If you are a high school student and want to know what chemical engineering is? Is it reasonable to choose chemical engineering as a major in college? How can chemical engineers make 108,000 USD with a bachelor’s degree in a year? Because I studied chemical engineering and civil engineering at National Taiwan University. I would like to introduce what chemical engineering is and what you will learn from chemical engineering.
What is chemical engineering?
Chemical engineering is to apply principles of chemistry, engineering (math and physics), biology in manufacturing processes, including refining raw materials, mixing, separating, and purification for valuable products. To become a chemical engineer, several professional skills are required, such as fundamental physic, chemistry, engineering mathematics, including solving partial differential equations, unit operations (fluidic dynamic, heat transfer, mass transfer), equipment design, and process design. Additionally, the training would allow a chemical engineer to work in the petroleum industry, including the upstream oil industry and downstream chemical companies. If you are interested in the detail of basic training in chemical engineering, you could check the chemical engineering handbook.
How important chemical engineers are in the company?
From the training, the role of chemical engineers is to manufacture the valuable product for the company with a cost-efficient process. Taking the petroleum industry as an example, the first thing chemical engineers should do is select the source and refine the raw materials. Second, chemical engineers would apply the fluid dynamic with the unit operation to design the pipes to connect each equipment unit to separate the oil into different products, such as the distillation tower. Additionally, distillation column design is a critical step in crude oil separation. The number of stages (trays) in the distillation column would be calculated to ensure the purity of the product. However, the number of stages would also affect the cost-efficiency of the process. Fewer stages in the tower might cause impurity in the final product. Still, more number of trays would increase the cost of manufacturing. Therefore, the importance of chemical engineers in the company is to optimize the process with the lowest price to manufacture high-quality and valuable products.
What industry could chemical engieerg do?
Chemical engineers could work not only in the petroleum industry but also in other industries that required product manufacturing, such as the semiconductor industry, the pharmaceutical company. Each industry requires additional training; for example, if you want to work in the semiconductor industry, you need to take courses in semiconductive materials, photolithography…etc. If you want to join the pharma, it is better to learn biology, including cell culture, protein biology, virology depending on the drug product. Therefore, you could explore your career interest before deciding which classes you want to take in college.
Be smart to choose the school for your future career
Last, I want to explain that chemical engineering at different schools might focus on another field. For example, the chemical engineering department at Cornell Univerisity provides more courses in the semiconductor field and biological field than petroleum field. Chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin focuses on classes related to the traditional oil industry. In other words, the training in chemical engineering from different schools might affect your future career due to the skills you learn.
I believe that chemical engineering would be a great starting point to explore your future career if you are interested in the engineering field because we could apply the fundamental knowledge from chemical engineering to different areas. If you have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, you could choose another major in graduate school for additional training. Hope you will get a better understanding of chemical engineering from this blog, and feel free to leave a comment to let me know if you have any questions about chemical engineering.
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