School of Engineering Breaks Ground with New Cosmetics Lab

Manhattan College’s School of Engineering recently established a new laboratory for cosmetic engineering graduate students within the chemical engineering department.

Two female graduate students working in the cosmetic engineering lab at Manhattan College.

A new laboratory for cosmetic engineering graduate students is preparing them for top jobs in the industry at companies including Estee Lauder and L'Oreal USA.

"We’ve been completely revamping the cosmetic engineering program, both in terms of the curriculum, as well as in terms of experimental and research capability,” says Samiul Amin, associate professor of chemical engineering. “What we’ve done is introduce new courses which are going to be relevant for students entering into industrial jobs."

The chemical engineering program features industry-relevant equipment and advanced characterization techniques that also are being used by graduate students carrying out research within the department's new biopharmaceutical engineering option.

Faculty Bring Industry Know-How into the Lab

Amin, who has worked in industry across multiple sectors in research and development, and innovation/open innovation management in global multinational companies such as Unilever and L’Oreal in Europe and the U.S., has a thorough understanding of how students should be taught now in order to assist them later on in their industrial careers.

“Our curriculum is probably the most unique curriculum in cosmetics in the U.S., primarily because we don’t only do formulations, we also do the processing and engineering side of things,” he says. 

The course and overall curriculum we have developed not only prepares our students for the cosmetic industry, but equally prepares them for successful entry into other consumer goods industries, such as home care, foods, paints, inks and coatings.

Samiul Amin, associate professor of chemical engineering

The lab itself currently has the equipment and instrumentation necessary for cosmetic and biopharmaceutical engineering practices. For instance, the lab includes an automation formulation platform.

This type of equipment is generally not found in any academic or university labs, and thus attracts students from other institutions such as Columbia, Yale and Princeton.

“We are quickly becoming a global leader in cosmetic engineering, and our efforts are being recognized through multiple awards and grants,” Amin notes. Students in the program have earned a Society of Cosmetic Chemists student first place poster prize in 2018, an American Chemical Society 2020 Primarily Undergraduate Institution runner-up award, and a New York Society of Cosmetic Chemists education grant award, among many others. 

Students Bring Different BackgroundsSix graduate students smiling in the cosmetic engineering lab at Manhattan College.

Denice Xu ’19 (M.S.) described what she got out of the program through her work in the lab. “As a grad student, you’re supposed to learn on your own and combine with your own research, so there were a lot of great ideas that were generated just within the classes and it was really fun for me personally,” she notes.

Xu was also given the opportunity to publish her research in the Journal of Cosmetic Science, and she additionally presented her findings at the International Technology Showcase last year, where she was awarded first prize for her project.

Katie Liu ’15, ’18 (M.S.), another graduate of the cosmetic engineering graduate program, details how the interpersonal relationships between students and professors is especially beneficial with regard to this particular kind of engineering. “Whenever you have questions, you can just pop into a professor’s office and ask them. We saw them as friends rather than professors,” Liu remembers. 

Aina Davies ’20 (M.S.), was a professional makeup artist before beginning the  cosmetic graduate program. In the future, she hopes to combine these interests to discover her true interests. 

It’s about putting your passion into something that you’d want to work with for the rest of your life.

Aina Davies ’20 (M.S.)

“When we’re learning in class, we’re learning about cosmetics, like formulation, to characterizations, to performance. From learning those aspects and then coming to the lab and seeing it when you formulate, when you test your samples, it’s very relatable; you’re learning and then you’re seeing it happen in the lab,” Davies adds.


Experience outside the Classroom

The cosmetic engineering graduate program also offers the opportunity for students to gain industry-level experience through site visits to companies and guest lectures. “We’re always on the lookout for when students can actually go to companies to learn and attend seminars at company sites, and when we can bring in guest lecturers from global cosmetic and consumer companies,” Amin says. “That helps them build networks and get the latest information about market trends and everything else happening in the market.”

Amin is clearly proud of the progress made by the cosmetic engineering graduate program and its lab, and he hopes to see this success increase in the near future. In the past three years, recent graduates of the program and lab have received internships and jobs at places such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder and Celgene.

“If you look around, people struggle to get one industrial collaboration going, and we have had multiple ones,” Amin says. “Our students are going to be true experts in cosmetic engineering and will be great assets for the cosmetic and consumer goods industry.”

Story by: Madison Smith ’21, communication major 
By MC Staff