Paige E. Finkelstein ’14

How did you decide on Course X as a major?

I decided to major in chemical engineering because I wanted to pursue an engineering degree that would be flexible enough to apply to fields in both chemistry and biology.  I chose course 10 over similar majors such as 20 (biological engineering), or 3 (material sciences and engineering) because of course 10’s prominent reputation in academia/ industry as well as the flexibility that the department offered.  It offers several engineering degrees, including 10, 10Eng, 10B, and 10C, which means students can find a chemical engineering degree tailored to their specific interests and goals.
I ended up majoring in 10B, chemical-biological engineering, which further allowed me to double major in 7A (biology), minor in 5 (chemistry) and complete my premed requirements. Had I pursued another major, I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to have easily pursued such a breadth of knowledge in multiple departments.

What is your academic experience in Course X?

The great thing about the chemical engineering department – and MIT in general – is that there are unlimited opportunities to further your academic interests.  The undergraduate research opportunity program (UROP) stands out in my experience at MIT because of the high level research you get to engage in as an undergraduate. As a premed student, I found this very important because many medical schools expect you to have participated in research before you apply.  Through UROPing at MIT I was not only immediately exposed to a plethora projects developing cutting edge bio/nano technology, but I also had the opportunity to work directly with world famous professors.

What are your plans post-graduation?

This summer I will begin working toward both my MD and MPH degrees at the University of Miami.  This is a unique program that allows select students to attain both degrees in four years instead of five or six.  I think I would ultimately like to pursue a residency in emergency medicine or trauma surgery, but I am also passionate about novel drug development, so I would also like to get involved with consulting for pharmaceutical companies. Contrary to popular belief, course 10 produces some of the best-prepared premeds because of their engineering background.  During all of my medical school interviews, I was consistently asked how chemical engineering is applicable to medicine.  My answer was always the same: As a chemical engineer, I have a unique skill set that allows me to apply concepts to the human body that we studied in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and heat/mass transfer. The human body is analogous to a bioreactor so, for example, understanding how oxygen transfer works for cells in a reactor can be directly applied to how oxygen is transferred from lungs into the blood stream!

How has your MIT ChemE experience helped you follow your goals/passions?

Becoming a chemical engineer has opened many doors for me.  While I came to college with the intent to ultimately go to medical school, I knew that if I changed my mind, I could have easily pursued a career in several other trades with my chemical engineering degree.  Just to give an idea, many of my peers are entering the pharmaceutical industry or oil/energy industry straight from undergraduate, and many of them are pursuing PhDs or master degrees in chemical engineering.  There are also several students entering consulting, finance, or working for start-ups.  A great feature of course 10 is that even if you realize your goals a little bit later in your college career, your career choices won’t be limited.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Because of the way course 10 is structured, it facilitates a strong sense of community among your peers.  At about 70 students per year, you get to know everyone in your class very well.  Some of the best friends I have made at MIT are the friends I met on the first day of 10.10 (the introductory chemical engineering class), and some of my favorite memories at MIT were made in Building 66 (the chemical engineering building).  As I am about to graduate, I really could not imagine my MIT experience without course 10.

Larissa Kunz ’15

Graduation Year: 2015

Why did you decide on Course X for your undergrad?

Going into undergrad, I was very interested in alternative energy, particularly alternative fuels. Having enjoyed chemistry, physics, and especially math courses in high school, I decided that Course X would be a good means of pursuing these interests and preparing myself for a career in fuels. To be honest, I did not know what chemical engineering was, but given that Course X graduates wind up going into a wide variety of different fields, I decided ChemE would give me a solid background even if my career goals were to change significantly.

What attracted you to 10-ENG?

I participated in the MITEI pre-orientation program DELTA, through which I learned about the energy studies minor and flexible degrees like 2-A. I wanted to learn about developments in energy research and decided to pursue an energy studies minor. 10-Eng was a new program at the time and was not particularly well-known. When I found out about 10-ENG at a Course X department overview session a couple months later, I realized that this program could help me better integrate my interest in energy into my ChemE coursework in addition to pursuing the energy studies minor. When the program became ABET accredited a year later, I decided to do it; naturally, I chose a concentration in energy. I hoped that this integration of an energy focus into my Course X coursework would teach me how to apply the skills and knowledge gained from a ChemE background to contemporary energy issues.

How was your experience in designing your own program?

The flexibility allowed by designing much of my own program enabled me to take courses I might not have been able to fit in as well otherwise. At the start of my first year, I looked through the MIT course catalog, course descriptions provided by MITEI, and Course 10 degree paths in order to put together a preliminary 4-year plan. As both my interests and some of the courses offered changed from year to year, I deviated from the original plan, but it nonetheless helped me easily organize my program and ensure I was meeting all requirements. My advisor, Professor Armstrong, helped me make a number of decisions about these deviations by making sure I know about new courses being offered and sharing his knowledge and opinions about the topics covered in certain courses.

What are you doing now? Did 10-ENG help you with your career or personal growth?

I am now participating in the Course X M.S.CEP program. While doing 10-ENG gave me a better understanding of progress and limitations in the energy industry, I still took many of the same classes as those students doing straight X; while I was originally concerned that deviating from the traditional ChemE coursework might present a disadvantage in the M.S.CEP program, I have not found this to be an issue. Instead, the more flexible degree enabled me to focus more on my interest in energy, and I look forward to applying my improved understanding of problems in energy to my future research and/or work in industry.

Do you think Course 10-ENG would be beneficial for MIT and Course X undergrads?

I would recommend 10-ENG to anyone with a strong interest in one of the 10-ENG concentrations, especially if you want to take a relatively large number of courses in that concentration area or if you are fairly certain that you want to pursue a career in that field. The concentrations are broad enough that you do not narrow in your career options, in my opinion; instead it helps you shift your knowledge and skill set towards the interdisciplinary field you are interested in.

Do you have any other thoughts about your personal 10-ENG path or the program in general?

Putting together a plan – or more accurately several potential plans – for all of my undergraduate courses wound up being really helpful in making decisions about my program along the way. Between that and the help of my advisor and a couple other professors I had, putting together my 10-ENG program wound up being easy, and the program was a very positive experience and has opened a lot of doors for me.

Kenneth A. Smith

Research Interests

fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer


Sc.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1962

S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1959

S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1958


Honors and Awards

National Academy of Engineering, 1983

Professional Progress Award, AIChE, 1981

Clark K. Colton

Research Interests

biomedical engineering, biochemical engineering, mass transfer


Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1969

B.ChE., Cornell University, 1964


Honors and Awards

Gambro AB Award, International Society of Blood Purification, 1986

Curtis W. McGraw Research Award, American Society for Engineering Education, 1980

Allan P. Colburn Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1977

Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Teacher-Scholar Award, 1972

Charles L. Cooney

Research Interests

biochemical engineering


Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1970

S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1967

B.S., University of Pennsylvania, 1966


Honors and Awards

Honoris Causa by Ramon Llull University in Barcelona, 2012

Dieter & Inga Koehn Lecture, 2010

Fellow of the American Chemical Society, 2009

Founding Fellow, American Institute for Medical & Biological Engineering, 1992

Institute of Biotechnological Studies, 1989 Gold Medal

James Van Lannen Award for Distinguished Service to the Division of Microbial & Biochemical Technology of the American Chemical Society, 1985

Food, Pharmaceutical & Bioengineering Division Award, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, 1983.

Becten-Dickenson Award lecturer, American Society for Microbiology, 1977

Listed in Who’s Who in Frontiers of Science & Technology

Listed in American Men of Science

Sigma Xi

Robert S. Langer

Research Interests

drug delivery, biomaterials, tissue engineering, biotechnology, immobilized enzymes, biomedical engineering


Sc.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1974

B.S., Cornell University, 1970


Honors and Awards

Kavli Prize in Nanoscience, 2024

Dr. Paul Janssen Award for Biomedical Research, 2023

Balzan Prize, 2022

BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Biology and Biomedicine, 2022

Maurice-Marie Janot Award, 2020

Dreyfus Prize in the Chemical Sciences, 2019

Number 1, Master of the Bench, Medicine Maker “Power List”, 2018

Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine, 2017

Number 1, Master of the Bench, Medicine Maker “Power List”, 2017

Honorary Doctor of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, 2016

World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds list, Thomson Reuters, 2016

Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, 2015

Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year, 2015

Kyoto Prize, 2014

The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, 2013

Israel’s Wolf Prize in Chemistry, 2013

National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 2013

Elected to National Academy of Inventors, 2012

Wilhelm Exner Medal, 2012

Perkin Medal, 2012

Warren Alpert Foundation Prize, 2011

American Chemical Society Fellows, 2011

Millennium Technology Prize, 2008

Max Planck Research Award, 2008

Prince of Asturias Award for Technical and Scientific Research, 2008

AIChE Founders Award, 2008

Chemistry of Materials Award (American Chemical Society), 2007

Herman F. Mark Award (ACS), 2007

United States National Medal of Science, 2006

National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2006

Dan David Prize in Materials Science, 2005

Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomed Research, 2005

General Motors Kettering Prize for Cancer Research, 2004

Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment, 2003

Harvey Prize in Science and Technology and Human Health, 2003

John Fritz Award, 2003

Charles Stark Draper Prize, 2002

Dickson Prize for Science, 2002

Lemelson-MIT Prize for Invention and Innovation, 1998

Gairdner Foundation International Award, 1996

William Walker Award (AIChE), 1996

Elected to the National Academy of Sciences, 1992

Elected to the National Academy of Engineering, 1992

Stine Award in Materials Science and Engineering (AIChE), 1991

Professional Progress Award (AIChE), 1990

Elected to the Inst. of Medicine of the NAS, 1989

Food, Pharmaceutical and Bioengineering Award (AIChE), 1986

Karen K. Gleason

Research Interests

chemical vapor deposition, membranes, organic surfaces, interfaces, and devices


Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley, 1987

S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982

S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1982


Honors and Awards

AIChE’s Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement by a Woman Chemical Engineer, 2021

John M. Prausnitz AIChE Institute Lecturer Award, 2019

Charles M.A. Stine Award, 2015

Elected Member of the National Academy of Engineering, 2015

Elected AIChE Fellow, 2013

AIChE Process Development Research Award, 2012

Printed Electronics Europe Best Materials Award, 2011

Keynote speaker, 23rd Int’l Conf. on Amorphous and Nanocrystalline Semiconductors, 2009

Chair, 5th Intl. Conf on Hot-Wire Chemical Vapor Deposition, August 2008

Donders Visiting Prof., Utrecht University, Netherlands, 2006

Excellence Award, SEMATECH, 2000

Tenth Annual Van Ness Award Lecturer, RPI, 2000

Chair, Gordon Conference of Diamond Synthesis, Oxford UK, 1998

Presidential Young Investigator, National Science Foundation, 1990

Young Investigator Award, Office of Naval Research, 1990

Amoco Foundation Fellow, 1982-85

NCAA Post-graduate Fellow, 1982

All-American NCAA Division III Swimming, 1978-82