biochemical transformation of matter. Furthermore, this must be accomplished with attention paid to economics, health and safety, and environmental impact.

Chemical Engineers combine a sound background in fundamental understanding of science and mathematics with highly-developed problem-solving skills to improve existing processes or methods, or to implement new ones. Chemical Engineers are distinguished from physical scientists such as chemists by their training in the "engineering method": the use of heuristics to cause the best change in a poorly understood situation within the available resources.

Chemical Engineers design, analyze, optimize and control processing operations, or guide others who perform these functions, in industry, government, universities or private practice. Most materials encountered in daily life have been impacted by Chemical Engineering at some stage. Chemical Engineers will continue to be in demand for many exciting new developments over the next few decades.

Current and future activity areas include:

  • Energy: conservation; renewable and non-renewable resources; fuel cells; hydrogen economy.
  • Materials: petrochemicals; biochemicals and foods; nanomaterials; consumer goods; pulp and paper; polymers; pharmaceuticals; etc.
  • Environment: pollution prevention; pollution control; climate change mitigation; recycling; environmental safety and regulations; etc.

In a world faced with growing shortages of non-renewable resources and a finite limit on the amounts of renewable resources, persons wishing to use their talents to optimize the recovery or utilization of matter and energy will find Chemical Engineering a challenging and satisfying career, one which will place them in enviable positions with respect to the availability of employment opportunities. In addition to technical positions, Chemical Engineers often move into managerial functions within their companies. Traditionally, significant numbers of women enter Chemical Engineering and this trend continues.

Waterloo offers the student a first-rate opportunity to obtain a sound, relevant background in the discipline of Chemical Engineering. The Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo is one of the largest and most active departments in North America. There are 33 full-time faculty, each of whom specializes in a particular sub-field through research and consulting activities, thereby bringing depth as well as breadth to the instruction and professional development of students.

Chemical Engineering at Waterloo is a co-operative education program and offers many advantages:

  • an opportunity through work terms to gain exposure to a variety of job-related experiences within Chemical Engineering 
  • work term salaries effectively reduce the costs associated with university education 
  • Waterloo graduates receive favourable recognition from employers for their work term experiences 
  • work terms can offer an opportunity to travel through a worldwide network of co-op employers 
  • academic terms become more meaningful and relevant against a background of work term related experience

The Waterloo Chemical Engineering Curriculum

A Curriculum for the 21st Century

The curriculum offers courses in life science and material science, to provide the fundamentals required for future careers in the biotechnology or nanotechnology areas. There are four technical elective courses that can be taken to either focus in an area of particular interest or to build a strong general background for maximum career flexibility.

The main emphasis in the first and second year is on courses in science and mathematics which provide the foundations upon which engineering skills can be built. The upper-year core and elective courses assume and require this background.

Engineering is both a quantitative and an applied discipline, which requires a strong mathematical ability. Courses in Calculus, Algebra, Engineering Computation, Differential Equations, Engineering Economics, and Statistics help develop this ability. More specialized Engineering Mathematics courses extend into the third year.

To perform successfully, the Chemical Engineer must be able to design, analyze and control processes to produce useful and desirable products from less valuable raw materials in an efficient, economic and socially responsible way. The knowledge and skills essential for achieving these goals are developed in the core Chemical Engineering courses taken mainly in the third and fourth years (e.g., in fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, reactor design, biotechnology, process control, process and equipment design). Most of these courses are a mixture of theory and practice. Computer simulations and hands-on laboratory experiences are used in several courses to reinforce the theoretical principles.

Students in the fourth year complete a group project in direct collaboration with one of their professors. These projects allow students to focus on topics and industries of special interest for their career goals. Numerous Canadian companies also sponsor projects, reinforcing the bridge between academic and work term experience. There are opportunities to compete in national and international design competitions.

In the third and fourth years, students select technical elective courses to further develop their understanding of, and ability to use, engineering principles applied to important Canadian industrial sectors. Many of these electives can be taken to fulfill Faculty Option requirements, or to focus on an area of particular interest such as polymer processing, biotechnology, analysis and control, or environment. Courses from other departments in Engineering and the University are available as electives.

An important component of the development of a professional engineer, which receives emphasis throughout the entire four-year curriculum, is frequent practice in learning to communicate technical results clearly, accurately, and effectively to others. Written practice is provided in the requirement for co-op work term reports which are graded by faculty. Written and oral report requirements in laboratory and other courses provide additional practice opportunities.

Accelerated Master's Program in Chemical Engineering

Provision is made for outstanding students to pursue an Accelerated Master's Program. This program provides a quicker route to the Master of Applied Science (MASc) degree. Admission is normally granted to qualified students possessing a consistently good cumulative academic record at the end of the 3A term. See Accelerated Master's Program in Engineering for more details.

Complementary Studies Electives (CSEs)

A total of six Complementary Studies courses must be taken, consisting of five one-term elective courses (CSEs) in non-technical areas (that is, outside the engineering, sciences, and mathematics disciplines) and a core course in engineering economics. This requirement is organized on a Faculty basis and is detailed elsewhere in this Engineering section. If some Complementary Studies Electives are satisfied online or from other institutions on Letters of Permission, each term's minimum course load must be maintained by substituting an approved "free" elective (technical or non-technical).

Ethics and Equity Milestone

This degree milestone must be met by all graduating Chemical Engineering students by either completing one course from the following list (can be taken as a CSE)

or by completing PD 22 - Professionalism and Ethics in Engineering Practice.

Options and Minors

A number of Faculty or University Designated Options available to Engineering students are listed and described elsewhere in this Engineering section. Students who satisfy the option requirements (usually seven or eight courses) will have the appropriate designation shown on their transcript.

Minors are sequences of courses, usually totalling ten, which are arranged in conjunction with another department outside of Engineering, such as Economics, Biology, Psychology, etc. and lead to an appropriately designated degree. Approval from both Chemical Engineering and the other department is required.

Usually students must take extra courses to complete a Minor or a Designated Option. Students in Chemical Engineering are most frequently interested in the Management Sciences Option, the Environmental Engineering Option, the Biomechanics Option, the Statistics Option and the Water Resources Option.

Academic Program

The following program is applicable to students entering Chemical Engineering in the Fall 2012 term and beyond. Students admitted prior to 2012 should consult the calendar pertinent to their year of admission for the applicable requirements. Note that CHE 425 must be completed in addition to a total of 5 approved Complementary Studies Electives (excluding Engineering Economics) and 4 approved Technical Electives (TE).

Glossary of descriptions for the next table:

Code Description
LEC Lecture and number of hours
TUT Tutorial and number of hours
LAB  Laboratory and number of hours 
PRJ Project and number of hours
A,B,C,D  These courses count toward Complementary Studies requirements:
A- Impact, B- Engineering Economics, C- Humanities and Social Sciences, D- Other. 
4 Indicates Stream 4 program 
8 Indicates Stream 8 program 
*   20 hours4, 15 hours8 
**  Approximately 42 hours over the term 
*** 12 hours4, 17 hours8
‡  Alternate weeks 
+ Laboratory, tutorial and project component for these electives will vary


Term Course Title and Notes

1A Fall4,8

CHE 100 Chemical Engineering Concepts 1 (3 LEC,2 TUT*,6 LAB**)
CHE 102  Chemistry for Engineers (3 LEC,2 TUT) 
MATH 115  Linear Algebra for Engineering (3 LEC,2 TUT) 
MATH 116  Calculus 1 for Engineering (3 LEC,2 TUT)
PHYS 115  Mechanics (3 LEC,2 TUT) 

1B Winter8 and Spring4

CHE 101 Chemical Engineering Concepts 2 (3 LEC,2 TUT***,2 LAB)
CHE 121  Engineering Computation (3 LEC,2 TUT) 
CHE 161 Engineering Biology (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
GENE 123  Electrical Engineering (3 LEC,1 TUT,3 LAB‡) 
MATH 118  Calculus 2 for Engineering (3 LEC,2 TUT) 
CSE   Approved Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+

2A Fall8 and Winter4

CHE 200 Equilibrium Stage Operations (3 LEC,1 TUT)
CHE 220  Process Data Analysis (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 230  Physical Chemistry 1 (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 290  Chemical Engineering Lab 1 (3 LAB) 
CHEM 262  Organic Chemistry for Engineering and Bioinformatics Students (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHEM 262L  Organic Chemistry Laboratory for Engineering Students (3 LAB) 
MATH 217  Calculus 3 for Chemical Engineering (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 298 Directed Research Project (6PRJ) (optional extra)

2B Spring8 and Fall4

CHE 211 Fluid Mechanics (3 LEC,1 TUT)
CHE 231  Physical Chemistry 2 (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 241  Materials Science and Engineering (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 291  Chemical Engineering Lab 2 (3 LAB) 
MATH 218  Differential Equations for Engineers (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
MSCI 261  Engineering Economics: Financial Management for Engineers (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
WKRPT 2004  Work-term Report 
CHE 299 Directed Research Project (6 PRJ) (optional extra)

3A Winter8 and Spring4

CHE 312 Mathematics of Heat and Mass Transfer (3 LEC,1 TUT)
CHE 314  Chemical Reaction Engineering (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 322  Numerical Methods for Process Analysis and Design (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 330  Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 390  Chemical Engineering Lab 3 (3 LAB) 
CSE   Approved Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+
WKRPT 2008  Work-term Report 
WKRPT 3004  Work-term Report 
CHE 398 Directed Research Project (6 PRJ) (optional extra)

3B Fall8 and Winter4

CHE 313  Applications of Heat and Mass Transfer (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 331  Electrochemical Engineering (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
CHE 361  Bioprocess Engineering (3 LEC,1 TUT)
CHE 391  Chemical Engineering Lab 4 (3 LAB) 
TE  or
CSE or CHE 4254,8 
Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+) or Strategies for Process Improvement and Product Development (3 LEC,1 TUT)
TE or CSE Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+)
WKRPT 3008  Work-term Report 
CHE 399 Directed Research Project (6 PRJ) (optional extra)

4A Spring8 and Fall4

CHE 420 Introduction to Process Control (3LEC,1 TUT)
CHE 480  Process Analysis and Design (3 LEC,2 TUT) 
CHE 482  Chemical Engineering Design Workshop (2 LEC,3 PRJ) 
CHE 490 Chemical Engineering Lab 5(4 LAB) 
TE  or
CSE or CHE 4254 
Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+) or Strategies for Process Improvement and Product Development (3 LEC,1 TUT) 
TE or CSE Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+
WKRPT 4004,8  Work-term Report 
CHE 498 Directed Research Project (6 PRJ) (optional extra)

4B Winter4,8

CHE 483 Group Design Project (1 LEC,9 PRJ)
TE or CSE   Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+
TE or CSE Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+
TE or CSE   Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+
TE or CSE or CHE 4254,8  Approved Technical or Complementary Studies Elective (3 LEC+) or Strategies for Process Improvement and Product Development (3 LEC,1 TUT)

Approved Technical Electives

Technical Elective (TE) courses for Chemical Engineering students are organized in three main thematic areas and may be selected from the following lists. Only one non-CHE course is permitted if CHE 499 is chosen. Otherwise, students may select up to two non-CHE TE courses. Courses from other departments (i.e., non-CHE) will likely require permission of the instructor and/or other prerequisites. Consult a current calendar for prerequisites and terms of offering. In brackets are recommended minimum levels that CHE students should be enrolled in before attempting a given course.  Variations from this course selection list must be approved by the Department.

List 1 - Energy and Environmental Systems and Processes:

Course Title and Notes
CHE 499 Elective Research Project (3B)
CHE 500 Special Topics in Chemical Engineering (contact Department)
CHE 514 Fundamentals of Petroleum Production (3B)
CHE 516 Energy Systems Engineering (3B)
CHE 571 Industrial Ecology (3B)
CHE 572 Air Pollution Control (4B)
CHE 574 Industrial Wastewater Pollution Control (4B)
CIVE 572 or ENVE 472 Wastewater Treatment (4A)
EARTH 458 Physical Hydrogeology (4A)
EARTH 459 Chemical Hydrogeology (4B) 
ENVE 573 Contaminant Transport (4B)
ENVE 577 Engineering for Solid Waste Management (4B)
ME 452 Energy Transfer in Buildings (4B)
ME 459 Energy Conversion (3B)
ME 571 Air Pollution (4B)

List 2 - Materials and Manufacturing Processes:

Course Title and Notes
CHE 499 Elective Research Project (3B)
CHE 500 Special Topics in Chemical Engineering (contact Department)
CHE 541 Introduction to Polymer Science and Properties (3B)
CHE 543 Polymer Production: Polymer Reaction Engineering (4B)
CHE 562 Advanced Bioprocess Engineering (4B)
CHE 564 Food Process Engineering (4B)
CHE 571 Industrial Ecology (3B)
ME 435 Industrial Metallurgy (4A)
ME 531 Physical Metallurgy Applied to Manufacturing (4B)
ME 533 Non-metallic and Composite Materials (4B)
NE 352 Surfaces and Interfaces (4A)
NE 481 Introduction to Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology (4A)

List 3 - Process Modelling, Optimization and Control:

Course Title and Notes
CHE 499 Elective Research Project (3B)
CHE 500 Special Topics in Chemical Engineering (contact Department)
CHE 522 Advanced Process Dynamics and Control (4B)
CHE 524 Process Control Laboratory (4B)
EARTH 456 Numerical Methods in Hydrogeology (4A)
ME 362 Fluid Mechanics 2 (3B)
ME 559 Finite Element Methods (3B)
ME 566 Computational Fluid Dynamics for Engineering Design (4A)
NE 451 Simulation Methods in Nanotechnology Engineering (4A) 
MSCI 331 Introduction to Optimization (3B)
MSCI 332 Deterministic Optimization Models and Methods (3B) 
MSCI 431 Stochastic Models and Methods (4B) 
SYDE 411 Optimization and Numerical Methods (3B)
SYDE 531 Design Optimization Under Probabilistic Uncertainty (4B) 

All undergraduate course descriptions including Chemical Engineering can be found in the Course Descriptions section of this Calendar.

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