“I studied hard for two years. Finally, with immense hard work and determination, I have cleared this XYZ entrance exam with flying colours. Now what?” Student often have this confusion on which department to pursue, for they have no idea about what exactly goes on and what are the learning opportunities in a particular field. People generally follow, what we call, ‘the mob mentality’; they go for fields like computer science and engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, etc. just because everyone is fighting for a seat in these departments. To avoid this confusion, Toppr brings you this article focuses on some major things you should expect before opting for chemical engineering.
What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical engineers conceive and design processes to produce, transform and transport materials — beginning with experimentation in the laboratory followed by implementation of the technology in full-scale production.
Chemical engineers are in great demand because of the large number of industries that depend on the synthesis and processing of chemicals and materials. In addition to traditional careers in the chemical, energy and oil industries, chemical engineers enjoy increasing opportunities in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, electronic device fabrication and environmental engineering. The unique training of the chemical engineer becomes essential in these areas when processes involve the chemical or physical transformation of matter.
Chemical engineers work to improve the quality of people’s lives. Most items used by people every day have needed chemical engineers to produce them. Chemical engineers are helping to end starvation, disease and poverty. They are working to save the environment by developing alternative technologies to combat acid rain, lead pollution and the greenhouse effect.
What are the kind of skills you acquire?
A chemical engineer must have a comprehensive and quantitative understanding of both the engineering and scientific principles underlying the technological processes. The curriculum is structured such that, it includes the study of applied mathematics, material and energy balances, thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, energy and mass transfer, chemical reaction kinetics, reactor design and process design. They are structure to give students a solid foundation in the sciences of chemistry, physics and biology.
Chemical Engineers by the end of the course have a technical knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, materials science and information technology. However, they also know about economics, management, safety and the environment.
Any Future Prospects?
Chemical engineers working in the chemical industry investigate the creation of new polymeric materials with important electrical, optical or mechanical properties. This requires attention not only to the synthesis of the polymer but also to the flow and forming processes necessary to create a final product.
In biotechnology, chemical engineers help design production facilities that use microorganisms and enzymes to synthesise new drugs.
Problems in environmental engineering that engage chemical engineers to include the development of processes (catalytic converters, effluent treatment facilities) to minimise the release of or deactivate products harmful to the environment.
Many chemical engineers become process engineers when they graduate and start their career. Process engineering is essentially the application of chemical engineering principles to optimise the design, operation and control of chemical processes. Since this requires equipment design and selection, mechanical engineers may also be employed as process engineers.
Chemical engineers have many career opportunities. A graduate might perform ground-breaking scientific research, work as a field engineer, or occupy a senior management position. Graduates employed by multinational companies often travel all over the world.
Even those graduates who choose not to accept jobs in the industry are highly employable in other areas because they are experienced at solving problems and have good analytical and management skills. Chemical engineering graduates can go on to successful careers in finance, consultancy or scientific journalism, to name but a few.
Is there a difference between Chemistry and Chemical Engineering?
Chemists tend to focus on developing novel materials and processes, analysing substances, measuring the physical properties of substances, and testing theories. Chemical engineers focus on turning these new ideas and discoveries into useful products that are attainable. Most work falls into the design, manufacture and operation of plants and machinery and the development of new materials or substances. Chemical engineers focus on making products for profit and on a scale that is accessible to the many.
Chemistry investigates the background of the science encompassing aspects of; organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, and biochemistry. Chemical engineering is more multidisciplinary in its approach as it includes all of the previous topics, as well as aspects of physics and maths such as heat transfer, fluid dynamics and equipment design.
Finally, Chemists tend to work in laboratories performing analysis or research and development, but can also be found in offices, classrooms and in the field. Chemical engineers tend to work at the plant end of research, but also work in laboratories, the field, and the boardroom.
Breaking the Myth!
#1 Chemical engineers are male
About one in four chemical engineers entering the profession in the world are female. Compared to other traditional engineering disciplines, the educational and professional environment in chemical engineering is less biassed against women.
#2 Chemical engineers like to stay in their ‘silos’
Collaboration is the most important factor in allowing chemical engineers to do their jobs, and they constantly work with other engineering and scientific disciplines. In any plant, if a chemical engineer designs a process, the civil engineers design the plant, and mechanical engineers create the machinery. Seldom do chemical engineers work alone.
#3 Chemical engineers work in Energy
It is true that a lot of chemical engineers work in the area of energy – oil and gas, nuclear power, renewables, etc. The energy challenge is one of the biggest challenges facing mankind so it is only natural that this is reflected in areas of employment. But there are other key issues impacting our world today, in industries such as health & well-being, food & drink and water which are also addressed by chemical engineers.
#4 Chemical engineering – does it really matter?
This perhaps isn’t a misconception – but an understatement. They make a real difference to the quality of life for all. Chemical engineering has a hand in everything around us; whether that be keeping the lights on, manufacturing the medicines we need, cleaning the water we drink or processing the food we eat.
“The journey of a boy to become a man goes through college”. Use these years not just to get the degree, but to gain different experiences to make you a overall better person. Don’t be a nerd ,be a geek. I bet you that those 4 years you spend in a college will probably be the best years of your life. The learning opportunities, meeting diverse people with extraordinary mindsets, and last but not the least, as I mentioned, the slow transition from a boy to a man 😉
You may also read about what to expect from other departments such as computer science and engineering. Still confused? Here you can read about ways which can mislead you to take up a wrong branch.
You can decide on which branch you should aim for before you take the JEE. This will help you plan better for the college you enrol in future. That’s all for now folks! We will keep you updated.
Hope you enjoyed the article. All the best for the coming exam season! Keep reading us here.