The Department of Chemical Engineering is dedicated to achieving the highest standard of research and teaching. Our undergraduate programs are among the first Chemical Engineering and Engineering Chemistry programs in North America. Both programs were established over 100 years ago, with our graduate programs following shortly after.

We provide our students with a broad, interactive, and diverse educational experience. We foster an innovative learning environment with outstanding faculty, state-of-the-art research labs, high-quality and well-maintained equipment, and ongoing technical support staff.


The Department of Chemical Engineering provides leadership in education and research at the interface of science and engineering. We anticipate the needs of our students and society and contribute to responsible solutions for future generations.

Engineering Chemistry, named initially 'Chemistry and Mineralogy', was first offered in 1895, with the first graduate earning their degree in 1898.

In 1902, The Kingston School of Mines (the precursor to the Faculty of Applied Science) created eight engineering courses. One of the courses was Chemical Engineering, which had the same format as today- a common first year and three years of specialized study.

The first graduate of the Chemical Engineering program was J.A. Kelso, awarded the first Queen's BSc in Chemical Engineering in 1909. Kelso would continue to earn his MSc with his thesis "Modern Portland Cement." The first PhD graduate was Thomas Clarence Burnett. He completed his thesis, "Fluid Dynamic Aspects of the Deceleration of Liquid Films," in 1966.

In 1922, the Department of Chemical Engineering was established as its own department.


Women in Chemical Engineering

Margaret Murtha Balance, one of only two women in her year, was the first female graduate from the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1957. Our first female master's graduate was Lucy Toro Todd, who completed her M.Sc. thesis, "Biological Denitrification in Packed Column Reactors," in 1972. Following this was our first female PhD graduate, Giselle Krista Larish, in 1981. Her thesis was titled "The Heterogeneous Catalytic Oxidation of N-Butane to Acetic Acid."

As with all Smith Engineering programs, the Department of Chemical Engineering began with only male students. However, in recent years, as many as half of our chemical engineering undergraduate students have been female.

Historical information from "Queen's Chemical Engineering - Worth Celebrating" Centennial Booklet; 2005.

The Department is part of the Stephen J.R. Smith Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Queen’s University. Smith Engineering is changing the face of engineering education, so future engineers can be leaders in the face of complex and multidisciplinary global issues, building on four key pillars:

  1. Problem-based, experiential learning oriented toward the world’s grand challenges.

    A transformative approach to engineering education needs to incorporate problem-based learning across the program to ensure students engage with others and develop novel, technically sound solutions to a broad range of societal challenges in an ethical, sustainable, and humanistic way.

  2. A humanistic approach to engineering.

    A human-centered mindset will be cultivated in students and faculty to frame problems, ensuring that knowledge and creativity are brought to solutions that will have the greatest impact, recognizing and driving “problem-solution” fit through observation, insight and empathy.

    Alongside students’ grounding in fundamental and applied sciences, Smith Engineering needs to incorporate a systematic inclusion of social science and humanities knowledge.

  3. Competency-based education to ensure subject mastery.

    Program-wide competency-based education must communicate progression to students on their competence, allow students to articulate their abilities to employers and ensuring that all graduating students possess the required knowledge and skills.

    This fundamental shift can provide ongoing feedback to students on their progress toward meeting all program requirements, and repeated opportunities to improve at an individualized pace, and will significantly help students articulate their skills to employers.

  4. Experiential learning where students learn through practice.

    A new model of education must provide all our students with innovative professional development and experiential learning opportunities and ensure that community and industry insight is embedded into curricular and extra-curricular experiences.

    What is needed is an approach that provides significant relationship and experience within industry.