Chemical Engineer Job Description
A chemical engineer is an engineer who designs, constructs and/or operates plants that perform chemical reactions to solve practical problems or to manufacture useful products. The job of a chemical engineer is differs from that of a chemist mainly because a chemical engineer deals with large scale chemical productions while a chemist deal with chemical processing in sizes ranging from vial to beaker size productions.
A chemical engineer should be creative, analytical, practical, patient, persistent and detail-oriented, and have the ability to think quantitatively and integratively. They should also be very safety-conscious and able to maintain good concentration while working to prevent laboratory accidents and environmental damage due to chemical spillage.
Famous chemical engineers include Rakesh Agrawal (air separation), Leonid Andrussow (developed the process to make hydrogen cyanide from ammonia and methane), Jay Bailey (pioneer in metabolic engineering), Henry Bessemer (Bessemer process for manufacturing steel), and George Davis ( pioneer in chemical engineering).
Pursue a career in chemical engineering if you have aptitude for mathematics and science, and interest in the industrial application of chemistry and chemical processes.
What does a Chemical Engineer do?
Chemical engineers may do some or all of the following:
- work with technicians, scientists and other engineers
- carry out chemical experiments
- prepare chemical solutions for use in processing materials
- construct, install and operate plants for chemical processes
- test new chemical-plant processes, products and equipment
- inspect and repair chemical processing equipment
- plan projects, prepare and manage the budget
- develop solutions for pollution control and remediation
- write technical reports, manuals and proposals
Where does a Chemical Engineer work?
Places of work for chemical engineers include:
- Biotechnology companies
- Oil refining companies
- Food processing companies
- Pharmaceuticals companies
- Semiconductor manufacturing companies
- Environmental technology companies
- Industrial chemical companies
- pulp and paper companies
- Agricultural companies
- Government organizations
Chemical engineers usually work normal office hours, but may sometimes work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines. They work in offices, classrooms, laboratories, workshops and factories.
Chemical engineers are required to wear protective equipment and goggles while performing experiments to prevent burns, injuries and eye damage. They may travel to visit chemical plants or worksites, or to attend conferences or meetings.
What is Required to Become a Chemical Engineer ?
To become a chemical engineer, you need have a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a similar discipline.
Secondary school students interested in studying chemical engineering should take preparatory subjects such as chemistry, physics, biology, computer, and mathematics, including algebra, trigonometry, and calculus.
Just to give you an idea, some of the classes that you’ll be taking in college may include:
- Differential equations
- Applied linear algebra
- Organic chemistry
- Material and particle science
- Chemical process
- Physical chemistry
- Process control
- Transport processes
- Equilibrium stage operation
- Fluid mechanics
- Heat transfer
- Mass transfer
A chemical engineer may specialize in any of the following fields:
- Biochemical engineering
- Pollution control engineering
- Transport process
- Process design engineering
- Chemical equipment engineering
- Polymer engineering
Knowledge, Skills and Attributes
Chemical engineers need to have:
- scientific aptitude
- creativity and innovation
- diligence and persistence
- manual dexterity
- mechanical aptitude
- physical and mental stamina
- good memory
- good eyesight
- good attention to detail
- good hand-eye coordination
- good listening and communication skills
- analytical and problem solving skills
- good judgment and decision making skills
- time management and organizational skills
- leadership skills
- math, computer and programming skills
- technical drawing skills
- the ability to work well independently and in a team
- the ability to design and conduct experiments
- the ability to work well under pressure
- the ability to learn new skills and stay up-to-date with new developments in the field
- the ability to identify real world problems that can be solved by engineering principles and techniques
- the ability to apply the knowledge of science, mathematics and engineering to solve real word problems
- knowledge of chemistry
- knowledge of chemical manufacturing processes and techniques
- knowledge of chemical manufacturing equipment
- knowledge of general safety and safety procedures in chemical engineering
- knowledge of government laws concerning chemicals regulations
- knowledge of environmental protection
- knowledge of mass and heat transfer
- knowledge of chemical measurement and control systems
Should I be a Chemical Engineer ?
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