Dean’s Word

The roots of the Wolfson Department of Chemical Engineering were planted in the early 1950’s with the establishment of the Chemical Engineering section within the Industrial Chemistry department at the Technion. The name of the department of Chemical Engineering and its essence changed over the years but since the 1960’s it has become a leading modern department, significantly influencing Israeli Industry. In particular, the Israeli Chemical Industry emerged as the second largest industry in Israel, predominantly due to the leadership of our alumni.

The added value of a Chemical Engineering education, as compared to one based on science alone, is portrayed by the fact that the Chemical Engineer takes advantage of scientific innovation, to overcome processing difficulties and produce novel products using modern techniques. A key element in modern Chemical Engineering is process design with minimal impact on our environment. It is critical to have a “green outlook” in mind during every design stage. Our graduates, who were exposed to a variety of scientific and engineering topics, know very well how to exploit the unique and advantageous knowledge-base acquired during their studies.

There are 18 active and 12 retired faculty members in our department. Several retired faculty are still actively contributing to research and teaching in the department. The departmental student body consists of approximately 420 undergraduate and 100 graduate students. In addition, the department hosts numerous post-doctoral fellows, research staff members and academic guests.

We offer the possibility for undergraduate studies in two main streams: studies towards a degree in Chemical Engineering and studies towards a degree in Biochemical Engineering. An additional stream, leading towards a degree in Environmental Engineering, is possible via collaboration with the department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, where a significant number of courses in this stream are given in the department of Chemical Engineering. Graduates of the two main streams (Chemical and Biochemical Engineering) are trained as Chemical Engineers, where the Biochemical Engineers enjoy a slightly increased expertise in biological topics. Finally, we mention that in the recent past the department has improved its ties with the chemical industry, resulting in an additional course being taught at the department by practicing Chemical Engineers.

Undergraduate studies in our department are challenging and require a significant effort by the students, though the level we uphold is certainly within the reach of top graduates of our nation’s high schools. The atmosphere in the department, largely due to its comfortable size, is pleasant despite the strict academic requirements and associated hard work expected from the students. We traditionally score very high on student satisfaction questionnaires. Our experienced staff is available to help and advise the students with respect to any problem they may encounter. Despite the large number of students, we pride ourselves on our open door policy and personal (almost familial) approach. Every year we grant a number of prizes to students who have demonstrated excellence in their studies, as well as to those who have exhibited outstanding individual responsibility towards the society. On this occasion a number of fellowships are made available to students with economic difficulties.

Graduates of our undergraduate program, as well as outstanding graduates of other academic institutes, often continue their studies within the framework of the MSc, ME and PhD graduate degree programs offered in our department.

Keeping in touch with all our graduates is one of our top priorities. We are currently working, together with the Technion Alumni Association, on improving our ties with our graduates. We view our alumni as messengers of good will for the good of the department and the younger generation.

Departmental facilities include several well-equipped research laboratories whose focus is on a variety of topics such as chemical catalysis, nanotechnology, desalination and membrane science and technology, materials and polymers, and advanced microscopy. Computational resources available to our researchers enable the simulation of fluid-flow, transport phenomena, molecular systems, control systems and more. Recently acquired facilities include advanced analytical equipment for nanotechnology research, purchased within the framework of a new infrastructure center combining high resolution microscopy of frozen soft materials. This center is part of the Technion nanotechnology institute (called the RBNI), which provides service to researchers from both inside and outside the Technion. Two additional central laboratories are currently being built in the department to enable state of the art research on new ways to produce hydrogen from water, and to advance fuel cells technologies. These two labs are an integral part of the Technion Energy Program (called the GTEP).

Several of our faculty members hold active roles in the Technion administration. Technion level administration of research in topics such as nanotechnology, energy, security, is directed by faculty members from our department. We are preparing to recruit new faculty with the aim that they will promote the advancement of our department into new directions in topics such as biochemistry, catalysis and energy. The department recently renovated its teaching laboratory facilities, and is currently renovating is main lecture hall. We are also engaged in renovations of additional research laboratories, increasing junior staff office space and further improvement of teaching facilities for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Graduates from our department are employed in a wide range of industries. These include the classical chemical industry (i.e. petrochemical, agrochemical, energy, mineral and specialty chemical industries), the pharmaceutical industry, the microelectronics industry, the defense industry, biomedical companies, the desalination industry and more. Our graduates typically find it relatively easy to gain employment in relevant work places requiring a combination of creative thinking and a solid professional knowledge base. Finally, I am happy to report a new graduate studies program, currently open for applications, which has been set up within the framework of the Technion Energy program, and is aimed at training the next generation of Israeli natural gas and petroleum engineers.

Please feel free to contact the departmental secretariat for further information.

Prof. Gideon Grader