October 30, 2009

Operations laboratory in 1939
Students working in the unit operations laboratory in 1939 - the year chemical engineering moved to the Dana Engineering Building.

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By Sam Alcorn

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Chemical engineering at Bucknell University is 100 years old, nearly as old as the discipline itself.

Bucknell first offered a chemical engineering degree in 1909. The first class of four graduates received their Bachelor of Science degrees in chemical engineering four years later in 1913.

Today, the Class of 2012, which is the program's 100th, has 29 students majoring in chemical engineering. Having graduated its first female chemical engineer in 1923, women continue to have a strong presence in the program, accounting for 35 percent of the program's student population.

12 full-time faculty
The Department of Chemical Engineering has 12 full-time faculty positions — all holding doctorate degrees.

"Bucknell's chemical engineering program was born and continues to thrive at the unique intersection of technology and the ideals of a liberal arts education," said Jeffrey Csernica, professor of chemical engineering and chair of the department. "We're proud to be part of a program that has been in existence since the early days of the discipline itself.  This occasion gives us a chance to reflect on the foresight of our program founders and the work of many who came after them. We look forward to building on that foundation as we embark on a second century of contributions and leadership within chemical engineering education."

In addition, an article about the program's centennial mark has been prepared for the winter edition of the journal of Chemical Engineering Education.

Philadelphia reception
The anniversary was kicked off last fall with a reception in Philadelphia at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, which was also celebrating their own centennial.

It was in response to the industrial revolution and rapidly growing urban population that Trustee William Bucknell, for whom the University is named, and others, sought to expand the scope of the University in the late 1800s. A free-standing chemical laboratory was dedicated in 1890, paving the way for the creation of the chemical engineering program.

When the second wing of the Dana Engineering Building was completed in 1939, chemical engineering was moved to their new home.

More chemical engineering information is available at quick facts.

Contact: Division of Communications