CHME - Prospective Students
What is Chemical Engineering?
Chemical engineers have been improving our well-being for more than a century. From the development of smaller, faster computer chips to innovations in recycling, treating disease, cleaning water, and generating energy, the processes and products that chemical engineers have helped create touch every aspect of our lives. Browse the pages below to learn about the many significant advancements that chemical engineers have made to our world. You'll learn about chemical engineering’s great achievements, bold innovators, and new frontiers in the fields of energy, the environment, biomedicine, electronics, food production, and materials.
Chemical Engineering Touches Everything
It would take too long to list all the products that are impacted by chemical engineers, but knowing what industries employ them may help you comprehend the scope of their work. Chemical engineers work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, microelectronics, electronic and advanced materials, polymers, business services, biotechnology, and environmental health and safety industries, among others.
Math and Science Are Important
Within these industries, chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of mathematics and science—particularly chemistry— to overcome technical problems safely and economically. And, of course, they draw upon and apply their engineering knowledge to solve any technical challenges they encounter. Don't make the mistake of thinking that chemical engineers only “make things,” though. Their expertise is also applied in the areas of law, education, publishing, finance, and medicine, as well as in many other fields that require technical training.
What Are Some Specific Job Functions of Chemical Engineers?
- Specifically, chemical engineers improve food processing techniques, and methods of producing fertilizers, to increase the quantity and quality of available food.
- They also construct the synthetic fibers that make our clothes more comfortable and water resistant; they develop methods to mass-produce drugs, making them more affordable; and they create safer, more efficient methods of refining petroleum products, making energy and chemical sources more productive and cost effective.
- Chemical engineers also develop solutions to environmental problems, such as pollution control and remediation.
- And yes, they process chemicals, which are used to make or improve just about everything you see around you.
Chemical engineers face many of the same challenges that other professionals face, and they meet these challenges by applying their technical knowledge, communication and teamwork skills; the most up-to-date practices available; and hard work. Benefits include financial reward, recognition within industry and society, and the gratification that comes from working with the processes of nature to meet the needs of society.
Chemical engineers use their strong background in mathematics and life sciences, particularly physics, chemistry, biochemistry and biology, to overcome and solve technical problems. Your knowledge and expertise in engineering will serve in resolving technical challenges and finding solutions. Traditionally associated with fuels and energy systems, modern chemical engineers also make significant contributions to the fields of biomedicine, biotechnology and microelectronics.
A degree in chemical engineering can lead to a diverse career in fields such as law, finance, consulting, education and medicine.