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What is the mission of the Chemical Engineering Technology (ChET) program at Austin Peay State University?  Explain that mission with some history and context.

To prepare students for positions as Process Operations Technicians in the growth sectors of all of the Chemical Process Industries (and help our graduates secure meaningful employment and careers).

The ChET program started in 2010 as a “blank piece of paper” without any resources or assets.  However, there was substantial financial support from Hemlock Semiconductor, LLC (the pilot plant facilities) and from the state of Tennessee (new Chemical Engineering Technology building). In addition, the program enjoyed significant administrative and academic license to recruit and retain qualified engineering professionals to serve as faculty members.

In our first three years, we focused on the development and implementation of this new ChET program with delivery in three formats: normal, accelerated and distance.  We were very successful (102 graduates – cumulative May 2012) and we are now confident that the ChET program is established and healthy.

Building upon our initial success, we intend to move from a safe, internal focus to a more uncertain, external focus.  We need outside assistance.

How do you accomplish your mission?  What is the delivery vehicle?

A two-year academic program that is rigorous in Mathematics (Algebra and Trigonometry), Physical Science (Physics and Chemistry) and engineering technology fundamentals. A graduate of this program receives an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Chemical Engineering Technology.

What type of accreditation will you attain for the ChET program?

Currently we are pursuing accreditation from the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) in Baltimore, MD. Unfortunately it was necessary to modify the original ChET curriculum in order to meet the requirements for ABET accreditation. We are currently awaiting approval from the Tennessee Board of Regents to allow us to enforce the ABET curriculum modifications.

In addition to ABET-TAC, we intend to achieve accreditation as a member of the North America Process Technology Alliance (NAPTA).  We strongly believe that our ABET curriculum modifications will be sufficient to satisfy the NAPTA guidelines.

Whom should I contact for more information about the Chemical Engineering Technology program?

Dr. Chester Little, 931-221-1601,

What are the qualifications of the ChET faculty?

All (4) of our faculty members have advanced engineering degrees and a significant amount (60+ years total) of industrial experience.  Two of our faculty members are licensed professional engineers.  The ChET faculty members list may be accessed from the side menu.

Do you have a special agreement with Hemlock Semiconductor LLC?

No. There are NO guarantees with Hemlock Semiconductor LLC regarding the supply or take of any employees or interns.  Of course, we have an excellent relationship with Hemlock Semiconductor LLC, and we intend to maintain that relationship. However, that relationship is no different than that with any other potential employer. 

Is Wacker Chemie hiring your graduates?

Many companies are recruiting our graduates, including Wacker Chemie.  Although Wacker has an exclusive relationship with Chattanooga State Community College, the Wacker Chemie HR department has indicated that they will start hiring our graduates in 2013.

What other sectors of Chemical Process Industries (CPI) are you targeting?

As you can see from the curricula, our students have NOT been trained for a particular sector.  In fact, we are adamant that our students receive a complete, rigorous education that will allow them to work in any or all sectors of the CPI.  Our graduates are qualified for employment in the electric power generation, solar cell manufacturing, oil and gas, petroleum refining, petrochemicals, agricultural chemicals, specialty chemicals, pulp & paper, alternative energy, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and many other related industries.  Approximately 20 companies have hired (or promoted) graduates from the ChET program.

What’s beyond the 2-year ChET program?  relationships with full engineering programs?

Nothing!!!  The AAS degree is a terminal degree; it doesn’t lead to anything.  but…Many potential employers have requested ChET-type knowledge with additional Analytical Chemistry skills.  We are working closely with the Chemistry Department to offer a lower-division Analytical Chemistry option within the ChET program. Of course, we receive several excellent students each year into the ChET program who have the Math/Science aptitude to progress to a full engineering degree.  It is very important that we intercept those individuals as early as possible to substitute the Calculus-based versions of our courses.  These substitutions allow our students to pursue a ChET career without sacrificing the option of full engineering.