Chemical Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University


  • Andrew Lawrence Zydney Penn State University



The Chemical Engineering Department at The Pennsylvania State University (commonly known as Penn State) is located in State College, PA, an area colloquially known as “Happy Valley”. The drive into Penn State is beautiful, passing through the hills of the Allegheny Mountains and through multiple state parks and forests. For many visitors, that trip ends at Beaver Stadium, the second largest stadium in the western hemisphere and home to the Penn State football team.  For others, the draw might well be Penn State’s Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, the longest continuously operating university research reactor in the world.  However, for most of the past 60 years, visitors interested in chemical engineering would arrive at Fenske Laboratory, the long-time home for the department named after Merrell Fenske (who is also the namesake for the “Fenske equation” used to calculate the minimum number of theoretical plates in a distillation column). But, not any more. In Spring 2019, the department moved into a brand new, state-of-the-art, 195,000 square foot facility specifically designed to accommodate our undergraduate and graduate programs. The department graduated 223 B.S. chemical engineers in 2017-2018, ranking first among all degree-granting institutions in the U.S. (, and 25 of our graduate students received their Ph.D. degrees, the largest number ever produced by the department in a single academic year.