Our History

History of the Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Program


The Kingston School of Mines (the precursor to the Faculty of Applied Science) introduces eight engineering courses. Among them is "(D) Chemical Engineering". Then, as now, three years of specialized study followed a common first year, resulting in a degree of Bachelor of Science.


J.A. Kelso, first Chemical Engineering graduate, enters Queen's.


J.A. Kelso graduates, obtaining the first Queen's B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering.


The Chemistry Department and Chemical Engineering program move into the newly completed Gordon Hall.


Chemical Engineering is set up as a separate department.


Chemical Engineering moves to Ontario Hall.


Chemical Engineering moves into Gordon Hall Annex.


First female graduate from Chemical Engineering.


Chemical Engineering moves into newly completed Dupuis Hall.


Chemical Engineering celebrates its Centennial.

History of the Engineering Chemistry Undergraduate Program


Engineering Chemistry appears in the Kingston School of Mines calendar as Program "B"(Chemistry and Mineralogy)


First Engineering Chemist graduates


The program name is changed to Analytical and Applied Chemistry


The program name is changed to Chemistry, Industrial and Research


The program name is changed to Engineering Chemistry, its current name.


In this period, 634 students graduate from the Engineering Chemistry program.


The Engineering Chemistry program, administered by the Department of Chemistry, incorporates elements of chemical engineering fundamentals (heat, mass and momentum transfer, reactor design, kinetics) in addition to the more substantial grounding in Applied Chemistry.


Engineering Chemistry becomes the responsibility of the Department of Chemical Engineering but continues to be offered as a partnership between the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Chemical Engineering.


The Engineering Chemistry program celebrates its Centennial.

History of the Chemical Engineering Graduate Program


J.A. Kelso awarded first M.Sc. for a thesis submitted from his place of work


First female M.Sc. graduates


First female PhD graduates

First Graduate - James Alexander Kelso

In 1905

James Kelso of Wallacetown, Ontario, entered Queen's.

In 1909

He graduated with the first Queen's degree in Chemical Engineering. He went to work at Canada Cement Company "Vulcan Mill" in Calgary.

In 1911

Queen's awarded him an M.Sc. for his thesis, "Modern Portland Cement," an analysis of the cement production process.

After working in the Customs assay office in Calgary, Mr. Kelso was appointed Provincial Analyst of Alberta in 1913. Following World War I, he joined the Chemistry Department at the University of Alberta in Edmonton as Provincial Analyst, Director of Industrial Laboratories and Research Professor of Chemistry. He held these posts until his retirement in 1953. James A. Kelso died in Edmonton in December, 1962.

First Ph.D. - Thomas Clarence Burnett

Tom Burnett (B.Sc. 1962, M.Sc. 1964, PhD 1966) completed his thesis, Fluid Dynamic Aspects of the Deceleration of Liquid Films, with his thesis advisor, Reg Clark. After working for Canadian International Paper and GE Canada, in 1970 Dr Burnett joined INCO Ltd., where he spent the remainder of his career, rising to become Director of Environmental Affairs. After his retirement, Tom continued to work as a consultant for Pollution Probe and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. He lives in Oshawa, Ontario, with his wife Marlene (Queen's Physics and Mathematics, '63).

Women in ChemEng

Although Chemical Engineering (like all of Applied Science) was exclusively a male preserve for the first half of the program's existence, the last 35 years have seen a steady rise in the proportion of women in the program at all levels. In recent years around 50% of Chemical Engineering undergraduate classes have been female. Students may refer to the program as "FemEng", but we are happy to have been so successful in attaining gender balance and in graduating so many capable female engineers.

First Female Graduate - Margaret Murtha Blance

One of only two women in her year, Margaret Murtha graduated in 1957. Chemical Engineering did not have its second female graduate until 1970. Since then, the proportion of women in ChemEng has steadily increased. By the end of 2004, 370 women had received B.Sc. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Queen's.

First Female M.Sc. - Lucy Toro Todd

Lucy Toro completed her M.Sc. thesis, Biological Denitrification in Packed Column Reactors, in 1972. This research was conducted with her thesis advisor, Derek Bone. She became a computer programmer while working for Shell in Britain and has been an I.T. professional ever since. Lucy now lives in Winnipeg, where she is systems analyst and project manager for the University of Manitoba's administrative group.

First Female Ph.D. - Giselle Krista Larish

After obtaining her B.Sc. at Queen's in 1981, Giselle Larish returned to complete a PhD in 1989. Her thesis was The Heterogeneous Catalytic Oxidation of N-Butane to Acetic Acid. On completion of her studies, she joined Imperial Oil. After working for ExxonMobil in the U.S., Dr Larish returned to Imperial Oil, where she is a Toronto-based specialist in lubricant manufacturing and processing, responsible for supporting production facilities in Edmonton and Sarnia.

Above excerpt from "Queen's Chemical Engineering - Worth Celebrating" Centennial Booklet; 2005