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Two engineering departments to merge, offer joint program

by Nan Cooper - January 17, 2006

The Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering will be merged to form a new Department of Chemical, Materials, & Biomolecular Engineering.

The merger, an outgrowth of the School of Engineering’s strategic plan, will be effective July 1.

The merger is expected to dramatically increase the size, quality, and diversity of undergraduate and graduate programs, and also significantly increase research opportunities in energy, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and materials – specialties that overlap the two current departments.

It also will offer a new, joint program in biomolecular engineering that is expected to attract top students.

“This strategic action takes advantage of the confluence of recent events, both internally and at the national level,” says Amir Faghri, dean of engineering, who announced the change.

“Initiation and growth of a powerful and dynamic new department will advance the national and international prominence of two of our most important and valued programs that, because of their current small size in terms of both faculty and students, do not receive the university, national, or international recognition they deserve.

“We will be able to recruit top faculty, drawn to UConn by the new department and drawn to Connecticut by the emerging technological industries in the state,” Faghri adds.

“This merger also provides significantly better opportunities for faculty recruitment and retention, including much better start-up packages enabled by cluster hiring.”

The merged department will consolidate courses and eliminate duplication of effort. However, the distinctive identities of chemical engineering and materials science and engineering will be retained in two programs within the new department, including the existing undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

The transition to the new department began Jan. 1.

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