Problems such as climate change, global warming, skyrocketing oil prices, and starvation are in the news virtually every day, all boiling down to a "trilemma" that we inhabitants of Earth face regarding environmental problems, energy/resource problems, and food supply problems. All of these are urgent issues that must be resolved on a global scale if the human race is to survive. But why is this trilemma so difficult to resolve? While it may be possible to solve our problems by returning our lifestyles to pre-industrial levels, this is hardly a viable solution. Somehow, we must address these issues while accommodating the human desire to maintain our lifestyles a present levels, or at improved levels.
To that end, we must create new ways of producing materials, energy and food that are not mere extensions of old ways, but that take into account the needs of our planet and humanity as a whole.
The Department of Applied Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biomolecular Engineering focuses on understanding the concepts of matter and energy, ecosystems, and the atoms and molecules that comprise their constituent parts, while exploring practical applications. In this sense, we have a deep relationship with the problems confronting humankind today. Our curriculum is designed to provide students with the foundation they need, coupled with detailed study guidance.
Our chemistry and bioengineering courses center on research that can contribute to human welfare and the preservation of ecosystems. To that end, we seek to foster an understanding of how substances transform and biological information is generated and stored through the study of atoms and molecules, the physical world's smallest building blocks. Our task is to instill in students the ability to freely design substances with the desired functions, and to develop the systems needed to create and produce those substances. We are also seriously engaged with environmental problems that have come to the for in recent years, through the pursuit of broad-based and systematic education focused on "green chemistry," which takes a comprehensive approach to chemical substances that includes manufacture, management, use, disposal and recycling.
To achieve these goals, we implement Problem Based Learning (PBL) and other methods to nurture superior chemical engineers and researchers who are adept at discovering and solving problems. Building on a tradition that began when our Department was founded in 1920, we place emphasis on integrated education, with three courses available: Applied Chemistry; Chemical Engineering; and Bioengineering. Our required classes provide an overview of fundamental issues, while our electives allow students to both deepen and broaden their mastery of specialized subjects. In their fourth year, students engage in a graduation research project that helps them acquire the comprehensive skills they need. In short, the Department's curriculum is designed to polish students' natural abilities to be the engineers who can carry chemical technology forward in the 21st century.
Highly creative chemists and chemical engineers are needed to address important topics in this century: our environment, renewable resources, atomic-scale analyses, gene therapy, electronic, information and communication systems, clean solvent processes, and low gravity engineering systems. All the materials around us, from plastics to ceramics, from our human bodies to minerals, or from gases and fluids to solids, consist of atoms and molecules. Even if what we observe appears to be intricate or complicated, a fundamental theory that governs the system, from the microscopic-scale to the macroscopic-scale, is certain to exist. Formalism of such theory is limited only by our imagination. Therefore, the formalism of theory must first be sought to explain observed phenomena or simulations and to design and create new materials, chemicals, or processes. To achieve these goals, our approach is to place emphasis on educating students to think and extract intrinsic features from experimental and theoretical results. Furthermore, applicability of developed theories to industrial systems is considered. Our approach uses a combination of broad knowledge, with state-of-the-art technology and new concepts, that are acquired by participation in daily research activities and discussions. The broadness of the education is reflected by the wide variety of classes in organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry; biochemistry; chemical engineering; and biomolecular engineering offered by the instructional staff of our departments.