on 02 September, 2014
Misconceptions about Chemical Engineers Cleared!
It is ironic how the word ‘Chemical’ in chemical engineering brings about the confusions that fence this profession. It is true that a chemical engineer does work with chemicals and should have a first hand knowledge on chemicals but then how does it make him any different from a chemist? And if it were only chemicals, you wouldn’t call it ‘engineering’ right? Because engineering contains the word ‘engine’ .So yes, a Chemical engineer does work with engines (Big time!).
And No, a Chemical engineer is definitely not that lab freak with the peculiar Einstein hairstyle nor does he do chemical witchcraft. But yes, put in metamorphic language he is surely a wizard who casts the spell on these magic portions.
A Chemical engineer(lets abbreviate to CE) mostly has to do the math, the mass and energy balance ,thermodynamic calculations and study Physics ,Fluid Statics and Dynamics ,Surface Science ,Heat engines, Distillation columns and Reaction Engineering .Plus a bit of computer engineering in the final year. That doesn’t sound very magical though. However his major responsibility is to deal, deliver and distribute the chemicals his chemist friends make on a factory scale. He should also be very specific about the dimensions of the pumps and pipes that make up the mazes in industry maps! Finally, the last step is development into commercially and domestically usable finished products.
The work place of a CE is not restricted to a plant alone. A CE can work in a lab as a researcher, in a boardroom or an office. Career options are in plethora! Ranging from food and beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, petrol and petroleum industry, plastic and synthetic fibre industry to energy power plants, a CE is the mother of necessity in every industry!
To conclude, he creates everything from face cream to fuel.
At the moment, Chemical engineering isn’t a very hot and sought out branch as compared to its counterparts. One reason is the placement records are not very inviting. However, that’s another misconception because placements depend on how well one’s practical knowledge is and not how the companies are less or the opportunities are numbered. If there is a will, one might carve the way to NASA too (CEs are in a great demand in space research industry for fuel development).The Last misconception is again the male to female ratio. Women don’t chicken out in brainy stuff. So to ease the male ego, the ratio is 1:4.
Statutory warning: Next time you meet a Chemical engineer, well now with all that doubt away from your mind, avoid addressing him with “Chemist and Chemistry” related names. He might not take it that well.
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