No. 5 and Climbing

US News & World Report's logo for Best Engineering Schools
UT ChE recently climbed to No.5 in the country, according to the annual U.S. News & World Report (USNWR) graduate rankings-the leading set of college rankings in the nation.  The department’s program has been on a steady rise for the past five years.

“We’re pleased with these results-the goal is to be recognized as the premier Department of Chemical Engineering in the nation,” said Roger T. Bonnecaze, department chair, T. Brockett Hudson Professor and Bill L. Stanley Leadership Chair.  “Reaching No. 5 is an important milestone on our path to this goal.  High rankings reflect our impactful research and delivery of quality education that develops students into chemical engineering leaders.”

In addition to publishing hundreds of papers, UT ChE faculty were issued 20 U.S. patents last year-the highest of any department at UT Austin. Department faculty have also produced more than six successful start-up companies and won 20 percent of major institute awards granted by the American Institute for Chemical Engineers in recent years. A handful of faculty members are also among the top 25 most cited chemical engineers.  UT ChE graduate students are also raking in accolades- the department now hosts 21 National Science Fellows (NSF) helping take UT engineering to second in the nation for the highest number of NSF fellows.

The Cockrell School of Engineering maintained its No. 8 status in the graduate rankings.  Both the department and college’s top 10 placements help recruit elite students and faculty in an increasingly competitive academic environment.  In recent department focus groups on student recruitment, undergraduate seniors listed rankings as one of the primary things they consider when researching graduate programs.

“Rankings are a priority, alongside location and cost, when looking at where to apply,” said Frankie Pelaez, an undergraduate senior.  “Everyone wants to attend a top ranked school but most of us don’t know how the rankings are fully determined.”

In positioning engineering colleges, USNWR’s rankings are based on things like entrance exam scores, student acceptance rates, faculty/student ratios, research expenditures, reputation among engineers in industry and academia, the number of Ph.D.s produced, and the percentage of faculty elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering. Information was collected from 194 universities between 2011 and 2012 and calculations were made by placing the data into weighted categories and averaging out the rStudents in the classroom at UT Austinesults.

Graduate program rankings per department are based on peer assessment surveys completed by department heads in each specific area of study.  Department heads rate other schools that offer a doctoral degree in their specialty area on a five-point scale.  UT ChE scored 4.6 for 2013.

UT ChE has a strategic plan to continue a push to the top, but it requires additional funding.  State support for the university has fallen for more than a quarter century and a multi-year tuition freeze means tuition funding will be cut each year by the rate of inflation. In response to budget changes and increased costs, the department launched the $25 million Challenge for McKetta fundraising campaign in 2010.  Funds raised will go directly to supporting students, faculty, facilities and programmatic excellence and will rename the department in honor of beloved 96-year-old Emeritus Professor John J. McKetta.  Reaching the target will fulfill McKetta’s wish to secure department advancement for generations to come.

Find out how you can help take the department to No.1.

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