History of Chemical Engineering at IITD




IIT Delhi was first established as College of Engineering and Technology Delhi in 1959 with the aid provided by the British Government. This aid continued until the early 70s. The academic assistance came from Imperial College London. During this initial phase, many IITD faculty were sent to UK for their higher education, in particular for a doctoral degree, and many distinguished faculty from UK came to India to teach at IIT Delhi. One of these professors was Dr. Rumford who also became the first Head of the Chemical Engineering department. The last teacher in this series of instructors was Dr. D.J. Gunn from University of Wales, Swansea who spent approximately 6 months in IIT Delhi in 1975.

                The current Chemical Engineering and Textile departments were inherited from the erstwhile Delhi Polytechnic located at Kashmere Gate (near ISBT and old Delhi railway station) which later became Delhi College of Engineering (DCE) now known as Delhi Technical University (DTU). All the existing facilities were shifted lock, stock and barrel from Delhi Polytechnic to the present IITD campus in Hauz Khas and since then, the departmental has seen many transformations only to emerge as one of the most productive Chemical Engineering departments in the country.

Evolution of UG and PG programmes

  1. B.Tech. programme: The first batch of 45 students was admitted in the year 1961 for a five year programme (after standard XI) and the last batch in this programme graduated in the year 1985. The first batch of the four year degree programme (after standard XII) also graduated in this same year.

The current batch size of students stands at a whopping 75!

  1. Dual Degree programme: The first batch of 30 students was admitted through JEE in the year 1997 for a five year integrated dual degree programme. These 30 students were inducted in addition to the 4-yr B.Tech.s and they were further divided into two specialized streams of 15 students each – (a) Computer Applications in Chemical Engineering and (b) Process Engineering and Design. These students graduated with two separate degrees, one with Bachelor in Technology in Chemical Engineering and the other in Master of Technology in their respective specialization.

Currently, both streams have been merged into one known as the Master of Technology and the student intake is close to 50!

  1. Master of Technology Programme: The M.Tech. programme was started in the early 1970s with a maximum of 20 students admitted in the following four areas – (a) Process Engineering and Design, (b) Chemical Reaction and Engineering, (c) Chemical Process Control, and (d) Biochemical Engineering.

At present, there is only one programme known as the Master of Technology in Chemical Engineering with a total intake of 40 students. A separate Department of Biochemical and Bioengineering (DBEB) now exists in IIT Delhi which conducts its own independent undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

  1. Doctor of Philosophy programme: The first Ph.D. holder from the department is Dr. Pritchard (a British national) whose thesis was supervised by (late) Prof. P.N. Sehgal. Prof. Sehgal himself was a Ph.D. from Imperial College London. The second Ph.D. was given to Dr. S.J. Chopra who worked with (late) Prof. P.K. Mukhopadhyaya. Dr. Chopra joined Engineers India Ltd. (EIL) from where he retired as a Chief Managing Director. Prof. Mukhopadhyaya later became the Director of the R&D center of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) in Faridabad.