Careers in Chemical Engineering

There is no universal definition for chemical engineering. The problems which chemical engineers face are too diverse to fall into one category. Chemical engineers solve problems ranging from mathematical analysis to plumbing. The one skill that separates chemical engineers from all other engineers is our knowledge of kinetics (chemical reaction engineering).

Another question you are probably asking is what is the difference between a chemist and a chemical engineer. The difference is the chemical engineer will design the process using the reaction the chemist found and make the product in a profitable way. For example, a chemist discovers that if he mixes two reactants at a high temperature, he will obtain a more valuable product. The company wants to invent a process to make this product using this reaction. From here on is the engineering part of the problem. These following considerations must be used:

  • In what should the reaction be carried out? (tank, long pipe, etc.)
  • What materials should be used to make the reactor? Should we heat the reagents before or after entering the reactor?
  • Where should we obtain the reactants? Make our own or buy them?
  • Can we control the process and make good quality products?
  • Is the process safe and legal?
  • Are there any wastes, and if so how should we dispose of it?

These are just a few considerations for the design of this process. There are many more. This is also just one example of what chemical engineers do. There are many more. We get called upon to solve mechanical, electrical, and environmental problems, too. Of course, the chemical engineer in industry plays an important role in solving multidisciplinary problems.

Additional examples of chemical engineering careers include, but are not limited to:

  • Production of chemicals from traditional sources such as petroleum or more innovative ones such as natural and renewable resources
  • Manufacturing of materials for use within the human body or advanced electronics
  • Discovery of new energy sources
  • Cleaning of polluted air, land areas, and waters.

Our recent graduates have taken up industrial careers at:

  • Albarmarle
  • Amoco/BP
  • Baxter
  • Chevron/Texaco
  • Dow Chemical
  • DuPoint- DeLisle
  • Eastman Chemical
  • Englehard
  • EnSafe
  • Ergon Refining
  • ExxonMobil
  • Frito-Lay
  • GE Plastics
  • Georgia Pacific
  • Honeywell
  • International Paper
  • Kerr-McGee
  • Kimberly Clark
  • Shell
  • Smurfit Stone
  • Southern Company

Furthermore, many of our graduates have gone on to graduate school for advanced degrees within our program or at other nationally recognized programs.