FULL - CURIE: Catalyzing UR Interest in Chemical Engineering [*IDEA]

Camp is FULL for Summer 2024.
Application is OPEN for Summer 2024. Register Now.
Application is CLOSED for Summer 2024.
This is an INVITE-ONLY camp.
Application is TBA for Summer 2024. Check back soon.

Age Group: 10th - 12th


  • Residential: $1000
  • Commuter: $600
  • Virtual:
  • Day Camp:

Category: 3-D Sessions


  • Jul 21 - 27

Residence Hall:

Scholarships: Yes, see details No

*IDEA camps are mission-driven camp sessions led by departments aiming to Increase Diversity, Equity, & Access in STEM majors and careers. These camps focus on support and empowerment of traditionally excluded populations in STEM including (but not limited to) the areas of gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, and ability. The absence of their talents is a detriment to the STEM fields. IDEA camps provide a safe environment to build a community of peers and mentors who empower one another to be confident in their exploration of STEM. All are welcome to apply.


Campers working on lab activites in a group, wearing goggles
2018 ChemE Campers

Chemical engineering is a discipline that is organized around producing useful materials by combining ideas from science and mathematics. In most cases, a chemical engineer takes a scientific process, or discovery, and engineers it so that it can be made on a large scale. This makes the products produced by these processes more affordable. Because chemical engineers make food, clothes, power, medicines, and plastic on a large scale, they are cheaper for all of us! Camps have explored many exciting topics within chemical engineering, such as:

  • Working with big engineering equipment such adistillation towers in a chemical plant in a virtual interactive session with chemical engineers. 
  • Making plastics from scratch using an extruder machine. 
  • Video tours of chemical plants in the Champaign-Urbana area

Camp activities include:

  • Playing with Silly Putty to understand the physics of fluids. 
  • Playing computer games to understand protein function in our body. 
  • Understanding how engineers make large amounts of chemicals used in everyday products. 
  • Meeting with faculty, and graduate and undergraduate students to learn about the chemical engineering discipline and research. 

This year’s camp will include most of these topics and projects but is subject to change.

Campers will go on field trips (online or in-person depending on the prevailing COVID situation) to further understand concepts within chemical engineering and to witness how these topics apply to the real world. In the 2023 camp, we plan to organize visits to local chemical plants such as Lyondellbasell Plant in Tuscola, IL, and Abbott Power Plant in Champaign, IL. We will learn about life in a chemical plant from engineers working on-site!


Campers walking through lab space wearing hard hats
2018 ChemE Campers

“This week we experienced many different lab activities, which were very hands-on and two of my favorite were the water filtration activity, where we filtered dirty water into clean water, and the crystal activity, where we learned about crystals and their properties. I liked experiencing this because I felt that I was able to understand the information and also apply it well, as an engineer would.” ~2019 ChemE camper 

ChBE 2018 I-STEM Article


Dr. Diwakar Shukla is an assistant professor in the Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Grainger College of Engineering. His research interests are in using computational methods to address chemical and biomolecular engineering problems.

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