Chemical Engineering History and Societies

Chemical engineering evolved from the practice of industrial chemistry in the late 19th century and was first implemented as a profession in the United Kingdom. This event occurred when a series of lectures on chemical engineering was presented in the University of Manchester in 1887 by George E. Davis. The lectures were and still are the lifeblood of chemical engineering. It defined and explained how Chemical engineering subjects can change the world. In his book, ‘A Handbook Of Chemical Engineering, Volume I and II’, George E. Davis explains the basics of carrying out industrial operations on a much larger scale.

The United States quickly took interest after learning about the lectures, and one year later, a curriculum in chemical engineering was formed at MIT making it the first of its kind. Within the next decade, universities in the U.S started to embrace chemical engineering. At the time, it was not clear to many what part chemical engineers would play in industry. So this made it difficult for them to survive. Overtime, they stood up this and demonstrated their uniqueness to the world. They are highly regarded today and George E. Davis is referred to as the world’s first chemical engineer.

Chemical Engineering Societies

  • The Society of Chemical Industry was formed in 1881 after the first attempt was made a year earlier in London.
  • In 1908, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers was formed.
  • UK Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) was created in 1922.

There are other chemical engineering societies all over the world and different countries have formed different chemical engineering societies. AIChE and IChemE both have the highest number of registered members. They both welcome qualified professionals or students of chemical engineering from all over the world. Aside George E Davis, there are others who contributed in building the discipline. Among whom are:

  • Arthur D. Little
  • Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau
  • Robert Samuel Langer, Jr
  • Carl Bosch
  • John. H Perry
  • Thomas H. Chilton
  • Vladimir Haensel