University of Iowa

Chemical Engineering

Many of the top employers for the University of Iowa’s chemical engineers are expanding in the global market: Accenture and Monsanto are multinational companies, General Mills and International Paper have facilities in several countries, Boston Scientific develops and manufactures its products globally, and Fauske & Associates distributes its products and methodology worldwide. Since it’s likely that your future career will require you to communicate and work within various cultural contexts, it’s important to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity.

The College of Engineering Advisory Board ranks having a global perspective second on the list of desirable skills in engineering employees (after communication skills). Having a global perspective is also a valuable distinction when applying for graduate and professional programs, as over a third of chemical engineering majors do.

To aid you in coordinating study abroad with your major requirements, this page offers advice about when to study abroad (see the "Timing" tab), how to fulfill your academic requirements abroad (see "Academics"), and how to choose a study abroad program best suited to your needs (see "Programs"). 

As a chemical engineering major, there are many study abroad options available to you. From short-term, faculty-led programs to full-year direct enrollment in an international university, there are plenty of opportunities for you to pursue both your academic and extracurricular interests abroad.

Because international experience is so important for engineering students, a fair amount of funding is available to engineering majors interested in study abroad. Information about scholarships offered through International Programs and through the College of Engineering is provided under the “Considerations” tab. Additionally, the “Programs” tab—which includes information about study abroad, internship, and research programs geared toward engineering majors—lists a few opportunities that come with funding.

If you would like to study abroad during the academic year, the best time for you to go is before or during your 3rd semester. After that, you will likely need to add a year to your expected graduation date in order to complete all of your major requirements. That said, some chemical engineering students are willing to take a year off from their major coursework to study abroad, take courses toward a minor or certificate, and/or complete a “co-op.” For instance, you might study abroad and/or complete non-major courses during one semester, then complete a co-op (a paid internship in the United States) during another. If you are participating in the Five Year BS/MS Program, the first semester of your 5th year is also a good time to study abroad.

If you’d prefer not to study abroad during the academic year, various off-semester programs relevant to engineering students are also available. See the “Programs” tab for more information about summer and short-term study abroad programs.

All engineering students are strongly encouraged to plan their study abroad experience well in advance of their departure date. Be in touch with your advisors (both in Study Abroad and in the College of Engineering) early on in the planning process.

If you would like to study abroad during the academic year but can’t seem to find the time, it may be possible to complete some of your course requirements during a summer at the UI, thereby freeing up a semester to study abroad. If you are interested in completing some of your course requirements during the summer, consult with a faculty advisor in your major department about which courses are typically offered during summer sessions. They will be able to help you decide if you can take enough summer coursework to manage studying abroad during the academic year.

There are many opportunities for chemical engineering students to fulfill academic requirements abroad. In general, courses taken abroad can be substituted for UI courses with approval from the appropriate UI department. Consult with a study abroad advisor about getting overseas courses approved for UI requirements. Once you select a program of interest, your study abroad advisor will give you a Credit Approval Form to complete with a College of Engineering academic advisor. Students in a Bachelor’s to Master’s program will need to get overseas course approvals from both the College of Engineering and from the Graduate School.

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING MAJOR REQUIREMENTS

Some courses in the Chemical & Biochemical Engineering (CBE) Curriculum will be easier to find overseas equivalents for than others. For instance, it will be relatively easy to find overseas equivalents for your General Education Component courses, Engineering Fundamentals courses (ENGR:2110 Statics, 2120 Electrical Circuits, and 2130 Thermodynamics), and Elective Focus Area (EFA) courses. You may be able to find equivalents for ENGR:2720 Materials Science and your organic chemistry courses (CHEM:2210 and 2220). You could also try to find equivalents for CBE:2105 Process Calculations, 3105 ChE Thermodynamics, 3120 Chemical Reaction Engineering, and 5205 Introduction to Biochemical Engineering.

Typically, it is difficult to find overseas equivalents for CBE:3110 Engineering Flow and Heat Exchange and 3125 Chemical Process Safety. It is recommended that you take your senior design courses (CBE: 4109 Chemical Engineering Process Design I and 4110 Process Design II) at the University of Iowa.

Keep in mind that most courses in the CBE curriculum are offered once per academic year and many are prerequisites for courses you’ll need to take in future semesters. As you plan your study abroad experience, be sure your trip won’t prevent you from completing these prerequisites in time.

General Education Components

Because your General Education Component courses (GECs) are typically non-specialized courses, it may be easier to find overseas equivalents for your GECs than for some of your upper-level engineering courses.

Language courses are especially good GECs to complete abroad. Of your required 15 GEC semester hours, you can take up to 12 semester hours of selected language courses, as long as they are intermediate level or higher. For a list of approved languages, see the College of Engineering’s GEC webpage, linked to above. If you’re interested in taking language courses abroad, information about language-intensive study abroad programs is provided under the “Programs” tab.

Other GECs you might consider finding overseas equivalents are for those that include a cultural component. Courses in approved GEC disciplines like Art History, Communication, Women’s Studies, and Economics are likely taught from varying cultural perspectives around the globe and could be interesting to complete abroad.

Elective Focus Area Courses

Your Elective Focus Area (EFA) is a set of elective courses (24 semester hours) required for your degree. The CBE Department offers nine pre-approved EFA plans (including a list of courses that would fulfill the EFA), or students can propose their own custom EFA. All EFA courses must be advanced level courses, and some of the course requirements for the recommended EFAs can be quite specialized (i.e. difficult to find equivalents for overseas). Still, it may be possible for you to complete some of your EFA courses abroad with the approval of your faculty advisor and the CBE Department. If you are completing a custom EFA, you may be able to design it with your study abroad experience in mind. If you are completing one of the pre-approved EFAs, research some of the other major advising pages on this site to see if they offer any programs relevant to your EFA. (For instance, if you are completing a Business EFA, check out the advising page for Business majors.)

Study abroad can be expensive. Luckily, various scholarships and grants are available for engineering students interested in gaining international experience. In addition to the various study abroad scholarships offered to UI students through International Programs, eligible students are encouraged to apply for the following scholarships offered through the College of Engineering. Questions about these scholarships should be directed to the Director of Scholarships and Recruitment.

Robert E. Moulds Global Engineering Scholarship

This scholarship is available to students in a declared College of Engineering major that are interested in the international environment and studying abroad. Recipients must demonstrate financial need. Preference for these awards will go to undergraduate students interested in a VIPT program or a CoE-sponsored Study Abroad Program. Awards will range in amount from $1,000-$2,500 depending on the number of applicants and the funds available.

Oskvig Global Engineering Scholarship

This scholarship is available to Iowa residents in a declared Engineering major. Recipients must demonstrate interest in working in developing countries and working with energy and/or water. Awards will range in amount from $1,000-$2,500 depending on the number of applicants and the funds available.

JW Deegan Fund

Any College of Engineering undergraduate who has committed to an international experience and who demonstrates financial need (as determined by the FAFSA) is eligible for this award. It can be used to assist with airfare expenses. Award amounts will vary based on the number of applicants, the amount available, and the student's estimated cost of airfare.

In addition to fulfilling academic requirements abroad, chemical engineering students can intern, conduct research, take language courses, and explore new academic disciplines. The long-term and short-term study abroad programs listed below offer engineering courses that could likely be substituted for some of your major requirements. (See the "Academics" tab for information about overseas course approvals.) Also listed are a few funded internship and research opportunities for engineering students.

If you would like to take language courses while abroad, information about language-intensive study abroad programs is available under the "Programs" tab of the General Education advising page. You can also search our programs database (using the language filter) for information about language programs.

Students interested in taking non-engineering courses while abroad are encouraged to browse the programs database (using the discipline filter) and consult our Steps to Studying Abroad advising page. You are also encouraged to visit the Study Abroad Resource Room (located in International Programs, 1111 University Capitol Centre), where a peer assistant can help you research study abroad programs.

Semester and Yearlong Programs

Summer Programs

Funded Internships

Research Opportunities

SEMESTER AND YEARLONG PROGRAMS

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Exchange

HKUST is prestigiously ranked for engineering worldwide. Participants choose a single engineering department that best matches their UI focus, which is then assigned as their home department for the semester or academic year. (Chemical engineering students would likely be assigned to the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.) Exchange students can take a combination of courses across different disciplines to fulfill their academic needs. Individual course descriptions are available on HKUST's website. All engineering courses are taught in English

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia: University of Newcastle

The University of Newcastle’s School of Chemical Engineering & Advanced Materials offers several courses relevant to chemical engineering majors. For information about individual course offerings, browse the University’s course handbook. This program is offered in both the spring and fall semesters. (Keep in mind that semesters at Australian universities generally run February-July and July-November.) 

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales: Swansea University

Swansea University offers courses in Chemical Engineering. Participants in this program take a British Culture & Politics course—which incorporates various local field trips—then enroll in regular courses at the university. 

CIEE Madrid Engineering and Society

This program is hosted by the Universidad Carlos III, one of Spain’s top-ranking engineering schools. Participants take a series of elective courses—for instance: materials, energy, and biomedical courses are offered—as well as a Spanish language course and a Spanish culture course. Most courses can be taken in English or Spanish. (Energy and biomedical engineering courses are offered in English only.) You can also complete a for-credit Engineering-related internship via this program.

IES Madrid Engineering, Architecture, & Science

Program participants take between 15-16 semester hours of courses taught by IES, including a required Spanish language course. Both English-taught and Spanish-taught engineering electives are offered. Participants can also elect to enroll in courses at two local universities—the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and/or the Universidad CEU San Pablo. Both universities offer most courses in English. The Universidad Carlos III de Madrid offers several courses relevant to chemical engineering majors. More information about the program’s academic requirements and offerings is available on the IES website.

IES Shanghai Engineering

Study engineering in Shanghai! Participants take a required Chinese language course, either at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) or through IES Abroad, and 2-3 English-taught courses at the University of Michigan-SJTU Joint Institute. The Joint Institute’s course offerings vary by semester, but several relevant to chemical engineering students have been offered in the past. For current offerings, check out the Joint Institute's course listings. Participants can also elect to take English-taught IES Abroad courses in IES’s 21st Century China Program.

CIEE Dublin Engineering, Technology, and Society

Participants take one CIEE study abroad course, “Seminar on Living and Learning in Dublin or History” or “Culture of Modern Ireland,” and four courses at Dublin City University, one of which may be an engineering-related internship. The university offers several courses relevant to chemical engineering majors. For current course offerings and syllabi, visit the CIEE syllabi page. Local excursions are included!

SUMMER PROGRAMS

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Exchange

HKUST’s summer program is a great opportunity for Engineering students who don’t have time to study abroad during the academic year. The program is 8 weeks long and offered only to UI students. Participants take up to 9 s.h. of courses while participating in various cultural activities. The university’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering offers courses relevant to chemical engineering majors. You can look up individual courses by department on HKUST's website. All summer courses are taught in English.

CIMBA Italy Program

Participants in this 4-week program take two courses from the following disciplines: engineering, business, economics, journalism, communication studies, and beginning Italian. Individual course descriptions are available on CIMBA's website. Typically, the engineering course offered is Statics. (For information about engineering courses that will be offered in the future, contact the CIMBA office, located in the Pappajohn Business Building Suite W230, or email cuis-info@uiowa.edu.) Faculty and students are drawn from American universities, and the instruction is in English.

IES Shanghai Engineering

Participants spend 13 weeks (mid-May to mid-August) studying engineering at the University of Michigan-Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute. Students take 3-4 English-taught courses alongside students from other U.S. universities. For a list of course offerings, check out the Joint Institute's course listings.

FUNDED INTERNSHIPS

General advice about interning abroad is available on the "Internships Abroad" web page.

RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES                

The Stanley Awards for International Research

The Stanley Undergraduate and Graduate Awards are given annually to outstanding UI students for the pursuit of learning activities in international studies that are not available on the UI campus. Awards are given to undergraduates who have developed small-scale independent research or fieldwork projects on international topics that require travel abroad, and to graduate students who are in the early stages (pre-proposal stage only) of conducting research abroad for a master’s thesis. Award stipends vary depending on merit and the travel and living costs associated with the research project, but generally, they reimburse expenses between $1,000 and $3,000. Awards recipients are typically announced in April. Once the award is offered, recipients must complete their travel within the calendar year.