Chemical engineering introduced two new electives in spring 2020

For engineers, training evolves with time, providing academic institutions opportunities to forecast educational needs and lead the transformation. With that in mind, UVA Chemical Engineering launched two new elective courses in spring 2020.

Fundamentals of Process Safety for Chemical Engineers

Nearly everyone can call to mind a major industrial accident. The Deepwater Horizon. Fukushima. Bhopal. Each caused deaths and lasting harm to people, the environment and the company at the center of the disaster. In chemical engineering, the industrial and regulatory response to such incidents has been the evolution of process safety as a principle business practice.

Still, most U.S. engineering programs do not offer a dedicated course, said 2019 Halsey Professor and former BP executive Ronald J. Unnerstall. “From an industry standpoint, it’s highly desirable to have a process safety-trained chemical engineer who has gone through the thought process and methodology.”

Unnerstall developed the elective, which prepares undergraduate and graduate students to recognize process safety hazards, evaluate the risks associated with the hazards and understand how to mitigate, control and manage those risks through design, operation and use of management systems.

Data Science and Machine Learning for Chemical Engineers

For years, extracting useful insights from the abundance of data available today has been a struggle in business, industry and academia. The interdisciplinary field of data science is responding with new mathematical tools. As computational methods expand, so does the need to teach engineers how to apply them.

Assistant professor Chris Paolucci’s course is a practical introduction to data analysis for chemical engineers. The course covers data storage and retrieval in addition to mathematical techniques and programming skills used in data science and machine learning, such as how to select and validate computer models for use in predicting laboratory outcomes. Students apply the skills through case studies in chemical science and engineering.