B. Frank Gupton, Ph.D.
Research professor and chair

Chemical and life science engineering represents the formal interaction of chemical engineering with the life sciences. VCU’s Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering is uniquely poised to bring these two premier disciplines together to form a program distinct in the nation. Programs are offered at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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.

The bachelor’s program offers tracks in chemical engineering and life science engineering, and a chemical and life science engineering track is available in the Master of Science in Engineering program, as well as the Ph.D. in Engineering program. The CLSE tracks in the graduate-level programs are designed primarily for students who are interested in applying chemical and engineering principles toward important contemporary topics including process design, metabolic engineering, biosensor and biochip development, high-performance polymers in medicine and energy conversion, polymer surface science, and environmentally benign polymer processing technologies. Major emphasis is placed on chemical and life science engineering fundamentals with additional emphasis on applied chemistry and life sciences.

 

Chemical and Life Science Engineering, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with a concentration in:

Chemical and Life Science Engineering

CLSE   101. Introduction to Engineering. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: course open to first-year students majoring in chemical and life science engineering. Introduction to chemical and life science engineering. Topics covered include ethics and social responsibility; engineering design process; engineering solutions; estimations and approximations; dimensions, units and conversions; mathematics and computer solutions; life-long learning; introduction to the interface between engineering, biology and medicine.

CLSE   102. Methods in CLSE. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Prerequisite: CLSE   101. An introduction to problem formulation and solution methods for chemical and life science engineering. Typical chemical and life science engineering scenarios will be presented. Emphasis will be placed on identifying and formulating problems based on presented scenarios.

CLSE   115. Introduction to Programming for Chemical and Life Science Engineering. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisite: MATH   200. Introduction to the concepts and practice of structured programming. Topics include problem-solving, top-down design of algorithms, objects, basic syntax, control structures, functions and arrays.

CLSE   201. Chemical Engineering Fundamentals I: Material Balances. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 1 recitation hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   115, CHEM   102 and MATH   201. The first of two introductory chemical and life science engineering courses. Covers material balances on steady-state chemical processes.

CLSE   202. Chemical Engineering Fundamentals II: Energy Balances and Engineering Thermodynamics. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 1 recitation hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   201 with a minimum grade of C, CHEM   101-102 and MATH   200-201 or equivalents. The second of two introductory chemical and life science engineering courses. Covers energy balances on steady-state chemical processes, computer-aided balance calculations, balances on transient processes and introduction to thermodynamics.

CLSE   301. Transport Phenomena I. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   202, PHYS   208 and MATH   301. Basic concepts of transport phenomena as applied to chemical and life science engineering. Topics include transport of mass momentum and energy in single and multidimensions.

CLSE   302. Transport Phenomena II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   301 and 305. Concepts of transport phenomena as applied to chemical and life science engineering. Topics include advanced multicomponent, multiphase systems, integral analysis, and an integrated view of momentum, heat and mass transport in unit operations.

CLSE   305. Thermodynamics of Phase Equilibria and Chemical Reactions. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   115, 201, and 202, MATH   307. Thermodynamic properties of fluids and mixtures, partial molar quantities, phase equilibria, activity coefficients and correlations, equations-of-state, chemical reaction equilibria for liquid, vapor and multiphase reactions, and the use of equations-of-state and activity/fugacity correlations to obtain the thermodynamic functions required for the calculation of chemical reaction equilibrium constants. Computing using Excel VBA are a required component of this course.

CLSE   306. Industrial Applications of Inorganic Chemistry. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CHEM   302 and CHEZ   302. A study and analysis of the most important industrial applications of inorganic chemistry, with emphasis on structure/properties correlation, material and energy balances, availability and logistics of starting materials, economic impact and environmental effects. Crosslisted as: CHEM   306.

CLSE   312. Chemical Reaction Engineering. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   301 and 305. Introduces the student to the analysis of reactors via coupling of empirical reaction rates and thermodynamic constraints with reactor material and energy balances. The behavior of the ideal reactor types (batch, CSTR and PFR) is emphasized with attention given to departure from these ideals by real systems.

CLSE   320. Instrumentation Laboratory. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 6 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   301 and CLSE   305. This laboratory introduces students to a variety of measurement instruments used in modern chemical engineering laboratories and process plants. Detailed laboratory reports are required for each of the experiments undertaken by the students.

CLSE   325. Bioengineering. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   201 and BIOL   151 or BIOL   152. An introductory and survey level course required for all chemical engineering students. This course introduces concepts and principles of chemical engineering to problems and issues in the life sciences, biotechnology and medicine. Students apply heat and mass transfer concepts, separations and controls to topics that include clinical diagnostics, bioanalytical instrumentation, biosensors and biochips, bioprocess engineering including fermentation, biochemical pathway engineering, protein folding and aggregation, bioreactors and tissue engineering.

CLSE   402. Senior Design Studio I (Laboratory/Project Time). 2 Hours.

Semester course; 6 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: senior standing in chemical and life science engineering and participation in a senior design (capstone) project; CLSE   301, 302, 305 and 312. A minimum of six laboratory hours per week dedicated to the execution phase of the senior design (capstone) project, which should meet appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints. Tasks include team meetings, brainstorming, sponsor advising, designing, fabrications, assembling, reviewing, studying, researching, testing and validating projects.

CLSE   403. Senior Design Studio II (Laboratory/Project Time). 2 Hours.

Semester course; 6 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: senior standing in chemical and life science engineering and participation in a senior design (capstone) project; CLSE   402. A minimum of six laboratory hours per week dedicated to the execution phase of the senior design (capstone) project, which should meet appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints. Tasks include team meetings, brainstorming, sponsor advising, designing, fabrications, assembling, reviewing, studying, researching, testing and validating projects.

CLSE   405. Process Synthesis. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   302, 305 and 312. A senior technical elective. Students synthesize flowsheets for existing and newly proposed chemical and biochemical products. Quantitative tools learned in earlier courses are used to examine the technical and economic feasibility of the flowsheets. Written bi-weekly status reports are required from each student and each student completes a process synthesis and analysis as a semester project.

CLSE   409. Process Control in Chemical and Life Science Engineering. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   301 and 305. Covers process control as applied to chemical and life science engineering with many practical examples. Topics include time and frequency domain analysis, multivariable processes and applications to chemical and biochemical production and processing.

CLSE   428. Introduction to Polymer Science and Engineering. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   302, 305 and 312, and CHEM   302, or equivalents. A senior technical elective. The course offers an introduction to the chemistry, physical properties and processing of polymers. Topics include step and chain polymerization, structure/property relationships, mechanical properties of plastics and elastomers, solution properties, methods for polymer characterization, and processing techniques.

CLSE   440. Unit Operations Laboratory. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 6 laboratory hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: CLSE   302, 305 and 312. Students carry out experiments with chemical and biochemical reactors, energy exchangers, fluid flow networks and other unit operations. Detailed laboratory reports are required for each of the experiments undertaken.

CLSE   450. Undergraduate Research in Chemical and Life Science Engineering. 1-6 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. Up to 6 credits. Undergraduate research under the supervision of a faculty member. Specific topics vary depending on the interests of the student and the adviser. Registration requires approval of the student's academic adviser and research adviser.

CLSE   460. Undergraduate Honors Research in Life Sciences Engineering. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; 1-3 lecture hours. 1-3 credits. Corequisites: BIOL 218, CLSE   302. An undergraduate honors research course for academically talented juniors and seniors requiring advanced work and an honors thesis on a topic relevant to life sciences engineering. Topics and credit hours will be chosen in consultation with a sponsoring faculty member.

CLSE   461. Stem Cell Engineering. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOL 218, CLSE   302. The production and behavior of adult and embryonic stem cells are studied and potential applications for the treatment of disease are surveyed. Stem cell engineering techniques including parthenogenesis, nuclear transfer stem cells and embryonic carcinoma cells are introduced. The use of stem and germ cells for cloning is covered, and ethical considerations involving the use of embryonic human stem cells are discussed.

Engineering

ENGR   101. Introduction to Engineering. 4 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture and 3 laboratory hours. 4 credits. Prerequisites: admission to the School of Engineering or permission of instructor. Introduces basic circuits including resistors, diodes, transistors, digital gates and motors. Simple electromechanical systems are considered including motors, gears and wheels. The laboratory introduces fundamental circuit testing and measurement, and proper laboratory notebook writing; students are required to analyze, build and test a digitally controlled robot.

ENGR   121. Engineering Fundamentals. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. Open only to non-engineering majors in Certificate in Product Innovation program. Introduces engineering fundamentals to students from non-engineering disciplines. Particular focus is the engineering problem-solving process as applied to open-ended problems. Students will be introduced to the different types of engineering, examine engineering issues and apply the engineering problem-solving process.

ENGR   291. Special Topics in Engineering. 1-5 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-5 credits. Prerequisite: to be determined by the instructor. Specialized topics in engineering designed to provide a topic not covered by an existing course or program. General engineering or multidisciplinary. May be repeated with different content. Graded as pass/fail or normal letter grading at the option of the instructor. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

ENGR   296. Part-time Internship Experience. 0 Hours.

Semester course; 0 credit. Students may attempt this course a total of six times. Enrollment restricted to School of Engineering majors. The student works part time in an approved internship and must work a minimum of 90 hours, but less than 300 hours during the semester. The student works to meet learning objectives while gaining practical experience relevant to their major. The student completes assignments to document, assess and reflect on their learning experience. The supervisor and student both complete evaluations of the learning experience. Graded pass/fail.

ENGR   303. Junior Seminar. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisite: permission of instructor. This course provides students an opportunity to explore business and leadership topics. Topics include the fundamentals of product design and new product development, manufacturing and quality systems, finances and financial reports, ethics in the workplace, intellectual property, teamwork, leadership and communications. Students will be assigned selected readings, written compositions and oral presentations. This course prepares the student to participate in the Engineering Laboratory/Manufacturing Internship.

ENGR   395. Professional Development. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Restricted to School of Engineering majors. Professional development course to help prepare students to find a job and succeed in a professional environment, and specifically to work as an intern or in a cooperative education position. Topics covered include career paths; job searches; resume and cover letter writing; preparing for the interview; personal assessment of interests, values and strengths; networking; professional and ethical behavior on the job; overview of legal issues related to hiring, such as nondisclosure agreements and noncompete clauses; overview of personal finance management at the first job; workplace safety; and expectations and requirements for internships and cooperative education positions.

ENGR   396. Internship Experience. 0 Hours.

Semester course; 0 credit. Students may attempt this course a total of three times. Enrollment restricted to School of Engineering majors. The student works in an approved internship and must work a minimum of 300 hours during the semester. The student works to meet learning objectives while gaining practical experience relevant to their major. The student completes assignments to document, assess and reflect on their learning experience. The supervisor and student both complete evaluations of the learning experience. Graded pass/fail.

ENGR   398. Cooperative Education Experience. 0 Hours.

Semester course; 0 credits. Students may attempt this course a total of four times. Prerequisite: ENGR   395. Restricted to School of Engineering majors in good academic standing. The student works full-time in an approved cooperative education position. The student works to meet specific learning objectives while gaining practical experience relevant to their major. The student completes assignments to document, assess and reflect on their learning experience. The supervisor/mentor and student both complete midterm and final evaluations of the learning experience. Graded pass/fail.

ENGR   399. Cooperative Education Experience II. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 credits. Prerequisite: ENGR   398. Restricted to School of Engineering majors in good academic standing. A student that has completed at least one work term in a full-time approved cooperative education position completes an additional full-time work term. The student works to meet specific learning objectives while gaining practical experience relevant to their major. The student completes assignments to document, assess and reflect on their learning experience. The supervisor/mentor and student both complete midterm and final evaluations of the learning experience.

ENGR   402. Senior Design Studio (Seminar). 1 Hour.

Continuous courses; 1 lecture hour. 1-1 credit. Prerequisites: senior standing and participation in a senior design (capstone) project; completion of ENGR   402 to enroll in ENGR   403. This weekly seminar presents and discusses topics relevant to senior-level engineering students in support of the capstone project and upcoming graduation. A single course coordinator manages and administers the course and schedules the various faculty lectures and guest speakers. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following: proposal writing, project planning and management, scheduling resources and budgeting for technical projects, patents and intellectual property, quality systems (six sigma, ISO standards, statistical process control), entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and professional registration.

ENGR   403. Senior Design Studio (Seminar). 1 Hour.

Continuous courses; 1 lecture hour. 1-1 credit. Prerequisites: senior standing and participation in a senior design (capstone) project; completion of ENGR   402 to enroll in ENGR   403. This weekly seminar presents and discusses topics relevant to senior-level engineering students in support of the capstone project and upcoming graduation. A single course coordinator manages and administers the course and schedules the various faculty lectures and guest speakers. Topics include, but are not limited to, the following: proposal writing, project planning and management, scheduling resources and budgeting for technical projects, patents and intellectual property, quality systems (six sigma, ISO standards, statistical process control), entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation and professional registration.

ENGR   410. Review of Internship. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 credit. Prerequisites: chemical, electrical and computer, or mechanical engineering major and experience to satisfy the engineering internship requirements. Students complete oral presentations and written reports summarizing the internship experience.

ENGR   411. Fundamentals of Engineering Exam Preparation. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Prerequisite: senior or graduate standing, or permission of instructor. This course prepares students for taking the fundamentals of Engineering Exam. Passing the FE Exam is the first step to getting a Professional Engineering license. This course is not intended to teach the various subject matters, but to review the subject areas and help students prepare as well as possible for the examination.

ENGR   490. Engineering Seminar. 1-3 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-3 credits. May be repeated with different content. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. A series of specialized topics in engineering that are of general interest but not covered by an existing course or program. Lectures will be presented in seminar format by speakers from business, industry, government and academia. Subjects will be multidisciplinary in nature. Graded as pass/fail or normal letter grading at the option of the instructor.

ENGR   491. Special Topics in Engineering. 1-5 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-5 credits. Prerequisite: determined by the instructor. Specialized topics in engineering designed to provide a topic not covered by an existing course or program. General engineering or multidisciplinary. May be repeated with different content. Graded as pass/fail or normal letter grading at the option of the instructor. See the Schedule of Classes for specific topics to be offered each semester and prerequisites.

ENGR   492. Independent Study in Engineering. 1-5 Hours.

Semester course; variable hours. 1-5 credits. May be repeated with different content. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Students must submit a written proposal to be approved by the supervising instructor prior to registration. Investigation of specialized engineering problems that are multidisciplinary or of general interest through literature search, mathematical analysis, computer simulation and/or laboratory experimentation. Written and oral progress reports as well as a final report and presentation are required. Graded as pass/fail or normal letter grading at the option of the instructor.

ENGR   496. Internship Review. 0 Hours.

Semester course; 0 credits. Prerequisite: ENGR   296 or ENGR   396. Restricted to School of Engineering majors. This course is to be taken following the completion of a minimum of 300 hours of approved internship experience relevant to the student’s major and documents that a student has fulfilled all internship requirements, including a final evaluation by the employer, a final self-evaluation, a final report describing the experience and a final oral presentation about the experience. Graded pass/fail.

ENGR   497. Vertically Integrated Projects. 1,2 Hour.

Semester course; 3 or 6 laboratory hours. 1 or 2 credits. May be repeated for a maximum total of 8 credits Prerequisites: permission of the project faculty adviser. This course provides undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in multiyear, multidisciplinary projects under the guidance of faculty and graduate students in their areas of expertise. As they address research and development issues, students learn and practice many different professional skills, make substantial technical contributions to the project, and experience many different roles on a large, multidisciplinary design/discovery team. Students must earn a minimum of 4 credits in ENGR   497 with a minimum grade of C in order for these credits to be eligible to count toward a technical or departmental elective. More restrictive requirements may be imposed by individual departments.

ENGR   498. Review of Cooperative Education Experience. 0 Hours.

Semester course; 0 credits. Prerequisite: ENGR   398. Restricted to School of Engineering majors. This course is completed following the final work term of a cooperative education experience and is required to obtain transcript notation to document that a student has fulfilled all the requirements of the school’s cooperative education program. The requirements include a final evaluation by the employer, a final self-evaluation, a final report describing the experience and a final oral presentation about the experience.