Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering

Major Description

Chemical and biomolecular engineering is a diverse and exciting field where you could find yourself creating life-saving medicines, advancing fuel cell research, or developing the next big food item to hit grocery store shelves. It’s about improving things that people use every day while reducing their cost. Around the world, Illinois alumni can be found reducing costs at production facilities and building reactors to manufacture new materials. They’ve been instrumental in developing products like Tide (Procter & Gamble), Cheerios (General Mills), DiGiorno pizza (Nestle), and Cottonelle tissue (Kimberly-Clark). Rooted in chemistry, chemical engineering applies the principles of chemistry often, but not limited to, a large scale. Chemists often synthesize new molecules or mixtures on the size scale of beakers. Chemical engineers then work to scale up the synthesis process to meet market demand.


Two concentrations are offered through Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.


Designed to prepare students for careers in the chemical, food, energy, pharmaceutical, semiconductor processing, personal care, fiber, and materials industries where chemical processes are coupled with heat, mass, and momentum transfer.

Builds upon the traditional principles of Chemical Engineering, but specializes in biological and biotechnological systems in order to better prepare students who seek employment in the food, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries.

Courses That Introduce the Major:
  • CHBE 121—Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Profession
  • CHBE 221 - Principles of Chemical Engineering
  • CHEM 202/203—Accelerated Chemistry I / Accelerated Chemistry Lab I
  • CHEM 204/205—Accelerated Chemistry II / Accelerated Chemistry Lab II
  • MATH 220/221—Calculus/Calculus I

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

Chemical engineers work in a variety of segments within the chemical, petroleum, pharmaceutical, and electronics industries industries, including processing, manufacturing, research and development, management, environmental compliance, and business.

  • Able to identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics.
  • Able to apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, and welfare as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors. 
  • Effective written and oral communication with a range of audiences.
  • Recognizes ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and able to make informed, contextually specific judgments.
  • Functions effectively in a team environment where members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment, establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives.
  • Develops and conducts appropriate experimentation, analyzes and interprets data, and uses engineering judgment to draw conclusions.
  • Acquires and applies new knowledge as needed using appropriate learning strategies.
  • Manufacturing Engineer (Procter & Gamble)
  • Process Design Engineer (ExxonMobil)
  • Career Development Engineer (Honeywell/UOP)
  • Production Engineer (ADM)
  • Quality Associate Engineer (General Mills)
  • Manufacturing Scientist (Eli Lilly & Company)
  • Corporate Project Engineer (3M)
  • Rotational Engineer (AkzoNobel)
  • Technical Problem Solver (Epic Systems)

Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:
Further Information:

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.  These organizations include American Institute of Chemical Engineers.