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UTSA Adds Chemical Engineering To Train Biotech And Energy Workers

Part of the new chemical engineering department will eventually be housed in one of the new science buildings on the UTSA campus slated to open in 2020. This is an artist's rendering.

The University of Texas at San Antonio is adding a new chemical engineering program. The idea is to turn out graduates to work in the biomedical and energy sectors.

UTSA has a robust engineering department training students in areas like civil, computer, electrical, mechanical and biomedical engineering. Now, add chemical engineering to the list. The Klesse Foundation is giving a million dollars to help start  the program, money that will be used for scholarships and facilities.


"Our country needs more engineers and pragmatic solutions to issues," said Bill Klesse, a chemical engineer himself.

Already, UTSA has 73 applicants for 30 spots this fall. The Dean of Engineering, JoAnn Browning, Ph.D., P.E., says she expects the new chemical engineeering program to attract more women to the school.

"The enrollments in programs across the country are anywhere from 35 to 50 percent women," Browning explained. "And right now in the college of engineering we’re a little under 20 percent. So we see that this is going to greatly increase the attraction that we have for all that female engineering talent."

Chemical engineers fill jobs in areas like biotechnology and pharmaceuticals as well oil and gas. The Gulf Coast region is one of the biggest employers of chemical engineers who make, on average, $120,000 dollars a year.