PME welcomes inaugural class of new master’s program

This autumn, courses begin for the inaugural class of the master of science in molecular engineering (MSME) program, designed to prepare engineers for leadership positions across industries.

The MSME degree, offered by the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago, features specialized tracks in polymer science and engineering and computational materials modeling, and opportunities to take courses in business, policy, and humanities.

The program draws students from a variety of backgrounds, including recent graduates seeking to build on their bachelor’s degrees and professionals working to advance their careers.

“Students entering the MSME program will receive world-class education and training in engineering fundamentals and tools, as well as the ability to tailor the curriculum to their specific background and professional goals,” said Assoc. Prof. Andrew Ferguson, one of the faculty leads for the computational materials modeling track.

“Our goal for each MSME student is for them to emerge from the program fully prepared for the next steps of their career journey with a deep understanding of their chosen subject area,” said research engineer Philip Griffin, who coordinates the polymer science and engineering track.

Solutions to pressing environmental challenges

Headshot of Sonia Vohra
Sonia Vohra

Sonia Vohra, a student in the MSME program who chose the polymer science and engineering track, recently graduated from Georgetown University. As an undergraduate participating in marine biology research on Biidub, a small island off the northern coast of Panama, she was shocked to find an abundance of trash floating in the water and washed ashore. After disposing of as much trash as possible, she resolved to focus her career on developing solutions to critical environmental issues.

Vohra chose PME because of its interdisciplinary approach to research and education, which gives her the opportunity to learn from a diverse set of professors. She initially found the school by learning of Prof. Supratik Guha’s work on water quality sensing in India, and signed up for classes when she learned PME was introducing the MSME program.

“I am excited to be a part of a program that looks at complex engineering problems fluidly and from the perspectives of different fields,” said Vohra, “and to work with others at the University of Chicago in our shared mission of creating meaningful, cutting-edge technology to improve the quality of life for all beings on our planet.”

Vohra hopes to use her polymer science education to contribute to advancements in the sustainability sector, working in industries that focus on the development of effective and environmentally-friendly materials to combat various types of environmental pollution.

Accelerating materials discovery

Headshot of Ben ElDarragi
Ben ElDarragi

Ben ElDarragi works as a software engineer for Chicago-based company LocusView Solutions, where he focuses on web applications that support materials traceability. He’s also consulted on different digital transformation projects, including new electronic standards for steel material information.

He chose the MSME’s computational materials modeling track to receive specialized training in scientific computing and machine learning, as well as to further develop his current skill set as a programmer. One of the reasons he chose PME was the design of the program, which he felt was key to fostering his development as an engineer.

“PME recognizes the advantage that interdisciplinarity has versus traditional engineering disciplines,” said ElDarragi, “and this is especially beneficial when approaching topics in computing and those close to the physical sciences like I’m interested in.”

ElDarragi said he’s looking forward to learning about applied scientific computing, especially as it pertains to the future of simulating and designing chemicals. He’s most excited about the role computing plays in accelerating materials discovery for applications in various industries, but particularly in pharmaceuticals and therapeutics.

“I’m very excited for Autumn Quarter,” ElDarragi said, “I’m hoping to meet others who share common interests that I can network with.”