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Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
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2019-2020

Chemical and life science engineering

College of Engineering

Concentration(s):
Chemical engineering, life science engineering
Program description

Chemical and life science engineering represents the formal interaction of chemical engineering with the life sciences.

Life science engineering — with interest areas including stem cell and stem cell-derived tissue engineering, biosciences/biotechnology, cellular engineering, biochips and biosensors, bioinformatics and molecular biocomputing, genetic and protein molecular engineering, environmental life science engineering, and molecular- and cellular-based therapeutics — is the fastest growing of all industries that currently employ engineers.

Chemical engineering and life science engineering share a broad range of common foundational knowledge bases, including the principles of mass and energy balances, transport phenomena and thermodynamics, surface and interfacial science, and reaction science and engineering. Strong academic and research programs in chemical and life science engineering will provide a wealth of exciting professional opportunities for successful graduates of the VCU program.

Career opportunities

Chemical engineers work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, polymers, biotechnology, and environmental health and safety industries, among others.  Within these industries, chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of mathematics and science, particularly chemistry, to overcome technical problems safely and economically. And, of course, they draw upon and apply their engineering knowledge to solve any technical challenges they encounter.

Chemical engineers also work in a variety of manufacturing industries other than chemical manufacturing, such as those producing energy, electronics, food, clothing, and paper. Chemical engineers apply principles of physics, mathematics, and mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as chemistry. Some may specialize in a particular chemical process, such as oxidation or polymerization. Others specialize in a particular field, such as nanomaterials, or in the development of specific products.

Change of major requirements

VCU GPA of 3.0 or greater, with a minimum of 12 VCU credit hours earned. Completion of MATH 200, 201, and any of CHEM 101, CLSE 101, or ENGR 101, all with a grade of "B" or higher. If attempted, MATH 200, MATH 201, MATH 301, MATH 307, PHYS 207, PHYS 208, CHEM 101, CHEM 102, CHEZ 101, and CHEZ 102, must be completed with a GPA of 3.0 or greater. All attempted engineering courses must be completed with a GPA of 3.0 or greater.


Bachelor-level job titles
  • Biochemical engineer
  • Biofuels engineer
  • Business consultant
  • Manufacturing engineer
  • Patent examiner
  • Process engineer
  • Product development engineer
  • Project engineer
  • Research chemical engineer
  • Sales engineer
Graduate and professional level job titles
  • College Professor
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Manufacturing/Product Development Engineer
  • Process & Quality Engineer
  • Research & Development Engineer
  • Research Scientist
  • Senior Product Development Engineer
Professional associations and resources
Degree requirements in Bulletin
Highest level of math required
  • MATH 201 or higher
Science required
    Foreign language requirements
    • No
    Additional tuition/fees
    • Yes
    GPA requirements (to progress/graduate in the major)
    • 2.0
    Department name:
    Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering
    Building/room location:
    601 West Main Street, Room 403
    Campus (where 75% of courses are taken):
    Monroe park
    Phone:
    (804) 828-7789
    Email:
    chemicalengr@vcu.edu

    Major map compass icon [View Image]
    Major map

    Explore
    MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
    GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
    BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
    GET REAL EXPERIENCE
    PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
    • Explore “What Can I Do With This Major” to learn about employers in your field of study.
    • Build a LinkedIn profile, connect to at least 10 people, and check out the VCU alumni page.
    • Join Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) to connect to VCU traditions, networking opportunities, and fellow Rams.
    • Access your free credit report and begin making responsible credit choices to prepare for your future.
    • Attend Engineering Internship/Career Fairs.

    Experience
    MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
    • Get familiar with the research process with the VCU Libraries Research Basics Guide. Ask questions about how to use the library.
    • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and explore minors, certificates, and skills-based value added courses.  
    • Talk to your professors about research interests, picking future classes, and strategies for success in your program.
    • Continue progression in engineering, math, chemistry, and physics.
    GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
    BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
    • Consider short-term, semester and year-long Study Abroad opportunities.
    • Get to know other VCU students and meet new friends from all over the world at a monthly Global Café.
    • Join a cultural or identity-related organization.
    • Identify ways in which you are culturally uninformed. Begin to learn the historical and current events that have shaped cultures to which you have been underexposed.
    GET REAL EXPERIENCE
    • Complete a “Gap Analysis” Strategic Plan with your academic or career advisor.
    • Gain practical experience related to career goals through internships, shadowing, part-time work, or independent skill building.
    • Create an ePortfolio to document academic/professional experiences, accomplishments, and reflections.
    • Attend Career & Internship Fairs and other professional development events. 
    • Work with Advising and Career Services to incorporate a co-op, internship or VIP Team into your curriculum.
    PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
    • Get plugged into VCULink to connect with students and alumni.
    • Conduct informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of career interest.
    • Consider who you would ask to serve as professional and academic references for future letters of recommendation.   
    • Meet with a coach at The Money Spot to set financial goals, understand student loans, and create spending plans.
    • Consider attending a national career fair (SWE, SHPE, NSBE) to gain exposure to more employers.

    Experience
    MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
    • See your academic and career advisors regularly to discuss your progress towards graduation and career planning.
    • Enhance your business, software, technology and creative skills using LinkedIn Learning.
    • Deepen your expertise at finding information in your discipline by working with your subject expert librarian & using research guides.
    • See your advisor to discuss track selection.
    • Attend or present a poster at a scientific meeting or conference.
    GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
    BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
    • Apply to be a Diversity Ambassador with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
    • Richmond is known for hosting a wide array of festivals! Learn about new cultures, food, and music by attending one of these events.
    • Update your resume to include how you have developed your communication and interpersonal skills for future work on multidisciplinary and multicultural teams.
    • Participate in culturally diverse events both at VCU and beyond.
    • Practice communication and interpersonal skills that embrace cultural differences, particularly in professional settings.
    GET REAL EXPERIENCE
    PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
    • Talk to advisors, faculty, and Career Services about graduate school versus a job.
    • Research graduate/professional schools at least 1 year in advance of deadlines. Study for and complete any exams the summer before senior year. 
    • Prepare for job offer negotiation by researching salaries, benefits, and other opportunities for flexibility.
    • Research graduate programs to determine the competitive applicant profile, including GPA, prerequisite coursework, and entrance exam scores.
    • Attend Engineering Internship/Career Fairs.

    Excel
    MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNING
    • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor a semester before your anticipated graduation to ensure all graduation requirements will be met. 
    • Choose Engineering electives relevant to your preferred post-graduation opportunities.
    • Declare any possible outstanding minors for which you may already have credit (Math, Chemistry.)
    GET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITY
    BUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCE
    • Read scholarly articles about diversity in your field.
    • Reflect on your own cultural competency, and be prepared to answer interview questions that outline how you have worked with diverse populations.
    • Continue to explore cultures beyond your own through scholarly and recreational avenues.
    • Visit the Museum District’s many offerings, such as the VMFA and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
    GET REAL EXPERIENCE
    • Reflect on the experiential learning you have engaged in thus far, and discuss with current or potential mentors (peers, faculty, advisors, alumni, professionals).
    • Continue to engage in research to create more content for your ePortfolio.
    • Present your research at conference/meeting such as UROP Undergraduate Research Symposium or other conferences. 
    • Gain practical experience through internships, externships and skill building.
    PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
    • Complete exams, applications, or self-marketing activities for after graduation.
    • Consider training to become an educator through programs like RTR, which prepares graduates from a variety of majors to become effective teachers in high-need schools.
    • Research prospective employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation.
    • Have a personal statement or cover letter reviewed and do a mock interview with your Career Services office. 
    • Engage with the VCU Alumni Association at Grad Fair, Grad Bash, and by joining a VCULink Industry Network and alumni chapter as you prepare to graduate.
    • Attend Engineering Internship/Career Fairs.
    Visit majormaps.vcu.edu for the online version with links.
    Sponsored by the Office of the Provost
    Major map compass icon [View Image]
    2019-2020

    Chemical and life science engineering

    College of Engineering

    Concentration(s):
    Chemical engineering, life science engineering
    MAXIMIZE COURSE AND DEGREE PLANNINGGET CONNECTED WITH YOUR COMMUNITYBUILD CULTURAL COMPETENCEGET REAL EXPERIENCEPREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER COLLEGE
    ExploreYear 1
    • Explore “What Can I Do With This Major” to learn about employers in your field of study.
    • Build a LinkedIn profile, connect to at least 10 people, and check out the VCU alumni page.
    • Join Students Today Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) to connect to VCU traditions, networking opportunities, and fellow Rams.
    • Access your free credit report and begin making responsible credit choices to prepare for your future.
    • Attend Engineering Internship/Career Fairs.
    ExperienceYear 2
    • Get familiar with the research process with the VCU Libraries Research Basics Guide. Ask questions about how to use the library.
    • Schedule an appointment with your advisor and explore minors, certificates, and skills-based value added courses.  
    • Talk to your professors about research interests, picking future classes, and strategies for success in your program.
    • Continue progression in engineering, math, chemistry, and physics.
    • Consider short-term, semester and year-long Study Abroad opportunities.
    • Get to know other VCU students and meet new friends from all over the world at a monthly Global Café.
    • Join a cultural or identity-related organization.
    • Identify ways in which you are culturally uninformed. Begin to learn the historical and current events that have shaped cultures to which you have been underexposed.
    • Complete a “Gap Analysis” Strategic Plan with your academic or career advisor.
    • Gain practical experience related to career goals through internships, shadowing, part-time work, or independent skill building.
    • Create an ePortfolio to document academic/professional experiences, accomplishments, and reflections.
    • Attend Career & Internship Fairs and other professional development events. 
    • Work with Advising and Career Services to incorporate a co-op, internship or VIP Team into your curriculum.
    • Get plugged into VCULink to connect with students and alumni.
    • Conduct informational interviews or shadow someone in a field of career interest.
    • Consider who you would ask to serve as professional and academic references for future letters of recommendation.   
    • Meet with a coach at The Money Spot to set financial goals, understand student loans, and create spending plans.
    • Consider attending a national career fair (SWE, SHPE, NSBE) to gain exposure to more employers.
    Year 3
    • See your academic and career advisors regularly to discuss your progress towards graduation and career planning.
    • Enhance your business, software, technology and creative skills using LinkedIn Learning.
    • Deepen your expertise at finding information in your discipline by working with your subject expert librarian & using research guides.
    • See your advisor to discuss track selection.
    • Attend or present a poster at a scientific meeting or conference.
    • Apply to be a Diversity Ambassador with the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.
    • Richmond is known for hosting a wide array of festivals! Learn about new cultures, food, and music by attending one of these events.
    • Update your resume to include how you have developed your communication and interpersonal skills for future work on multidisciplinary and multicultural teams.
    • Participate in culturally diverse events both at VCU and beyond.
    • Practice communication and interpersonal skills that embrace cultural differences, particularly in professional settings.
    • Talk to advisors, faculty, and Career Services about graduate school versus a job.
    • Research graduate/professional schools at least 1 year in advance of deadlines. Study for and complete any exams the summer before senior year. 
    • Prepare for job offer negotiation by researching salaries, benefits, and other opportunities for flexibility.
    • Research graduate programs to determine the competitive applicant profile, including GPA, prerequisite coursework, and entrance exam scores.
    • Attend Engineering Internship/Career Fairs.
    ExcelYear 4
    • Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor a semester before your anticipated graduation to ensure all graduation requirements will be met. 
    • Choose Engineering electives relevant to your preferred post-graduation opportunities.
    • Declare any possible outstanding minors for which you may already have credit (Math, Chemistry.)
    • Read scholarly articles about diversity in your field.
    • Reflect on your own cultural competency, and be prepared to answer interview questions that outline how you have worked with diverse populations.
    • Continue to explore cultures beyond your own through scholarly and recreational avenues.
    • Visit the Museum District’s many offerings, such as the VMFA and the Virginia Museum of History and Culture.
    • Reflect on the experiential learning you have engaged in thus far, and discuss with current or potential mentors (peers, faculty, advisors, alumni, professionals).
    • Continue to engage in research to create more content for your ePortfolio.
    • Present your research at conference/meeting such as UROP Undergraduate Research Symposium or other conferences. 
    • Gain practical experience through internships, externships and skill building.
    • Complete exams, applications, or self-marketing activities for after graduation.
    • Consider training to become an educator through programs like RTR, which prepares graduates from a variety of majors to become effective teachers in high-need schools.
    • Research prospective employers and create a job or graduate school search strategy at least 8 months before graduation.
    • Have a personal statement or cover letter reviewed and do a mock interview with your Career Services office. 
    • Engage with the VCU Alumni Association at Grad Fair, Grad Bash, and by joining a VCULink Industry Network and alumni chapter as you prepare to graduate.
    • Attend Engineering Internship/Career Fairs.
    View graphic version