Department Activity Report


Chemical Engineering


Review Year 2002








Prepared Spring 2003





The mission of our program is to engage and prepare students for professional careers which require command of the principles of Chemical Engineering. We will focus on the development of complete engineers who can foster innovation through know-how and champion ideas through effective communication. We will deliver a thorough education with insightful teaching, an innovative curriculum, research opportunities, summer job experiences, and channels for permanent, successful careers. All of our efforts are done in the context of providing the human and technical resources critical to enhancing the vitality of the State of New Mexico and the people and businesses that thrive within this region. Like our counterparts in industry, we recognize that achievement of our mission can only be accomplished by continual self-assessment and actions to improve.


Key 2002 Accomplishments:


  1. Enrollment:  Exceeds 1998 5 year plan projection (Fall 2002: 78) 
  2. Research: 3.5 FTE published 10 peer reviewed technical articles (or 2.9/FTE).
  3. Research: $270k in annualized research grant expenditures (or 77k$/FTE)
  4. Educational:  New Fuel Cell Technology Course Offered
  5. Educational:  Established Chemical Engineering Program Fund to support Students
  6. Assessment:  Addressed all 2001 Advisory Board Recommended Actions

7.     Assessment:  Drafted ABET EAC 2000 Assessment Plan Ü Board Approved


Program Assessment:


To achieve the objectives outlined in the Chemical Engineering Mission statement, we have developed a fairly extensive list of assessment tools including:


  Outside review by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Board

  Annual outside review by the NMT Chemical Engineering Advisory Board

  Objective-based Course and Lab Evaluations

  Senior Design Review and Assessment

  EIT Professional Engineering Exam

  Alumni Surveys


In the fall of 2001, the Chemical Engineering Program underwent an extensive review by ABET-EAC.  The results of the review were exceedingly strong.  The visiting ABET team noted that the program appears to have the critical elements in place for a successful ABET 2000 review.  The next review is scheduled for fall 2004.  The Chemical Engineering Advisory Board convened in both the spring and fall of 2002 to review the progress of the program and set recommendations for the program to pursue.  The board sets actions for the coming year defining both champions and timeframe.  The 2002 actions are described in the Short Term Goals section.   In addition to the Advisory Board both long and short term Departmental goals are guided by feedback from Alumni Surveys, Teaching Evaluations (mostly on an individual basis), and results of the FE exam. The faculty is also guided by the comments of New MexicoÍs industrial representatives who participate in the annual review of the Senior Design Projects.


Report Outline:


The Department Activity Report (DAR) is divided into long and short term goals.   Long term goals were laid out in the 1998 Five-Year Plan while short term goals are defined annually.  Each of the long term goals is identified in italics. 


Long Term Enrollment Goals:


The Chemical Engineering Program will continue its steady growth over the next five years to a total enrollment of between 75 and 80 undergraduates by the fall of 2003. 


As shown in the chart below, enrollment has continued to grow on pace with the projections from the 5 year plan developed in 1998.  The growth trends are largely due to the aggressive, individual recruiting efforts, outstanding advising, and strong employment opportunities for NMT ChE graduates.  Our web page survey continues to receive at least 1 response per week of which 50% come from within the state of New Mexico.  Each survey is responded to with a personal follow-up email from the Chairman.  The department has set a new 5 year goal of 100 students by the Fall 2008.



Figure 1.    Current and Expected Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Enrollment

Long Term Educational Goals:


We will deliver a thorough education with insightful teaching, an innovative curriculum, research opportunities, summer job experiences, and channels for permanent, successful careers.


As of the fall 2002, NM Tech has awarded 51 BS Chemical Engineering degrees.  Virtually all, 98%, of these graduates are employed in Science/Engineering disciplines or have entered Graduate School.  From our alumni surveys, forty percent of our graduates attend graduate school, 90% reported having a engineering/technical summer job experience, 75% reported having a meaningful research experience of one semester or more while at Tech.  The major areas of employment for our graduates include national labs, semiconductor, and oil & gas, which largely reflects the employment base of the State of New Mexico.


One measure of our success in developing ñcomplete engineersî is benchmarking our students morning session FE exam scores with ChE students from around the nation.  Figure 2 below shows the average score for our ChE students minus the national average in each subject.  The results indicate relative weaknesses and strengths in our curriculum compared to other schools.  First, it should be noted that nationally only 18% of Chemical Engineering students sit for the FE exam, compared to 100% of the students at NM Tech.  Presently, 65% of the NM Tech ChE students pass the FE compared to 85% nationally.  The departmental goal is to increase this pass rate to 75%.  According to Figure 2, NM Tech ChE students are relatively weak in mathematics, engineering dynamics, and thermodynamics. 

Figure 2.    NM Tech ChE average FE subject score minus the national average.

Long Term Research Goals:


The Chemical Engineering program faculty will continue to contribute to the graduate research activities on the campus although no formal graduate program exists.


Despite the purely undergraduate nature of the Chemical Engineering Department, we continue one of the highest levels of research activity per capita on campus.  In 2002, our 3.5 FTE produced 10 published papers. The 2002 peer reviewed journal article publication rate of 2.9/FTE is one of the most productive on campus.  No MS degrees were awarded by Chemical Engineering faculty in 2002, however, looking forward to 2003, 4 MS candidates are planning to defend this year.  The five year goal is to bring the graduate population to 9 (that is grad. Students advised by Chemical Engineering faculty).  At present, 5 graduate students are advised by ChE faculty, representing an increase of 1 over the previous year.  One tracking measurement of our ability to attain the 9 grad student goal is the annualized grant dollars received for any particular year.  Annuallized grants received by Chemical Engineering faculty increased from 217k$ in 2001 to 270k$ in 2002.   To improve this mark, the young faculty Dr.Ís Dong and Jeon will be continue to mentored regarding grantsmanship.


Within the five year time frame, it would be imprudent to expect New Mexico Tech to sacrifice the additional resources (particularly faculty positions) to support a graduate program in Chemical Engineering.  However, with current formula funding levels, a graduate program is the only practical means of becoming a self-sufficient or viable program.  The administration must find some means to fully reward the research and graduate student contributions of the Chemical Engineering faculty so that it can establish viability without demanding additional resources for a formal graduate program.

Short Term Goals for 2002:


The short term goals and actions for 2002 were presented in the 2002 Department Activity Report are outlined in the Table below along with progress toward these goals. 





Recommended Action



Status as of Fall 2002


Seek Additional Laboratory Space for Chemical Engineering Program.


Owner:  Weinkauf

No additional lab or office space has been allocated within MSEC for the growing ChE program within the past two years.  Dr. Dong occupies the former office space of Dr. Truesdel, but no research space has been allocated for his use.  Currently, Dr. Dong is temporarily housed in PETR teaching lab and a lab in PRRC.   A Banner classroom use study conducted for MSEC 2nd floor classrooms clearly shows low use of the ample EES teaching space.  Report submitted to EES Chair citing ñlow useî and proposal to commit one-half of a large teaching room to Chemical Engineering.  Report discussed by EES faculty Ü No Action Taken.  Future additions to the ChE faculty will worsen the space crunch in MSEC.


Action forwarded to 2003.



Formalize the EAC 2000 ABET Accreditation Plan


Owners:  Board, Faculty, Chair

Draft written (8/02).  Input from Faculty (9/02).  Input from Advisory Board (10/02).  Input from Engineering Chairs (11-12/02).  New Plan will be posted on web for an additional comment period.



Expand curriculum to include Fuel Cell Technology.


Owner: Dong


$20k Fuel Cell Test Stand incorporated into Unit Operations course.  Dr. Dong taught ChE 489 Fuel Cell Technology in the Fall 2002.  Adopted into the catalog as ChE 470 in Fall 2002.


Encourage Development of Young Faculty.


Owner:  Weinkauf


Dong and Jeon attend NSF/ASEE Summer School for Chemical Engineering Faculty (7/02).


Develop Chemical Engineering High School visit demonstration lecture

Fuel Cell Demonstration device has been design for mobility.  In February 2003, the fuel cell demonstration device was run in the Rotunda of the NM State Capitol. 



Develop what do Chemical Engineers Do?  Section of Website

Alumni have been contacted.  Several descriptions of the every day working world experiences of NMTech ChE alumni have been assembled.  Posting of the Website Seciton will be in 2003.



Revamp Summer Short Course



Dr. Junhang Dong revamped the ChE Short Course in Summer 2002.


Develop more structured ties with Materials and Evironmental Engineering Graduate Programs.


ChE faculty advise 5 graduate students from the Materials and Evironmental Engineering Graduate Programs.  In 2003, we hope to get adjunct faculty status in each program in order to advise thesis credits within each program. 



Increase representation in ACS and AIChE on national level



In 2002, NM Tech faculty delivered 3 national AIChE and 3 national ACS papers.  NMTech has had student representatives at each of the past seven annual AIChE national meetings. 




Short Term Goals 2003:


  1. Complete first cycle of ABET 2000 Assessment Process Ü Close Loop Fall 2003.
  2. Secure additional lab space for growing research and faculty needs.
  3. Increase to 4.0 FTE faculty within the program.
  4. Continue to develop grantsmanship and teaching skills of younger faculty.
  5. Address poor quality of graduate students available to the program.
  6. Develop new 5 year plan.