Department Activity Report


Chemical Engineering


Prepared Spring 2004




Don Weinkauf

 Chemical Engineering Chair




Key 2003 Accomplishments:


      Assessment:  Completed All Loops on the ABET 2000 Assessment Process

      Assessment:  Addressed all 2002 Advisory Board Recommended Actions



Quote from Fall 2003 Advisory Board Report:


"The University and Chemical Engineering faculty have done an amazing job in building an aggressive, vibrant undergraduate chemical engineering program....  The NM Tech, Chemical Engineering Department is currently the best undergraduate program of universities in New Mexico.  Department objectives and goals are well defined and processes are actively pursued to do the self-assessments and needed follow-ups.  Results of future ABET reviews should be positive and supportive."



 Chemical Engineering Program Mission:


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.


Program and Educational Objectives


Program Objectives:


1.              We will foster insightful classroom and laboratory experiences enhanced by the presence of students with solid educational backgrounds, lead by strong teaching from engaging faculty.


2.              We will together with our students, administration, industrial supporters, and other constituents (as both individuals and as a team), foster an environment of continual self-assessment and improvement.


Educational Objectives:


1.              We will develop complete engineers who can:  solve problems, experiment, innovate, be resourceful, and champion ideas through effective communication.


2.              We will engender an understanding of the broad reach of a modern Chemical Engineering education and the array of knowledge required to implement solutions which will benefit our society.


3.              We will provide a conduit to successful careers in the spectrum of fields which benefit from a command of the principles of Chemical Engineering.


4.              We will foster a life long love of learning, opening doors to graduate study and enabling graduates to adapt to changes and opportunities in the profession.



Report Table of Contents                                                                page

Recommended Actions and Ownership for 2004                                  4

                  Programmatic Goals for 2004                                              4

                  Educational Goals for 2004                                                 4

Faculty Development: Teaching                                                          5

Faculty Development:  Research                                                         5

Enrollment                                                                                         6

Quality of Freshmen                                                                           6

Short Term Goals for 2003 and Current Status                                   7

Educational Objectives Summary                                                       9

Educational Objectives Report                                                          11

                  FE Exam Results                                                              11

                  Placement Statistics                                                           12

                  Recent Graduate Survey Results                                         12

                  Outside Review of Design Presentations                              13

Summary of Chemical Engineering Assessment Plan                         14




Recommended Actions and Ownership for 2004:


Programmatic Objectives:

      Carry Over:  Solidify plan to increase ñbodies' involved with Chemical Engineering students (FTE = 4.0) Owner Weinkauf/Gerity

      Carry Over:  Initiate ñReal' Space and Utilization Dialogue with all Dept's in building - Owner Weinkauf/Gerity/MSEC Dept.'s

      Reinvigorate Freshmen Recruiting Plan - Goal of 20 New ChE Fall 2004 - Owner:  Jeon/Dong

      Formalize faculty status with Materials/Environmental/Chemisty to receive full FTE credit for ChE level of graduate advising.  Owner:  Dong/Gerity

      Attain the highest publication rate of all programs on campus for 2004 (SCI pubs/FTE).  Owner:  ChE Faculty

      Increase annualized research expenditures rate (k$/FTE) by 10%. Owner:  ChE Faculty

      Continue to Assess Program and Assessment Plan:  Owner: Advisory Board/Weinkauf


Educational Objectives:

      Conduct FE Style Math and Thermo Exams on Jrs/Srs to assess specific weaknesses in the curriculum.  Communicate results to ES and Math faculty.  Owner:  Jeon (Timeline:  Report by Spring Advisory Board Meeting)

      Examine curriculum for areas to improve students exposure to statistical analysis and Design of Experiments.  Owner:  Dong

      Develop plan to increase Fr/So awareness of the field and opportunities within Chemical Engineering.  ES110?  Stronger seminar program?  Include alumni stories on Web?  Owner:  Weinkauf



Faculty Development:  Teaching  


From a review of the individual teaching evaluations for each instructor in the program, the average overall teaching score is improved over last year.  As shown below, the average teaching score for 2003 is 4.15, compared to 3.99 in 2002.  During this period, the number of student credit hours taught in both the graduate and undergraduate levels increased substantially. 


























Total Undergrad Student Credit Hrs



9 %

Total Graduate

Student Credit




54 %



Faculty Development:  Research


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 2003, our 3.5 FTE produced 10 published papers.  According to the Materials Engineering SCI statistics, the Chemical Enigneering program over the past three years has the second highest SCI publication rate on campus (1.52 publications/FTE).  This is level of publication is second only to Earth and Envr. Sci Dept. with 1.56 pubs/FTE.  Four (4) MS degrees were awarded by the 3.5 FTE Chemical Engineering faculty in 2004.  The MS completion rate of over one per FTE is also one the most productive on campus.


The five year goal (Fall 2005) is to bring the graduate population to 9 (that is grad. Students advised by Chemical Engineering faculty).  At present, 7 graduate students and three (3) post docs are advised by ChE faculty, representing an increase of 2 grad students and two post docs 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.  Annualized grants received by the 3 Chemical Engineering research faculty (Dong, Jeon, and Weinkauf) decreased from 271k$ in 2002 to 241k$ in 2003.  The total represents over 80 k$/FTE.  To improve this mark, the young faculty Dr.'s Dong and Jeon will be continue to mentored regarding grantsmanship.




1998 Fiver Year Plan:  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.  Fall 2003 enrollment in Chemical Engineering is 74 which is one student below the 5 year plan projections made in 1998.



Figure 1.    Current and Expected Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Enrollment



Quality of Freshmen


As described in the Fall 2003 report, the quality of the entering freshmen remains quite consistent with that of previous years.  The average ACT score for freshmen selecting ChE as their major is 26.4.  Campus-wide the ACT average is 26.2.  The program is in dialog with the Math Department to track the average Math scores for the incoming Chemical Engineering freshmen. 




Short Term Goals for 2003 and Current Status:




Recommended Action



Status as of Fall 2003


Complete first cycle of ABET 2000 Assessment Process Ü Close Loop Fall 2003.

Cycle completed as described in the Program Assessment Plan.  Results thoroughly documented at Program Development Website:

( )



Seek Additional Laboratory Space for Chemical Engineering Program.  (CARRY OVER GOAL from FALL 2002).


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.  Dr. Dong continues to house much of his research equipment and students outside MSEC at the 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 and VP of Academic Affairs citing ñlow use' and proposal to commit one-half of a large teaching room to Chemical Engineering.  Report discussed by EES faculty Ü No Action Taken.  An additional space usage study was conducted showing that EES faculty use 55% more sq ft. per faculty member than PETR/ChE to run a similarly sized department.  Any future expansion of the ChE faculty, grad or undergraduate population will worsen the space crunch in MSEC.


Action forwarded again to 2004.



Increase to 4.0 FTE faculty within the program.


Owners:  Weinkauf / Gerity

With one of the largest student/faculty ratios on campus, discussions with Dr. Gerity suggest that ChE warrants an additional 0.5 FTE faculty.  Plans to accommodate the additional 0.5 FTE to allow for a new full time hire have been pursued.  These plans include moving Bretz to full-time PETR or having Dong be 1/2 joint appointment with PRRC.  Neither of the proposals have been met with complete buy in by the parties involved.




Address poor quality of graduate students available to the program..


Owner: Dong


With strong relationships developing with research collaborators and a proactive stance on reviewing Materials Engineering Grad files, the caliber of the graduate students has increased markedly.  The 3 new grad student additions are performing far above the


Continue to develop grantsmanship and teaching skills of younger faculty.


Owner:  Weinkauf


Grant success has remained mixed.  Dr. Dong has found strong collaboration with PRRC and Sandia.  His participation in major funding projects is an enormous boost to his research activities.  Dr. Jeon needs to develop strong mentors and collaborators in his field.


Educational Objectives Summary:

1.     Develop complete engineers who can:  solve problems, innovate, experiment, be resourceful, and champion ideas through effective communication.

Strengths:  66% of all Chemical Engineers who graduate from New Mexico Tech pass the FE exam.  This compares to approximately 21% of all BS Chemical Engineers nationally (with an 85% pass rate) where taking the exam is largely elective.  NMTech Chemical Engineering alumni rate there technical competence, work experience, and communication skills very high in comparison to their peers in industry and graduate school.  The program's focus on developing technical experience outside of the classroom and design courses (ChE 345L and ChE 461/462) are also highly regarded by alumni. 

Areas to Improve:  Relative weaknesses in mathematics and thermodynamics are noted by the FE exam results.  ChE alumni also feel that there are weaknesses in statistics and design of experiments. 

2.     Engender an understanding of the broad reach of a modern Chemical Engineering education and the array of knowledge required to implement solutions which will benefit our society.

Strengths: From our placement statistics, students are employed in a reasonably broad spectrum of Chemical Engineering fields which reflects the employment base in the region.  Given this array of fields, alumni note a very high confidence in being able to solve problems in their respect technical areas.  Alumni also see how what they are doing in their field connects with society. 

Areas to Improve:  It is clear from both current student interviews and the Recent Graduate Survey, that the program must improve in its ability to convey both the basic and broader nature of the field of Chemical Engineering earlier in the curriculum.  That is to say, the curriculum and program should do a better job of conveying exactly what students can do with a Chemical Engineering background.  With this understanding, students feel that they would use electives more effectively, selecting specific internships, and begin planning for alternative career paths at an earlier stage in their tenure.

3.     Provide a conduit to successful careers in the spectrum of fields which benefit from a command of the principles of Chemical Engineering.

Strengths:  The placement statistics suggest that the Chemical Engineering program is doing a reasonable job of placing students in the spectrum of industrial, government, and graduate study positions.

Areas to Improve:  Career Services at New Mexico Tech needs to be improved.  (This service is greatly hampered by the small size and isolated geographical region of school in attracting company representatives to recruit.)  The program must work toward broadening the placement base to include larger scale employers at the national level.  The program sees an unusually high percentage or perhaps an over-reliance on government-based research lab employment (although it should be noted that these are the dominant employers in the region).

4.     Foster a life long love of learning, opening doors to graduate study and enabling graduates to adapt to changes and opportunities in the profession.

Strengths:  The vast majority of graduates of NMTech Chemical Engineering often read for pleasure and plan on continuing their education in someway.  Thirty seven percent (37%) of our graduates enter graduate study within six months of graduating from NMTech. 

Areas to Improve:  Monitor success of graduates over the long term with reflections on career changes and continuing education.


Educational Objectives Report

 FE Exam Results Summary:

One measure of our success in developing ñcomplete engineers' is benchmarking our students morning session FE exam scores with ChE students from around the nation.  Figure 1 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 21% of Chemical Engineering students sit for the FE exam, compared to 100% of the students at NM Tech.  Presently, 66% of the NM Tech ChE students pass the FE exam.  This compares to approximately 21% of all BS Chemical Engineers nationally (with an 85% pass rate) where taking the exam is largely elective.  The departmental goal is to increase our pass rate to 75%.  Figure 1 shows the difference in the scores between NMTech seniors and BS ChE students nationwide.  The score differences are very strong given the fact that 100% of all NMTech ChE seniors are required to take the exam, whereas it is elective at most universities NM Tech ChE students are relatively weak in mathematics, engineering dynamics, and thermodynamics.  Of the highest concern are the consistently low scores in mathematics and thermodynamics.  Since mechanical dynamics is not a course taken in our curriculum it is less of a concern, however, the ChE 443 lecture should emphasize the connections between chemical and mechanical dynamic models.  Advisors in the curriculum will continue suggest students take the ChE pm exam, so that we can use this as an additional assessment tool in the future.

Figure 1.          Morning FE exam score differences of 29 NMTech ChE seniors from national average of Chemical Engineers in the nation.

Placement Statistics:

The class of 2002-2003 experienced a relatively weak employment market with few options for even the strongest students.  Three of the 14 (21%) are enrolled in graduate school ((2) NMTech explosives program, (1) NCSU Nuclear Engr).  Four of the 14 (29%) are employed in industry:  two working in the Oil and Gas Industry in the Permian Basin and two in pharmaceutical positions out of state. Five of the 14 (36%) are employed in government lab or research positions.  Of these, two are actively seeking graduate school opportunities.  Thus it is expected that within the year, 36% of the 2002-03 graduates will be attending graduate school.  Two out of 14 (14%) report that they are still seeking employment.

The updated placement statistics for all Chemical Engineering graduates immediately following graduation yield the following distribution:

q      37% Attend graduate school*

q      22% Government Laboratory:  Los Alamos, Sandia, LANL, China Lake

q      12% Oil and Gas

q      12% Semiconductor

q      8% Traditional Chemical Engr.:  Food, Engineering Design Firms, Environmental

q      7% Pharmaceuticals

q      3% Seeking Employment



Recent Graduate Survey:

To establish a benchmark, the Recent Graduate Survey was sent to the past three years of graduates.  The Web-based form has received a tremendous amount of input into our program.  The questionnaire is used to gage the students level of technical and soft-skills preparation for their current positions.  The strengths and weaknesses of the program are also probed in an open format.  The survey is attached in Appendix A and a breakdown of the results is shown in Figure 2. 

In summary, the response from our alumni is that they are very well prepared technically for their current positions at a level above their peers.  One hundred percent of the respondents had on-campus and/or off-campus research/internship experience while attending NMTech.  Soft-skill strengths of team building, communication, and awareness are also very strong.  The survey also suggests that our alumni rank very high the likelihood of continuing their educations in some way. 

The Strengths and Weaknesses sections are also illuminating.  Recurring weakness comments include the level of mathematics and statistics exposure or mastery.  Design of experiments is also needed.  The strengths of the program are the level of technical preparation, emphasis on soft-skills, and research/internship opportunities promoted by the faculty.  Interestingly, soft-skills preparation is mentioned as both a strength and weakness suggesting continued emphasis in this area. 


Outside Review of Design Presentations:

Since the inception of the program, outside reviewers have attended the Senior Design Presentations at NMTech.  This year, four senior design teams presented their work on the following topics: 1) San Juan Generating Station Sulfur Removal Retrofit Project, 2) Fischer-Tropsch Process to Make Sulfur-Free Diesel, 3) Economic and Design feasibility Study of an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Power Plant Located at San Juan generating Station, New Mexico, and 4) Hydrogen Production Using Methane Steam Reformation

In attendance were the ChE Faculty (Bretz, Dong, Jeon, Weinkauf), Professor Bob Kuller (Management) and outside reviewers:  Dave Boneau, (Yates Petroleum), Dick Traeger (Sandia), Lincoln Busselle (Intel Corp), Craig Stevenson (Phelps-Dodge), Justine Johannes (Sandia), Jerry Parkinson (Los Alamos), Kevin Honnell (Los Alamos). 

The reviewing panel discussion which followed the presentations made the following observations:

The suggested areas of improvement included:



Summary of Chemical Engineering Assessment Plan:


To achieve the objectives outlined in the Chemical Engineering Mission statement, we have developed with our constituents an evergreen Assessment Plan.  The Chemical Engineering program has completed the first loop in the ABET-EAC 2000 styled continuous improvement process.  The evergreen assessment plan is thoroughly documented on the Chemical Engineering Program Website (  The website is used to communicate departmental Educational and Program Objectives as well as serving as an archive for all assessment tools and reports from 1998 to date.   Since our founding in 1996, the Chemical Engineering program has been engaged in a formal plan of continuous self assessment and improvement.  In 2002, with contributions from the Chemical Engineering faculty, students, and Advisory Board, the plan was revised extensively to develop the evergreen process in affect today.


The self-assessment process and mechanism for change pivots on three reports analyzing an array of assessment tools with input from all of our constituents. The three reports provide for an opportunity to improve the program and the process of assessment itself. The process assures input from faculty, students, alumni, administration, and our outside Advisory Board. The focus of the plan, of course, is to improve both the input and output to the Chemical Engineering program. Here we outline the Program and Educational Objectives as well as our mechanism for assessment and continuous improvement. Within the objectives section each hyperlink connects to a detailed matrix of assessment tools and desired outcomes.


The next program review is scheduled for fall 2004.  The Chemical Engineering Advisory Board convened in both the spring and fall of 2003 to review the progress of the program and set recommendations for the program to pursue.  The board along with faculty set actions for the coming year defining both champions and timeframe.  The new 2004 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 Mexico's industrial representatives who participate in the annual review of the Senior Design Projects.