While traveling by train during the 1940s, A. Lakshmanaswami Mudaliar, Vice Chancellor of Madras University, had a casual conversation with Alagappa Chettiar and mentioned his interest of starting technology related courses in Chennai. The casual talk inspired the philanthropist, and he donated an amount of five hundred thousand Indian rupees for the formation of a college. This led to the establishment of Alagappa College of Technology.
The Department of Chemical Engineering was established in 1944 in A. C. College of Technology under University of Madras. In September 1978, the Department was transferred to the then newly-formed Anna University, a unitary type of University. The department which started with an undergraduate course in chemical engineering is presently offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses in chemical, petroleum refining and petrochemicals, and environmental science and technology. The curricula and syllabi for the undergraduate and postgraduate courses have been periodically updated in line with modern day developments in the chemical engineering arena and taking into account the demands of industry and R&D institutions. The department has fully equipped undergraduate laboratories in the core areas of chemical engineering to impart practical knowledge to the students. The students of the department are placed in established process and product industries through campus and off-campus recruitments. They are also selected for higher studies in the best chemical engineering schools in India and abroad.