What is Chemical Engineering?

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Chemical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with chemical production and product manufacturing using chemical processes. This includes developing machinery, systems, and processes for refining raw materials as well as mixing, compounding, and processing chemicals to create valuable products.

In the late 1800s, an English engineer named George E. Davis is credited with establishing the field of chemical engineering. In his two-volume “Handbook of Chemical Engineering” (Davis Bros., 1901; revised 1904), he published the first truly comprehensive overview of the practice, based on a series of 12 lectures he gave at the Manchester School of Technology (now part of the University of Manchester). Surprisingly, he never taught another course in his life, preferring to focus on consulting. His handbook, on the other hand, would become the foundational text for chemical engineering studies for decades to come.

What exactly do chemical engineers do?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemical engineers use the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and math to solve problems involving the production or use of chemicals, fuel, drugs, food, and a variety of other products.

According to the BLS, chemical engineers work in a variety of fields. For example, they could work at a petroleum refinery, where crude oil is converted into gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel, lubricating oil, solvents, and petrochemicals; a fertilizer plant, where ammonium nitrate is produced; or a personal-care product manufacturer, where dozens of ingredients are combined to create shampoo or skin lotion.

Educational requirements

Chemical engineering solves technological problems by combining a chemistry background with engineering and economic concepts. Chemical engineering requires a thorough understanding of chemistry, mechanical engineering, and fluid dynamics. Furthermore, manufacturing facilities can be quite large, necessitating structural considerations. As a result, chemical engineers frequently require structural engineering knowledge.

According to the BLS, chemical engineers are increasingly relying on computer-aided design (CAD) systems to create chemical plants and equipment. Design changes can be made quickly and easily with CAD systems.

Where do chemical engineers work?

Chemical engineering jobs are divided into two categories: industrial applications and product development. These engineers may spend time at industrial plants, refineries, and other locations monitoring or directing operations or resolving on-site problems.

Chemical engineers are employed in a variety of industries, including petroleum refining, plastics, paint, batteries, agricultural chemicals (fertilizers, pest control, and weed control), explosives, textiles, food processing, consumer products (cleaning, personal care, lawn care), and pharmaceuticals, as well as chemical manufacturers who supply products to numerous other industries.

Many chemical engineers are members of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), a professional organization founded in 1908 with over 45,000 members from more than 100 countries.

Also read 6 Reasons to Choose Chemical Engineering

Salary of a Chemical Engineer

Most chemical engineer jobs require bachelor’s degree and many employers also require state professional engineer certification (PE). A master’s degree is frequently required for advancement to management, and continuing education and training are required to keep up with advances in technology, test equipment, computer hardware and software, and government regulations.

According to Salary.com, the salary range for a newly graduated chemical engineer with a bachelor’s degree is $53,493 to $82,127 as of August 2022. A mid-level engineer with a master’s degree and five to ten years of experience can earn between $72,520 and $113,348. A senior engineer with a master’s degree or doctorate and more than 15 years of experience can earn between $97,687 and $144,016. Many experienced engineers with advanced degrees are promoted to positions of management, where they can earn even more money.

What does chemical engineering look like?

Chemical engineer employment was expected to grow 4 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. “Demand for chemical engineers’ services is largely determined by demand for the products of various manufacturing industries”. There should still be plenty of opportunities for highly qualified applicants, particularly those who have kept up with the latest technological developments.

Additional materials

TopUniversities.com can help you find top-rated chemical engineering programs.
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers has more information on chemical engineering.
MyMajors.com has a comprehensive list of required skills and abilities for chemical engineers.
The Chemical Heritage Foundation has more information on George E. Davis.

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