How to start a career in Chemical Engineering
While you can earn a college degree in “General Engineering,” the vast majority (about 98%) of all engineering bachelor’s degrees are awarded in a specific field (discipline) of engineering. Thus, it is important to have a specific engineering discipline(s) in mind when evaluating schools (and many schools will ask (or require) that you specify a particular discipline when you apply for admissions, although there is usually some flexibility granted students to transfer from one discipline to another, typically after the first year of studies).
Based on the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded annually, the engineering majors offered at colleges and universities can be roughly divided into one of four size-based categories:
- The “Big Four” Disciplines: Civil, Computer, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering, which together collectively account for approximately two-thirds (67%) of all engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded annually.
- The “Medium Four” Disciplines: Aerospace, Biomedical, Chemical, and Industrial/Manufacturing Engineering, which collectively account for approximately 20% of all engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded annually.
- The “Smaller Ten” Disciplines: Agricultural, Architectural, Engineering Management, Engineering Physics/Engineering Science, Environmental, General Engineering Studies, Materials, Mining, Nuclear, and Petroleum Engineering, which collectively account for less than 10% of all engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded annually.
- The Specialty Disciplines: A variety of specialty disciplines offered (such as Ocean Engineering) that collectively account for less than 5% of all engineering bachelor’s degrees awarded annually.
This article talks about chemical engineering, one of the big four disciplines.
Chemical Engineering is one of the highest paying engineering branch if pursued sincerely. In recent years there has been a boom in this field. But there are many misconceptions also associated with this branch. Many believe that working conditions of chemical engineers are hazardous and they are in frequent contact with chemicals. But this is a mere fluke. Chemical engineers work in safe environment and most of the times there contact with chemical is minimum.
Overall Focus: Chemical-based manufacturing - applying chemistry for commercial-quantity production of a wide variety of products, including:
- Fuels (gasoline, natural gas) Petro-Chemicals (chemicals obtained from petroleum or natural gas)
- Agricultural Chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides) Industrial Chemicals (acids, alkalis, organics, salts)
- Plastics, Polymers and Fibers Paper and Paper Products
- Pharmaceuticals and Drugs Consumer Products (paints, soaps, household cleaners, etc.)
- Food Additives/Products Advanced Materials (ceramics, electronic materials, composites, etc.)
Courses for Chemical Engineering:
• Diploma Course
Eligibility Criteria: Class 10
Duration: 3 years
• BTech/BE Course
Eligibility Criteria: 10+2 with PCM (Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics)
Duration: 4 years
• ME/MTech Course
Eligibility Criteria: BTech/BE Course
Duration: 2 years
The students can also take up higher studies in their interested areas of specialization.
Primary Areas of Specialization:
1. Biotechnology (including for agricultural, food, medical, and industrial applications)
2. Environmental Engineering
3. Petroleum and Natural Gas (refine crude oil and natural gas)
4. Polymers (focusing on the production of polymeric materials - plastics, synthetic rubbers and fibers, films and composite materials; a specialty area of Materials Engineering – see separate entry)
5. Process Control Systems (for managing and optimizing the operation of large-scale, chemical-based industrial operations).
- Petroleum and Gas
- Nuclear and power generation
- Fibres and Polymers
- Plastic and Metals
Associated Professional Society: American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) (www.aiche.org)