Over one hundred years of chemical engineering at McGill has evolved through several distinct stages. The chemical engineering curriculum, established at McGill in 1908, produced its first Bachelor's degree graduate in 1911. Following about 25 years in that initial stage, the second period, the J.B. Phillips era, started in 1931.

After a 1930-31 year at M.I.T., Dr J.B. Phillips (McGill BEng/MEng/PhD 1927,28,30) took charge in 1931, using the M.I.T. "unit operations" concept as inspiration in revamping the McGill program. This second stage ended with the retirement in 1964 of Dr Phillips as the first chairman - after 33 years in charge of McGill chemical engineering!

Another determining influence on McGill chemical engineering was Dr W.H. Gauvin, the son of McGill (BEng/MEng/PhD 1941,42,44) who became the father of the department's international reputation. His 29th PhD student graduated in 1992, in Gauvin's 80th year. At his death in 1994 he left 170 publications in the literature and an uncompleted review of a new book on his desk.

Starting in 1964, the two decades of the third period were furthest from equilibrium. This period saw a transformation from a BEng school with one internationally recognized researcher, Gauvin, to a department that by 1983 was declared, in the external evaluation required periodically of all McGill departments, to be "a world-class Department of Chemical Engineering". Since achieving that status, the Department continues to evolve in a fourth stage, its mature period, with a variety of innovations typical of dynamic departments.

Top departments rest not on their laurels but seek to anticipate the future. Staff and students now determining our future owe a great deal to Phillips and Gauvin, key founders of McGill Chemical Engineering.

Chemical Engineering Chairmen

Phillips, 1961

Gauvin, 1961


Chairmen (1975-Present)

Douglas (1975-1983)

Kamal (1983-1993)
Dealy (1993-1994)
Munz (1994-2004)
Prof. Berk
Berk (2004-2012)

Coulombe (2012-2018)

Yargeau (2018-)