MIT Reports to the President 1996-97


1996-97 was Professor Robert C. Armstrong's first full year as Department Head in Chemical Engineering. Our research volume increased, student enrollment was strong and faculty awards and promotions were all indicators of continued strength in the Department. Completion of renovations in Building 56 allowed our faculty and students in the biochemical and biomedical engineering to begin to consolidate their activities in the same physical area. This year we also had a meeting with our Visiting Committee.

On the administrative side, we created, with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, an Administrative Services Unit (ASU) that consolidates the non-student related administrative function of the Departments. Ms. Elizabeth Cooper was appointed the Director of Administrative Services. Ms. Michelle Shippie has joined the ASU as Personnel Officer and Ms. Gerti Gillen as the Fiscal Officer. The ASU is now fully staffed and located between the two departments in temporary quarters in building 26.

The Department continues to maintain high student enrollments. For the 1996-97 academic year our undergraduate enrollment included: 87 sophomores, 121 juniors and 110 seniors. The high undergraduate enrollment will continue as 96 Sophomores have pre-registered for the coming year, thus placing continued pressure on our undergraduate teaching facilities and our faculty. The Undergraduate Polymer Laboratory, completed in 1996 in building 31 continues to be oversubscribed, indicating the importance of this laboratory course offering to the Department.

Applications to our graduate program indicated a high level of interest from excellent students. From the 412 applications received, we offered 14% of the applicants admission and 69% of the students have accepted this offer; this yield is higher than the 64% of the previous year. There were 35 students in the David H. Koch School of Chemical Engineering Practice; these students participated in projects at our Dow Chemical Company station Midland, Michigan and Freeport, Texas and at Merck in West Point, Pennsylvania. This year we added a new station at Mitsubishi Chemical Co. in Mizushima, Japan. Support of our graduate research continues at a high level with approximately $20M of research funding; 25% of these funds come from Industry.

We conducted an extensive search for a new faculty member and recruited Dr. William Green as an assistant professor. Dr. Green is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and has been at Exxon Research and Engineering for the past 6 years. He will join us August 1, 1997. Professor Daniel Blankschtein was promoted to full professor. It was very gratifying to name Professor William Deen as the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering and Professor Klavs Jensen as the Lammont DuPont Professor of Chemical Engineering. In addition, funding for the Herman P. Meissner Chair in Chemical Engineering was completed this past year; Professor Jefferson Tester was named was named as the first Meissner Professor.

Several of our faculty received awards of special note during the past year. Professor Robert A. Brown received the Professional Progress Award form the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Professor Robert Langer was the recipient of the Killian Faculty Achievement Award, the Gairdner Foundation International Award and the AIChE William Walker Award. Professor Paula Hammond receive a NSF 1997 CAREER Award, as well as the EPA Early Career Research Award and the DuPont Young Faculty Award for 1996. Professor Paul Laibinis received a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research. Professor Jackie Ying was named recipient of the ACS Award in Solid State Chemistry.


For the year 1991-92, sophomore enrollment was 96, juniors 72, seniors 58, total 226; 1992-93 sophomores 95, juniors 89, seniors 81, total 265; 1993-94 sophomores 115, juniors 90, seniors 84, total 289; 1994-95

sophomores 108, juniors 104, seniors 100, total 312; 1995-96 sophomores 118, juniors 101, seniors 103, total 322; 1996-97 sophomores 87, juniors 121, seniors 110, total 318.

Enrollment, which has increased steadily since the 1987-88 academic year, seems to have leveled off. We continue to project a sophomore class next fall of about 100. The classes continue to include about half women, and interest in biomedical and biochemical applications of chemical engineering remains strong.

Our new polymer laboratory has doubled our capacity in that popular subject, but resources for the other undergraduate laboratories continue to be strained. Teaching and advising loads are heavy, with the department having the highest student-to-faculty ratio at the Institute.

A survey of the Class of 1997 shows that about 39 percent of this class is going on to graduate school, 15 percent to medical school and 46 percent into industry.


In the 1990-91 year, Masters enrollment was 59, Doctoral enrollment was 164, total 223; 1991-92, Masters 37, Doctoral 164, total 201; 1992-93 Masters 51, Doctoral 159, total 210; 1993-94, Masters 62, Doctoral 147, total 209; 1994-95, Masters 64, Doctoral 166, total 230; 1995-96, Masters 56, Doctoral 169, total 225. 1996-1997 new numbers Masters 64; Doctoral 162; Total 226.

The total for 1996-97 includes 69 foreign students, 57 female students, and 13 minority students (not including Asian Americans). Graduate admissions data suggests that graduate enrollment will remain in the low 200s for the next several years.

A total of 35 students participated in the David H. Koch School Of Chemical Engineering Practice School Program during the 1996-97 calendar year. The Dow Station was relocated from Midland, MI, to Freeport, TX, in January 1997, while year-round operations continued atthe Merck Manufacturing Division in West Point, PA. Summer stations were established at Dow Corning in Midland, MI, and at the Mizushima facilities of the Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation in Japan. This latter station highlights the recognition of the importance of globalization in today's economy, and provides selected students with an exposure to alternative corporate cultures. This is the first time a Practice School Station has been established outside of the United States. These stations provided a wide variety of excellent projects and opportunities for the students. Dr. Janet Griffiths and Dr. Barry Johnston continued to serve as directors of the West Point and Midland Stations, respectively, during the Fall, 1996, semester. Dr. John Friedly assumed the Merck Station Director duties in January, 1997, while the Freeport Station was inaugurated under the direction of Dr. Chris Quinn. The Midland Summer Station was directed by Dr. Paul Huibers, a Post-Doctoral Associate at MIT, and the Mizushima station by Dr. Andrea O'Connor, a lecturer from Melbourne University, Australia, with assistance from Dr. Angelo Kandas, a recent graduate of the Chemical Engineering Department. Professor T. Alan Hatton continues to direct the Practice School from Cambridge. A Chemical Engineering Practice School program has been established in Thailand for the training of Thai engineers for the local industries; MIT faculty have served in an advisory capacity to assist in the development of this program, which is independent of MIT.


Professor Robert Armstrong gave a keynote lecture at the XIIth International Congress on Rheology in Quebec in August. Later in the year he gave a keynote lecture at the 50th Annual Conference of the Society of Imaging Science and Technology. He also gave a seminar to the Department of Chemical Engineering at Clemson University and the Department of Macromolecular Science of Case Western.

Professor Paul I. Barton received an award from the Exxon Education Foundation and a Dupont Educational Aid grant. Professor Barton was listed in Who's Who in Information Technology. In June 1997, he founded the ABACUSS Project, a Industry/University Research Consortium to design and implement the next generation of process modeling software.

Professor Janos M. Beer Prof. Laibinis' laboratory is also investigating new platforms and strategies for the generation of multi-analyte sensors. Electroplating methods that deposit a single layer of a dissimilar metal onto an electrode surface have been employed to improve adhesion at electrode/organic interfaces. This strategy appears to maintain the electrical utility of the electrode material while incorporating the stability associated with bulk amounts of the electrodeposited monolayer metal. Robust organic coatings for glasses and metal oxides have also been produced that exhibit useful stabilities and high levels of resistance against non-specific protein adsorption. These coatings form by a self-assembly process to expose ethylene oxide units and should have use in biosensor technology where background signals need to be minimized and various biochemical and biomedical applications.


The Chemical Engineering Department's annual Awards Ceremony was held on Wednesday, May 14, 1997 in the Gilliland Auditorium with Professor and Department Head Robert C. Armstrong presiding. The following awards were presented:

In conjunction with the Student Financial Aid Office, Amoco Foundation Undergraduate Scholarships were acknowledged for recipients Celeste M. Nelson, a junior from Denver, CO, Kum Ming N. Woo, a junior from Kaneohe, HI, and Elaine H. Wong, a senior from Kowloon, Hong Kong.

The Dow Chemical Company Outstanding Junior Award recipient was Tiffany P. Cunningham, a junior from Bloomfield Hills, MI, for her balanced record of achievement in academics and campus professional and social organizations, as well as work experience.

The Robert T. Haslam Cup was awarded to Robert J. Meagher, a senior from Sterling Heights, MI, for outstanding professional promise in chemical engineering.

The Roger de Friez Hunneman Prize, the oldest prize in the department (begun in 1927), was awarded to H. Frank Greer, a senior from Burlington, Ames, IA, in recognition of outstanding scholarship and research.

The Edward W. Merrill Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award was presented to Michael S. Wong, a graduate student from Sacramento, CA, for excellence in teaching in an undergraduate subject. A second place award went to Wendy S. Koegler, a graduate student from Richland, WA.

Chemical Engineering Department Special Service Awards were given to Randall T. Myers, a graduate student from Wilbraham, MA, Jennifer T. Fujii, a graduate student from Sunnyvale, CA, and Laura L. Walker, a senior from Holyoke, MA, for their unselfish contributions to the success of departmental activities.

The Chemical Engineering "ROCK" Award for outstanding athletics, as voted by the graduate students of the department, went to Randall T. Myers (see above).

The Outstanding Employee Award was presented to Francine Chaput, a Senior Office Assistant in the ChemE/DMSE Administrative Services Center, for her exceptional service to the department and its students.

The Outstanding Faculty Award from the graduate students, was presented to Professor William M. Deen. Undergraduate students in the department presented an Outstanding Faculty Award to Dr. C. Michael Mohr.

Individual Accomplishment Citations were presented to Darlene Messmer-Slagle, of the ChemE/DMSE Administrative Services Center, and to Bradford D. Ricketson of Birmingham, AL, for their outstanding contributions to departmental life. Ricketson and Messmer-Slagle were recipients of the second offering of this special award, and each received a personalized citation signed by the Department Head.

Robert C. Armstrong

MIT Reports to the President 1996-97