The role of an engineer encompasses just about every aspect of our lives— from our food systems, to the clothing on our backs, and how we consume energy. Their overarching expertise prepares them for jobs across a range of industries, making it a vital and rewarding career for undergraduates and graduates to explore.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of chemical engineers will grow six percent from 2018 to 2028. In a vibrant field with endless opportunities, aspiring engineers or engineering professionals should consider studying at West Virginia University’s (WVU) Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources.
An institution encouraging visionaries
Engineering students here are in excellent hands; the college draws on over 125 years of engineering education excellence and is rated as an R1 (very high) research activity institution, as reflected in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This classification established WVU among the few elite universities to hold this ranking, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia and Johns Hopkins.
The college boasts 150 faculty members and a host of engineering programs taught under seven academic departments, including Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Mining Engineering and Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering.
Students can choose from a wide range of academic programs, including 13 undergraduate majors and seven dual majors. At the graduate level, WVU grants students the opportunity to pursue both a master’s and PhD, with an emphasis in conducting original research in areas as diverse as new energy conversion processes, novel catalysis, surface sciences and more.
The university has carved itself a reputation of excellence across numerous areas. Several of the engineering programs, including chemical engineering, were ranked in the top 100 of US News and World Report’s 2019 edition of America’s Best Graduate Schools.
Undergraduate engineering degrees
Unlike other universities, WVU offers many opportunities for undergraduate research experiences. Prospective undergraduate students will be exposed from the beginning of their studies to open-ended design problems, which grow in complexity as students become more proficient. As part of a capstone design course, seniors organize and operate as teams to solve real industry problems.
Undergraduate programs are ABET accredited, assuring students, employers and society that they meet the quality standards that produce graduates prepared to enter the global workforce. After graduating just two generations of students, the BS in Biomedical Engineering program is amongst the top 120 in the nation. The program combines biology, medicine and engineering principles, helping students develop novel approaches in solving complex problems in human health care, and helping them engineer the next generation of tools used for scientific discovery.
WVU’s BS in Chemical Engineering gives students a broad background in chemical engineering processes. Graduates leave prepared for successful careers in a wide range of disciplines, including positions in operations, development, design and more. Graduates are also prepared for graduate school in engineering and science, as well as for any professional school. Many students have enjoyed successful careers in medicine, law, business, energy and more.
Many students go on to graduate school, both at WVU and top universities around the US. They also hold engineering-specific career fairs that allow employers and students to network for internship and employment opportunities, priding itself on its high job placement rate.
Postgraduate degrees in engineering
Graduate students here work closely with a research advisor and mentor to make new discoveries in important research areas. The small student population allows WVU to offer highly personalized education and allows advisors to spend more time with students. A significant portion of research is conducted in collaboration with outside corporations and universities.
The college’s state-of-the-art facilities ensure graduate students have the right tools to conduct their research, including computers, software, materials, structural and wet laboratories. The biomedical program collaborates with researchers across the university who work within the areas of cancer research, nanotoxicology, neurosciences, orthopedics, imaging and systems biology.
The college has multiple laboratories with opportunities to work with simulations, one of the most advanced is the Advanced Virtual Energy Simulation Training and Research Center (AVESTAR). The center houses fully functional operator and immersive training systems that allow students to explore chemical processes in a virtual environment to reduce negative environmental impact and improving safety in energy systems across the nation.
What sets WVU apart from the rest?
One of WVU’s outstanding students, Morgan Szafranski, is in WVU’s Honors College and is set to graduate this December with four degrees (completed in just over four years!), three of which are in engineering disciplines. This is in addition to a Chinese studies major.
After applying to Carnegie Mellon University, MIT and Johns Hopkins, he chose WVU for financial reasons.
“Had I gone to any of the other schools, I wouldn’t have multiple majors and would have over US$100,000 of debt,” he said. “I’m glad that I came to WVU; I’m getting quite an education without placing a tremendous weight on my shoulders financially.”
Szafranski also participated in the summer study abroad program, which greatly enhanced his Chinese language skills and cultural knowledge.
WVU not only has a rich academic environment, but also fosters a welcoming culture that will evolve into your home away from home. West Virginia offers a landscape of pure adventure, with endless trails through the Appalachian Mountains, world-class white-water rafting, rock climbing, cycling and snow sports. Nestled between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C., WVU will support you on whatever path your academic journey takes you on.
“One of the best parts of WVU is that you’re in a truly wild and wonderful state,” Szafranski said. “Exploring nature at the Core Arboretum, hiking scenic trails around lakes and mountains, and zip-lining at the outdoor recreation center are memories I’ll never forget. Even though I’m graduating and leaving Morgantown soon, I’ll always be a Mountaineer and can’t wait to be back for the next adventure!”
All things considered, it’s clear that WVU offers an unparalleled learning environment for engineering studies in an exciting landscape to call home during your academic career.