University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Chemical Engineering Senior Labs Upgrade Project

Department of Chemical Engineering Senior Labs Upgrade Project

1950s-style lab benches and Bunsen burners, antiquated instrumentation, overcrowding…

Today’s chemical engineering students are faced with both the challenge of more complex chemical engineering content and the lack of proper equipment with which to study it. This is a major problem within our department.

You can help!

Preparing for Students for Success in Industry

Senior Lab

Senior Laboratory is the CAPSTONE course in the chemical engineering curriculum. It is designed as the prime Integrated Experience course that exposes the students to a series of experiments that demonstrate principles studied in their chemical engineering courses. Our objective is that each experiment covers several of the concepts that have been presented in the curriculum, e.g. heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, kinetics, etc. The experiments must also challenge the students to understand and use complex equipment, design experiments that will address to answer assigned questions, analyze data to obtain quantitative results and the associated uncertainty, while maintaining industrial safety standards. We wish to continue to provide experiments that cover classical technology such as distillation and heat exchange, but also to provide experiments that expose the students to currently relevant topics and to industrially relevant techniques and instrumentation.

The Challenge

Some of the experimental stations are more than 25 years old, and while they have been modified over the years with computer control and data acquisition, or with new analytical equipment, some need major overhaul. Additionally, in the last decade the number of students in the lab has tripled. This increase has required an expansion of the number of experiments and has increased the hours in use for each experiment. During this same period the lab has expanded into a second room, one that is designed as a chemistry lab and not for chemical engineering experiments. This expansion has occurred with relatively little capital expenditure. The expansion has been accomplished piece-wise, with the use of older equipment and with no concerted capital expenditure initiative. For the students, this means more frequent equipment failure, crowded conditions with poor work flow, and more time spent getting equipment to function, then in observing and exploring chemical engineering concepts.

Senior Lab Initiative

We are asking for your help to fund the overhaul of several of the older experiments, to add new experiments that reflect relevant technology, and to increase the resource efficiency of the chemical engineering lab. The university has committed to re-model and re-purpose Goessmann Lab rooms 62 and 67 (formerly the CAVE), to produce safe and productive teaching lab space for chemical and biochemical engineering (expected total support in excess of $400,000). Your donations will help us outfit these newly renovated spaces with experiments that will enhance student learning with a greater breadth of topic and with use of equipment that will allow them to focus on experimental development and discovery.

The funds will be specifically used for critical upgrades including:


  • Experiment specific modification for newly refurbished spaces
  • Mobile lab storage units
  • Storage locker modules

Critical equipment upgrades and new equipment:

  • Equipping room 67 for biochemical engineering experiments
  • Fund new, leading edge experiments for the 21st century, enhancing coverage of thermodynamics (e.g. heat pump / refrigeration or turbine) and biochemical engineering (molecular biology: plasmid to protein)
  • Rebuilding the heat exchanger experiment
  • Rebuilding the methanation reactors
  • Installing a local cooling loop using building cooling water to reduce our water use
  • Adding analytical equipment for polymer processing experiments to reduce experimental bottlenecks

Corporate Sponsorship

Corporate Sponsorship of the Chemical Engineering Senior Labs Upgrade Project

Corporate sponsorship is a critical component of our efforts to raise $500,000. These funds will leverage the university’s commitment to renovating the infrastructure of the labs.

Your company will receive acknowledgement of its support of this project online, in our newsletter, and for gifts over $10,000, inclusion on a plaque in the renovated space.

In-kind donations of equipment and materials are also welcome and may have significant tax advantages for your company.

Your company’s gift will have an important and lasting impact on the quality and competitiveness of our department.

Several naming opportunities are available during this project as well.

To discuss how your company might support the Department of Chemical Engineering, please contact Amy Schrom, Executive Director of Development for the College of Engineering, at 413-545-6396 or

Follow UMass Chemical Engineering: