Auburn University was established in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, 20 years after the city of Auburn's founding. In 1872, under the Morrill Act, the school became the first land-grant college in the South and was renamed the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.  In 1899 the name again was changed, to the Alabama Polytechnic Institute. Finally, in 1960 the name of the school was changed to Auburn University, a title more in keeping with its location, and expressing the varied academic programs and larger curriculum of a major university.

Auburn University is a large, comprehensive land, space and sea grant research institution. Auburn is the state's major university for students in engineering, as well as agriculture, physical and biological sciences, veterinary medicine, fisheries, psychology, and many other areas of study.

Auburn first offered courses in Chemical Engineering in 1913. Our graduate program in chemical engineering began early in the department's history. The first class of M.S. Chemical Engineering graduates received their degrees in 1919. Our doctoral program began in 1974. Auburn began admitting women early in its history. The first female students came to Auburn in 1892. Women have been earning chemical engineering degrees at Auburn since the early days of our program. Mrs. Esther Thompson Spencer was one of our first female graduates; she earned a B.S. and an M.S. in chemical engineering in 1918 and 1919, respectively.

Historic Ross Hall

Ross Hall Construction (1930)

Since our program began, we have consistently attracted large classes of undergraduates and our graduate program has experienced substantial growth since the 1950's. Enrollment of graduate students began to rise as the popularity of chemical engineering graduate degrees increased and as extramural funding became more available.

Energy research was a major research focus for the department in the 1970's and 1980's.  The 1980's also brought in new research expertise in areas of catalysis, materials engineering, and biotechnology, surface science, and space-related research programs through the Space Research Institute. In 1985, at the request of pulp and paper industry leaders, the Department of Chemical Engineering established the Pulp and Paper Research and Education Center (PPREC).  This center has subsequently been renamed the Alabama Center for Paper and Bioresource Engineering (AC-PABE).  The mission of the center is to conduct research on improving productivity and profitability in the pulp and paper industry, and to provide highly skilled engineers for the industry.  

Expertise in process systems engineering, supercritical fluid technology, molecular thermodynamics, environmental transport and separations were added to the department in the 1990's.  In 1996, the Center for Microfibrous Materials Manufacturing (CM3) was established focused on a unique Auburn technology to produce microfibrous materials that have wide ranging applications in catalysis, filtration, fuel cells and others.  The 2000's represented a period of significant growth and expansion for the department including the addition of expertise in process and product design, biomedical engineering and drug delivery systems, micro- and nano-technology, advanced process dynamics and controls, and systems biology. 

The department has experienced a period of growth since the last ABET on-site review, resulting in an increase in the faculty size to 20, coupled with significant increase in both the undergraduate and graduate student enrollments as described throughout this self-study. 

Ross Hall Today

Ross Hall Today (Following 2006 Renovation)

In addition, major renovations to our facilities have been recently completed with Wilmore Laboratories being completely updated in 2002 and Ross Hall having a complete renovation and addition in 2006.  These extensive renovations have resulted in a significant improvement in the quality and quantity of the facilities available to our faculty and students and have positively affected our function, including enrollment and retention of both students and faculty.

Wilmore Labs

Wilmore Labs

Last Updated: Jun 08, 2017