New and specialized materials are set to play a leading role in tackling major 2st-century challenges. Tomorrow’s innovations in recycling, advanced manufacturing, treating disease and injury, cleaning water and generating and storing energy will all depend on major contributions from chemical and materials engineers. Launched in 2018, Concordia’s Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering will develop, test and enhance future processes, solutions and materials across a range of industries.
This new department blends and builds on Concordia’s widely-recognized strengths in chemistry, physics, materials and environmental engineering. Anchored in the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, it will collaborate strongly with the Faculty of Arts and Science. This approach is unique in Quebec and Canada since it enables the examination of new chemicals and materials on a continuum — from their atomic level through their industrial application and commercialization.
The Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering has enabled Concordia to reach an academic milestone: we now cover the complete spectrum of engineering disciplines. Additionally, of all the engineering disciplines, chemical engineering has the highest makeup of women, at about 33 per cent. Our new department will therefore strategically grow our student enrolment while helping address the countrywide gender imbalance in engineering.
Tomorrow’s building blocks
From food to biomedical, aerospace, energy or pharmaceutical — every major industry relies on chemical and materials engineers. Much of their work focuses on converting one material or substance to another. In Canada, where such a large portion of our economy depends on transforming raw materials into products and energy, chemical and materials engineers play a major role. As our country’s natural resources become increasingly finite, better and safer methods for resource conservation, large-scale production and pollution control will be paramount.
The global switch to renewable energy will thoroughly redefine the role of the chemical industry in the world. Cutting-edge research in chemical and materials engineering is needed to keep companies competitive in this rapidly changing global environment.
Society’s ability to successfully harness significant amounts of solar energy will depend on the effectiveness of future materials that convert and store sunlight into energy. In fact, almost all innovations in technology and electronics will be limited by the materials available to build with — their size, performance and affordability. The enormous potential of 3D-printing, for instance, remains untapped because optimum materials are yet to be developed. Canada’s materials engineers will be the ones to provide tomorrow’s constituent parts, whether new computer chips or polymers. Our Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering will offer the grounds to lead novel experiments in this pursuit.
Research by a recent Concordia PhD candidate offers an impressive example. Losing a piece of bone to disease or an accident can make for a long and painful healing process. The student developed a lightweight implant made of glass and polymer foam that’s both porous enough and strong enough to mimic human bone. His work provides an alternative to metal bars typically inserted as a bone substitute to promote healing, which can end up causing infection or being rejected by the body.
Your support will greatly accelerate the work of future innovators like this student.
A long-term impact
Support for the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering will:
Advance research and breakthroughs. Currently, we have 15 faculty members with expertise in chemical and materials engineering. Our new department will provide them with a next-generation platform to flourish.
Foster collaboration. Increasingly, today’s leading research requires cooperation beyond one’s immediate discipline. Our department is among the few that combine the fundamentals of chemistry with practical applications of material and chemical engineering across industries.
Propel training in an area of growth. No other university in Quebec offers a department like ours. Only one other Canadian department of chemical and materials engineering exists and its focus is primarily on oil and gas industry processes.
Develop materials that offer ecological solutions. Our department will emphasize new processes for producing specialized materials, such as lightweight metal, alloys, composites, semiconductors and nanomaterials.
The establishment of the department will be scaled up over four to five years. Our aim is to reach 200 graduate students and 225 to 275 undergraduate students by year five.
Support a new Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering.