History and Timeline
In 1956, when Middle East Technical University (METU) was founded, the main thought was to teach the man power for technical field which was a massive need for Turkey in those years. After the provision work for the foundation of the department was completed, Chemical Engineering Department was established in the leadership of Prof. Dr. Tarık G. Somer in 1958. The foundation scope and thought of the department was explained by Prof. Dr. Tarık G. Somer in one of his speech given on November 1993:
"The main aim of the foundation of Chemical Engineering Department in Middle East Technical University was to teach stochiometry, unit operations, engineering thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, design, organic and inorganic technology, fuels and combustion, economics, administration courses and raise engineers who, are capable of making the design and installation of a chemical plant; can commence the operations in this plant, has a knowledge about the quality control, marketing and economics, has been teached on theoretical and practical issues both.”
During the establishment years of METU Chemical Engineering Department, there was a fast development in chemical industry of Turkey. First chemical engineers were graduated from the department in 1963. Turkish Petrochemical Holding (PETKİM) was also established in those years. During the development of the chemical industry based on petroleum in Turkey, it was a well-timed decision to raise chemical engineers who were needed by this industry. However, when the development of the chemical industry started to slow down due to the macro economical programs to be applied in Turkey (mid 70’s and 80’s), graduates of the department could not be employed according to the scopes of the department. Employment opportunities for the graduates improved rapidly after mid 80’s due to the development in private chemical industry of Turkey.
The curriculum of the chemical engineering department was a pioneer context not only for Turkey but also for our region and most of the European region in 50’s and 60’s. Until those years, chemical engineering was considered to be a sub-discipline of chemistry program in Turkey. Even in the most countries of Europe, chemical engineering was considered as a sub-discipline of chemistry or mechanical engineering programs. However, in some parts of the world, especially in USA and UK, chemical engineering had already become a major discipline. The major concept of the chemical engineering program was to take the issues in chemistry as a basis and handle the design and operation of the chemical plants with the help of natural sciences, mathematics and economics. Chemical engineering profession was very distinct from chemistry in this respect. Moreover, chemistry basis of chemical engineering in stead of physics and special concepts such as; industrial scale chemical reactions and separation processes based on mass transfer, made chemical engineering discrepant from mechanical engineering. The founders of the METU Chemical Engineering Department noticed the development of chemical engineering as a discrete discipline right after some pioneer countries, and established the department in 1958.
METU Chemical Engineering Department applied to ABET accreditation in 1996 (one of the first two departments with Mining Engineering Department) and opened its program for the inspection. As a result of this, the chemical engineering program of METU was declared as equivalent to the chemical engineering programs in North America. The ABET accreditation was renewed in 2005.
There has been a great advancement in education and research functions of the METU Chemical Engineering Department within years. Graduates of the department renovate their knowledge in their interest areas by following the developments in science and technology; can compete in national and international areas, can use the latest techniques, equipments and information technologies efficiently. Moreover, performing research respectable at high scientific level and publishing has become one of major objectives of the department.