Chemical Engineering

General Overview

Chemical engineering combines chemistry with standard engineering fundamental subjects such as physics and applied mathematics. It looks at the production, transformation and appropriate use of materials, chemicals and energy products. Examples of industries chemical engineers can work in include energy, food and drink, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, plastics and water treatment.

 

Changing the chemical, biochemical and physical states of substances is the fundamental job of chemical engineers. They are particularly involved in the design maintenance and management of many engineering plants such as nuclear plants, power plants, raw material processing plants along with many others. This can include operational guidelines, health and safety management, process analysis and management and plant control.

 

Chemical engineering can be considered a mix between mechanical engineering and chemistry. It originates from the industrial revolution where transportation products were invented as well as operational management of plants and chemical reactors. In terms of transport, chemical engineers were utilised to analyse the chemicals used to transform into mechanical energy. In the industrial sector, they were utilised to create control systems and process design.

A view of a chemical processing plant. This type of plant will have strict health and safety regulations as well as efficient material processes Source: www.eng.ed.ac.uk

In modern times, chemical engineers have been used to develop new medicines, analyse environmental impacts of various technologies such as power generation and transport as well as looking at cleaner methods of the utilisation of polymers. Chemical engineering also has a very bright future with the incorporation of biomedical engineering. Future chemical engineers could be involved in projects looking at genetics, human use of artificial intelligence, cleaner and more recyclable materials.

Required Knowledge

Skills and Expertise

  • General knowledge of engineering applications and fundamental sciences such as physics and applied mathematics.

  • Project management skills.

  • Strong knowledge of chemistry and biology.

  • Ability to apply cross functional subjects to combine theories and create engineered products in a safe manner.

  • Understanding safe methods of handling chemically unstable materials.

 

Software Understanding

  • CAD packages (E.g. CATIA, Solidworks, Autocad, Inventor, PTC Creo)

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)

  • Understanding of non-destructive testing software and its output results.

  • Understanding of chemical process simulators (E.g. DynoChem, CHEMCAD, IDEAS, SimCREATE, MATLAB)

Example Jobs
  • Manufacturing Engineer

  • Health and Safety Management

  • Process Control Engineer

  • Pharmaceutical Engineer

  • Project Manager

  • Control and Instrument Engineer

  • Energy Management Technician

  • Energy Development Engineer

  • Research and Development Engineer

Institutions

UK: Institute of Chemical Engineering (IChemE)

USA: American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)

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